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Recession Ravaged: Down and Out in Southern Nevada

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Photo - Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Photo – Spencer Platt/Getty Images

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Las Vegas CBS KXNT – Las Vegas is home to a lot of recession-ravaged people who are hearing about economic recovery, but have yet to recover from their own financial woes.

KXNT met Mik on the campus of Catholic Charities of Southern Nevada. Mike had fifteen years under his belt in the hotel business when the Las Vegas economy melted down. He worked in reservations, and he had additional responsibility preparing spread-sheet analysis for upper management.

With no warning, Mike was laid off.

“I came into work one morning,” he told KXNT. “Two hours later I was called up to the office, an hour later everything I had was in a box, and I was headed home.”

He heard later that within three months, the entire department where he worked had been eliminated.

Confident in his own abilities, Mike decided not to file for unemployment. Instead, he tapped his savings while he went on a job search. Seven months later, his money was gone, and he hadn’t found a job.

“It’s not like I don’t have skills,” he said. “But I’m now over 50, and it’s really hard to compete with 25-year-olds who have similar skills.

When his savings ran out, Mike filed for unemployment. His benefits were held up for 30 days, because he hadn’t applied immediately after losing his job. He was evicted from his apartment.

Mike’s benefits have run out now, and he says he would be on the street if he didn’t live at Catholic Charities. He’s applied for a state-issued “guard card” so he can work as a security gaurd. It’s not his chosen field, but he’s done it before, and believes there are openings in the field.

Susan is one of those skilled 25-year-olds Mike finds himself up against in the job market. But she, too, has been on a bumpy road.

Susan’s struggle started in 2011 when she was laid off from her job as a bank teller. She had one child, and she was pregnant with a second. She filed for unemployment, looked for a job, and she hoped she’d get by without asking friends and family for help.

Within a few months, Susan was hired by a start-up company that didn’t survive. The job lasted 9 months, and then she went back on unemployment. Next, she went to work in a small hotel shop, but that didn’t last either.

“The business was only making $50 a day, if that,” Susan told KXNT. “They can’t even cover their rent. Why pay for an employee as well?”

Susan found herself out of work a third time in two years.

“It’s not necessarily me,” she said. “I have the skills, I’m coming to work on time, I’m doing what I need to do.”

This time, her unemployment claim was denied, because she’d been on the job for only a month when the business laid her off. She’s been suriving with help from a combination of programs. Student loans provide some money for living expenses, including child care while she goes to school. Catholic Charities has helped with rent and other necessities.

Susan expects to graduate from UNLV in December of 2013. With a college degree, she hopes she’ll no longer be looking for a job, but launching a stable career. She’s majoring in journalism, and getting a minor in marriage and family counseling.

Mike, too, says he expects to get his life back on track, although he doesn’t have the $110 for the guard card that will enable him to apply for security jobs. Mike thinks the economy will normalize sooner or later, but he says things will never really be the same.

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