Despair spreads amid mounting job losses

Thu Jan 29, 2009 3:41am EST
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By Carey Gillam

OVERLAND PARK, Kansas (Reuters) - It has been nearly a year since Todd Wilson last collected a paycheck. The Kansas computer salesman wasn't too worried at first, for he had a solid work history, decent savings, and a wife with a job.

But now, with unemployment on the rise all around him, such as the 8,000 new cuts announced this week by Overland Park, Kansas, based Sprint Nextel, competition for ever fewer jobs is growing -- and desperation is setting in.

"Anybody who is looking for a job now is feeling an economic tsunami," said 48-year-old Wilson, who says he has exhausted his family's savings and now spends most days searching for jobs at an area employment-assistance center. "It feels like all of a sudden, it has just fallen apart."

Far from Washington D.C., in communities across the United States, the talk of federal economic stimulus plans and bank bailouts offers only faint hope for help. Many workers say the ever-rising unemployment spells a long road of hardship ahead.

This week alone, U.S. companies including Sprint, Home Depot, Caterpillar, Texas Instruments and others announced they would cut more than 60,000 jobs.

On Tuesday, another 10,000 job cuts were announced. So far this month, more than 210,000 jobs are known to have been axed. And in a report due Thursday, claims for U.S. unemployment benefits by the newly jobless are expected soar above 500,000.

All that comes on top of 524,000 jobs lost in December and a spike in unemployment in all U.S. states that left the national unemployment rate at 7.2 percent, up from 6.8 percent in November, according to the Labor Department.

In all, more than 11 million U.S. workers are unemployed, a 48 percent jump from a year ago.   Continued...

<p>Aniba Casavilca fills out a registration form as he begins his search for a job at the Verdugo Jobs Center, a partnership with the California Employment Development Department, in Glendale, California, in this November 7, 2008 file photo. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/Files</p>