My unemployment benefits ran out

These 5 have been unemployed so long enough they exhausted their unemployment insurance - just like half a million Americans about to face the same fate. How did it happen, and how do they cope without a weekly check?

1 of 5
BACKNEXT
Mary Ortega
Unemployed since: May 2008

Benefits expired: July 2009

Filed in: Pennsylvania

Age: 42

I was working as a store manager at a women's retailer called The Pink Turtle before the whole chain shut down. We did everything we could -- we cut employees' hours, slashed pricing -- but I was laid off in May 2008 when the store closed.

I figured I'd be out of work for three to six months, max. Early in my career I'd been laid off, and it never lasted longer than that. I applied for unemployment, and I received the maximum $528 a week before taxes.

Soon I realized how tough of a road I had ahead of me. Headhunters were telling me how online job posts receive 1,000 resumes. Another big blow came when my partner, Craig, was laid off from Blue Cross/Blue Shield a few months later. He recently found a job in Lancaster, Pa., so he's commuting three hours a day.

I think about what would have happened if Craig and I hadn't moved in together. I probably could have scraped by being single -- but if you're living someplace where cost of living is higher, you're in a tough bind.

Our savings are exhausted, and it's going to be very tight for the next 45 days. If I don't find a job before that, I truly don't know what I'm going to do. I'm grateful for the checks I've received for the past year, but I just wish I could keep getting them somehow.


NEXT: Orion Lyonesse
Last updated July 17 2009: 10:06 AM ET
Email | Print | Share  |  RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)
More Galleries
Meet the kids dressed as Oscars red carpet stars By now, you've seen the red carpet looks from the 2015 Oscars. But you haven't seen 5 year-olds dressed up like A-listers at the awards, until now. Photographer Tricia Messeroux and designer Andrea Pitter recreated the pint-sized looks in just 36 hours. More
Flying economy doesn't have to be miserable For those willing to shell out just a little extra, several à la carte services offer experiences usually reserved for First Class passengers. More
Consumer Reports' Top Picks - American cars are back The magazine's favorite cars include three American models for the first time in years, thanks to a big boost from Tesla. More

Special Offer