When Unemployment Strikes Twice

avril and ed, unemployed CBS

This is the first in a month-long series of reports called "Making Ends Meet" about how families are coping with the tough economy, unemployment and smaller retirement accounts.


The grass is always greener, the saying goes, but not at the Sobolik home. Ed and Avril Sobolik are both out of work, and life here on Sugar Road is anything but sweet, reports CBS News Correspondent Anthony Mason.

"Never in a million years," Ed Sobolik says, did he ever think they'd be in this position together.

He was laid off from his job as a mold maker for a lock company in 2001. He'll be 65 soon. The truth is there isn't much call for workers with his skills anymore.

Avril Sobolik was a corporate librarian.

When the budget to her department was cut, "There went my job," she says.

She's been unemployed for nearly two years.

Just opening the mail these days can be unnerving. The Soboliks have deferred payment on their kids' college loans. And many of the bills, which don't stop coming, are not getting paid.

"Some days I open them, some days, I don't," says Avril Sobolik. "Cause if you can't pay them, why bother to open them."

Statistics aren't kept on out of work couples, but the Soboliks are hardly alone. Nearly 60 percent of American families now depend on two paychecks.

And when both spouses are on the unemployment line, it has twice the impact.

"Not to mention the kind of rejection you feel when you get laid off and have nobody else to kind of boost your self esteem, saying, 'You're doing okay,'" says Kim Cameron, a professor at the University of Michigan Business School. "Both spouses are feeling not OK."

Ed Sobolik agrees that there is no benefit to being unemployed together.

"There's a thing called just too much togetherness," he says.

Ed Sobolik is open to a career change, and he's even applied for work as a groundskeeper at the local country club. He was rejected.

So, the Soboliks continue to live on savings.

He's already gone through 80 percent of his individual retirement account, while his wife has started to sell some of her stock.

"And when that all goes, I don't know, we could be out there with a cup," she says.

The lesson she's learned painfully is to plan better.

"So that if this kind of situation happens we're less desperate," says Avril Sobolik.

While not quite desperate yet, they are getting close, she says.

The Soboliks are a stark reminder that for more and more American families, a weak economy can mean double jeopardy.
  • Jaime Holguin

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