Unemployed Seek Gov't Programs for Assistance

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Those who can't find work are becoming desperate, seeking help anywhere they can find it. Now more and more people are turning to government programs for assistance.

Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke said Wednesday that high unemployment is one of the toughest challenges the economy faces.

"More than 40 percent of the unemployed have been out of work for six months or longer," he said, "nearly double the share a year ago."

The Faces of Unemployment

After losing her job due to illness Pam Milledge become one of those statistics.

"I'm here today to try to get assistance with my medications that I need to take, and it's just hard," Milledge said.

Also unemployed, Rosemarie Oliva says she cannot provide clothes for her children.

"Yesterday I had to go to the clothes closet to get some clothes for me and the kids," Oliva said. "It's just so hard not having a job."

Terrence Bresnihan says waiting to receive unemployment benefits after losing his job is a long and frustrating process.

"It was supposed to be two weeks, it's gone all the way up to eight or nine weeks," Bresnihan said. "So how can people live without income nine weeks?"

Finally, there is Ernest Gibbs who has been out of work for more than a year. His unemployment benefits have run out.

"I've been out of work since November '07," Gibbs said.

Gibbs says his quest to find employment has been "very difficult."

"My job consists of driving," he said. "I have a class A CDL with a perfect driving record and it's still hard for me to find a job."

No work means no income and no way to pay the bills or make ends meet.

The situation has forced many to seek government aid.

"We see the unemployed come in that's no longer receiving their unemployment insurance benefits or either their last check will be received within that month and they don't know what to do," said LaVerne Thomas, of the Norfolk Department of Human Services in Virginia. "So they come in as a last resort and they basically apply for food stamps."

Thomas has been a case worker for the Norfolk Department of Human Services for nearly 30 years. She says the number of people applying for aid in recent months is the most she has ever seen.

"There's certain times of the year that you see an influx of people but all of a sudden we're seeing it everyday now," she said. "We interview anywhere between 80 and 90 people a day and that's a lot of people."

No End in Sight

"At this point I'm unemployed," said Teyonnda DeJesus. "My husband does work. The hours are very slim to none, so that's how everything started to build up on us."

And there appears to be no end in sight.

Even though the economy added 162,000 jobs in March, the largest gain in three years, for many, finding work is still tough.

"I put in 25, 30 applications a day online," DeJesus said. "It's bad for everybody. Everybody's struggling right now."

Still, while more Americas are increasingly forced to turn to the government for help, some still say their ultimate trust is in God.

"I know that God is constantly taking care of me so I have no doubt about that," Gibbs said.

*Originally broadcast on April 9, 2010. 

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CBN News
Charlene  Aaron

Charlene Aaron

CBN News Reporter

Charlene Aaron serves as a general assignment reporter and helps anchor for the CBN News Channel.  Follow her on Twitter @CharNews and "like" her at Facebook.com/CharleneIsraelCBNNews.