Faces of the unemployed: How they cope

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When he was laid off in May 2008 after having worked at the same company for 10 years, Stephen Woodward didn't expect it -- as many workers don't.

While the layoff was unexpected, it was expected in a way, too. He and some fellow employees at Robert Half in Pleasanton, Calif., had been talking about "the end" being near and that layoffs would surely come.

Since then Woodward, 55, has been looking for work and is one of 9.5 million unemployed Americans, and among the 11% of unemployed Californians. While he isn't alone, his story does offer some insight into how the unemployed are dealing with the recession.

Here's a video interview I did with him recently about his job search:

Woodward, who lives in Livermore, Calif., with his wife, who still works as an elementary school teacher, wrote training materials for companies and managed skill tests for employees. He has a master's degree in instructional design and would like to return to that profession.

He's also worked as a photographer and has some of his photos, along with his resume, up on his Web site, sjwoodwardproductions.com.

Unemployment benefits are paying for his mortgage, so he hasn't yet had to tap into savings to pay bills. His extension for federal unemployment benefits recently started.

Without children, Woodward has some financial wiggle room, but has found that he and his wife have cut back on discretionary spending.

"You don't go to Longs to buy stuff. You go to Longs when you need to buy stuff," he said of ending aimless shopping trips to browse.

For five months last year he found a contract job that led to enough money to live off of for awhile. But now he's back at the job hunt, networking all he can and trying to get interviews from his networking work.

Aaron Crowe is an unemployed journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Read about his job search at www.AaronCrowe.net
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