Far from the congressional bickering in Washington over the extension of federal long-term unemployment benefits, Nick Parisi is on edge, The 59-year-old former college administrator from Newark lost his job more than three years ago and has been out of work for much of the time since. He has spent his retirement savings, and his house is in foreclosure.
Far from the congressional bickering in Washington over the extension of federal long-term unemployment benefits, Nick Parisi is on edge.
The 59-year-old former college administrator from Newark lost his job more than three years ago and has been out of work for much of the time since. He has spent his retirement savings, and his house is in foreclosure.
Parisi’s unemployment insurance ended on Dec. 31, and with no prospect for a new job, he frets about what’s next.
“The fallout from that job loss has ramifications far beyond what I ever imagined possible,” he said.
Parisi has had a few short-term positions since — selling insurance, handling credit-card disputes and working at a restaurant — but he hasn’t landed a permanent job.
“You go to college and get your degree, you get a job and get married ... you never expect at this point in your life that the carpet gets pulled out from under you, but it happens — and it happens to a lot of people.”
In Washington, efforts to reach a bipartisan deal for continuing Federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation broke down this week, leaving 1.3 million long-jobless Americans — including 52,400 Ohioans — without the aid put in place to help them weather the slow recovery after the recession.
President Barack Obama and congressional Democrats are pushing to revive the benefits for up to a year. Republicans want a shorter extension and also want it offset by spending cuts elsewhere.
In Ohio, federal benefits kicked in after 26 weeks of traditional state benefits ended, providing an additional 37 weeks of assistance.
The emergency aid was initially approved in 2008 when the nation’s unemployment rate was 5.6 percent; it’s now 6.7 percent. In Ohio, the unemployment rate is 7.4 percent, up from 6.4 percent when the program began.
Congress has extended federal benefits 11 times, often allowing the program to lapse and then making payments retroactive. As a result, state officials have urged the jobless to keep applying for benefits while the debate continues.
When benefits ended on Dec. 28, Parisi lost $450 a week in aid. He had used that money to help pay household expenses and the roughly $330 a month that he and his wife contribute toward college tuition for one of their two sons. Parisi’s wife is a public-school teacher, but her salary, intended as secondary income, isn’t enough to cover the bills.
Having lost his job in the final years of his career and being unemployed for so long, Parisi knows that the odds of finding work are against him.
“You’re told you are overqualified. You are told, ‘You don’t fit our profile,’” he said.
“I apply for everything that I have the minimum requirements for. I’m not getting (many) interviews.”
When he lost his job, Parisi said, he thought he’d have a new one within six months and tapped his savings to make ends meet, wanting to spare his family additional disruption after they had moved to Ohio from the West Coast for his job just two years earlier.
When nothing came through, he expanded his search to jobs outside education.
“I sold insurance — it was a horrible experience. They wanted you to call all your friends and neighbors,” he said.
He then took a job as a disputes adviser for a credit-card company, hoping to work his way into corporate training, but he was let go because he wasn’t getting cases resolved fast enough.
Next, he tried restaurant management — work that he had enjoyed in a family business growing up. He started at Chipotle and was making only $8.50 an hour but said he loved it until he reinjured his neck and shoulder lifting boxes last fall, requiring surgery and physical therapy.
“You want to remain hopeful,” he said. “Faith is a big factor, and finding useful things to do. I try and get out and do stuff, helping neighbors and driving people to appointments.”
Still, juggling bills, fighting to renegotiate his mortgage and other pressures have put stress on his marriage, and he regrets being unable to help his boys with college other than the small contribution he makes toward one son’s tuition to secure financial aid. Both boys are working and relying on loans and scholarships to pay for school.
“You just stay positive and keep looking because things just have to turn around,” Parisi said.
“My grandparents made it through the Depression, and we’ll get through it.”