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Jay Ridinger
Unemployed since: August 2008
Benefits expired: Multiple times
Full-time employment: No
Filed in: Tennessee
Age: 54

I used to be a road warrior. I worked for a contract management company, where I jumped from city to city on federal projects.

Contractor work always stops and starts, so when my last project ended in August, I wasn't too worried. I got the maximum $250 unemployment check per week, so I said, hey, all right. At the time, Tennessee's regular benefits lasted 13 weeks.

Eventually ... I don't know, you just start to realize something's different this time, you know? Then all the stuff with the banks happened. Everything was falling apart. Unemployment checks came, then they stopped. Then they came again. I don't even know how many weeks I've gotten in total. It's like a rollercoaster.

I ended up applying for food stamps, which was really difficult. I just sat in the office and cried and cried. I recently got another 13 weeks of unemployment, which is great. But it also means I can't get food stamps anymore.

I've now sent more than 1,000 job applications nationwide and even overseas. It seems with so many out of work, employers can choose from the cream of the crop. I just don't know where that leaves me.

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Last updated September 18 2009: 6:28 PM ET
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