Workers Find New Ways to Make Ends Meet

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WASHINGTON -- Unemployment is rising again as the recession continues to spread.

Businesses are cutting back on jobs as the weak economy has cut into their profits.

And the pain is spreading through the economy with General Motors facing a possible bankruptcy and mortgage foreclosures breaking records.

Click play to watch Jennifer Wishon's report.  Also, click here to watch Gordon Robertson's comments about the state of the U.S. economy.

The number of Americans waking up early to stand in unemployment lines is growing.

New figures to be released today reveal the umemployment rate jumped to 8.1 percent, the highest rate since late 1983.

Survival Jobs

Many workers are being forced to take survival jobs they are overqualified for to make ends meet.

After losing his job making $70,000 a year at a Fortune 500 company last summer, Mark Cooper is now working as a janitor.

"Oh, you're a janitor," he said. "It's almost like you don't count and that is so wrong. It's a daily struggle. You're fighting discouragement, despair and on top of that depression."

A depressed workforce is doing nothing to help American carmakers gasping for air.

"They are getting no help from the consumer who is still crippled by fear," said Rebecca Lindland, an auto analyst for Global Insight. "If you're feeling like that, the last thing you're doing on a Saturday afternoon is car shopping."

General Motors and Chrysler, surviving on a $17.4 billion taxpayer loan, say they need billions more to stay alive.

"Our focus right now is taking the restructuring actions we need to accomplish this out of court," said Rick Waggoner, CEO of General Motors.

President Obama's auto industry task force is working to restructure the companies by the end of March at which time the government can recall the automakers loans if progress isn't made.

Foreclosures Spreading

Meanwhile, foreclosures are spreading across the country like wildfire. States like New York, Georgia, Louisiana and Texas are now fueling foreclosure flames as their economies crumble.

The latest numbers out this week reveal a record 5.4 million homeowners were at least one month behind in their mortgage payments or in foreclosure at the end of last year.

In order to give struggling homeowners more wiggle room, the House has passed legislation giving bankruptcy judges power to reduce mortgage payments by cutting the interest rate and principle. The option could only be used as a last resort, but it's likely to meet fierce opposition in the Senate, where some lawmakers say it punishes the successful and holds no one accountable.

While Congress works to legislate America back to prosperity, American workers are finding new ways to make ends meet.

*Originally aired March 6, 2009

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CBN News
Jennifer Wishon

Jennifer Wishon

CBN News Washington Correspondent

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