[The following profile is part of a series on long-term unemployment in America.]At one time, it was easy for Pamela Vernocchi to get a job — she’s worked at several large financial firms on Wall Street — until she got laid-off in 2008.
Since then Vernocchi has been on 30 job interviews and submitted around 4,000 resumes.
She’s still unemployed.
“Back in the day, I had to turn down jobs,” she said. “Things have changed. So many people are applying that they can be particular now.”
To support herself, Vernocchi picks up whatever jobs she can — walking dogs, taking care of cats — because recruiters tell her she’s “overqualified.” When things were good, she worked at some well-known firms in New York’s Financial District, including Lehman Brothers, yet no one will hire her now because she is no longer young.
“I’m 54. I don’t look 54, but I don’t look 24. When they ask questions, it’s obvious how old I am. A year ago, I was on an interview, and the guy said to me, “Why have you been out for so long?”
In 1977, Vernocchi got her first job as an assistant on Wall Street after a summer internship and received a bonus check that was as much as her annual salary.
“When you’re young, you’re near-sighted and that money keeps you,” she said.
In Feb. 2008, she lost her job when her firm was taken over by Stifel Financial Corp. A few months later, Vernocchi got another job as an operations assistant at a trading company. Within four months, that company went under as well and she’s been out of a job ever since.
“Everyone says you have to reinvent yourself,” she said. And a year later, Vernocchi did reinvent herself by attending classes for medical coding and billing, but that certificate didn’t lead to a job either.
When her monthly $1,620 unemployment benefits ran out in Sept. 2011, Vernocchi had to apply for welfare — she could no longer pay her monthly $1,500 rent in Brooklyn, N.Y.
“To be at this point and need to be dependent on the government now, it’s not the American dream,” she said. “And now that our benefits are over, they don’t even count us in the statistics. Now we become the burden on the individual states and cities.”
“I’ve worked all my life. It’s disheartening, it really is. There’s no assistance for people who rent, who don’t own their apartments. The whole thing…it’s demeaning.“
The stress has physically taken a toll on Vernocchi. She admits to suffering from panic attacks because of her debt.
“A job is all I want,” she said. “We’re people that need to work. We’re not Republicans or Democrats. I want our country to get back on course.”
Vernocchi told us she’s been to several job fairs and it hasn’t worked for her yet. She is still applying online frequently and hoping to find a job in the non-profit sector.
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