No Longer Jobless, But Still Struggling

Karen Carron is the support group's lone success story. But she's still insecure.

When Chuck Dettman was downsized in the last recession, he launched a support group for the jobless.

That was eight years ago.

CBS News correspondent Mark Strassmann got the group together to gauge their progress.

"Can anyone here say they have recovered yet?" Strassmann asked.

The collective response: "Absolutely not. No."

New jobs were only the start of their recovery.

"The earning power's not there. The salaries aren't there," Dettman said.

"I never had a thought I would go out and do anything else," said group member David Himmelheber said.

But Himmelheber had to after being let go as a graphic artist making $54,000.

His next job paid him half that.

He now teaches high both school and college. But he still makes less than he used to.

In fact, one recent study found most people who lose a job are still earning less 15 or 20 years later.

"Every day I go to work thinking, this could be my last day," said Bill Sankey.

Sankey is anxious -- with good reason. Analysts say workers laid off once are more at risk to be laid off again.

Sankey was laid off as a computer programmer earning $55,000.

He has lost a job twice since. Only now is he back earning roughly what he once did. But has spent all his savings.

"I used to be optimistic," says Karen Carron. "But I'm no longer optimistic."

After some hard times, Carron is the group's success story.

After losing a $69,000 job as a computer programmer, she also lost her house. Today she's back programming computers - but earns more.

And yet she's still insecure.

"I don't know if it will be a full time job for me for the next ten years," she says.

They all still rely on their support group to network and stay positive.

"Never give up," Himmelheber says. "That's the key."

Especially now - for every job opening, there are six people looking to fill it.

  • Mark Strassmann
    Mark Strassmann

    Mark Strassmann has been a CBS News correspondent since January 2001 and is based in the Atlanta bureau.