- The Unemployed States of America takes readers deep inside the decimated American workforce.
- Penny Carpenter is a 47-year-old customer service representative from Creedmoor, North Carolina.
- Carpenter was let go after dedicating 22 years to her job and is depending solely on unemployment to narrowly cover her rent and utilities.
- She says she feels her skills are “outdated” and is taking computer programming classes to expand her pool of job prospects.
- This is her story, as told to Business Insider.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
After being at my job for almost 22 years, I felt part of my identity was gone. I’m struggling to find out what I really want to do going forward. To be sent home so unappreciated after dedicating so many years to my job, I’ve really struggled with the blow to my self-esteem.
The uncertainty of the future is overwhelming at times.
My first 12 weeks of unemployment were exhausted, but I was able to get approved for an additional 13 weeks. At first, the extra $600 a week helped me stay ahead for the first time in years. Now that the extra $600 was not in this week’s check, there’s no way I can make it on the $257 a week. That will barely cover rent and utilities.
I had to decide to pay my light bill or set aside this week’s check to be used for rent.
Both have to be paid, so I really have to make it work one way or another.
I’m worried I won’t have another job or source of income before my unemployment runs out. The job prospects are slim. Even with my years of experience, my skills seem to be “outdated,” making me question if there’s even going to be a place for me.
I look on job sites a few times a week and have emails coming in daily for possible openings, but most are too out of my field or area or way below what I was making. If I have to take any of them, I’ll absolutely have to get a second job just to make ends meet and spend almost all of my time working just to sustain myself.
I took some classes to try to learn computer programs that most businesses use now that I had very little or no experience with in my previous job. I’m trying very hard to figure out what I want to do for a source of income because going back to a 9-to-5 desk job sounds so constricted, with no possibility for extra income each week.
Despite the challenges, I felt unhappy and stuck at my last job because it paid the bills.
If there’s one silver lining to COVID-19, it’s given me a chance to find a path for the future that would allow me to do something I love, while not living paycheck to paycheck.