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NPR Series: The Road Back To Work

NPR Series: The Road Back To Work

NPR is following six people in the St. Louis area who started 2011 unemployed and searching for work. They are keeping audio diaries to document their experience.

  • The unemployment rate dropped last month, but it's not all good news. Some 844,000 people have given up on finding a job for one reason or another. Some have decided to go back to school to train for a new career, but others have simply become too dejected to keep trying.
  • Unemployment slipped to 8.1 percent last month, in part because fewer job seekers were applying for positions. "I've been feeling very dejected and depressed," says one woman who has stopped looking for work. The share of adults working or seeking jobs is down to the lowest level since the 1981 recession.
  • Just when it seemed to be gaining steam, the U.S. job market pretty much stalled in March. The unemployment rate fell, but it did so for the wrong reasons. The drop in growth rate is puzzling, one analyst says, but not cause to panic yet.
  • The number of people who have been out of work for six months or longer remains near historic highs. Still, with the unemployment rate ticking down, Congress is phasing out benefits for those long out of work.
  • A little more than a year ago, NPR launched the Road Back to Work series, following six people in St. Louis who started 2011 unemployed and were searching for work. Like so many Americans, the people we followed have had difficulty getting health coverage, even after returning to work.
  • For the long-term unemployed, getting a job isn't always the end of the story. In the next installment of NPR's Road Back to Work series, we check in with Randy Howland and Jennifer Barfield who both find themselves searching for work once again.
  • Since September, President Obama and Republicans in Congress have been fighting over jobs. With so much political focus on jobs, NPR checks back in with the people we've been following as part of our Road Back to Work series. They started the year unemployed and searching for work.
  • Like some 14 million Americans, the people in our series The Road Back to Workstarted the year unemployed and searching for a job. Nine months later, all six of the St. Louis residents are working, but their struggles continue.
  • In the months since Randy Howland, 51, was first hired as a customer service representative, his excitement of having a job has turned to defeat. As part of the Road Back to Work series, we catch up with Howland — who was out of work for more than a year — as he prepares for a job interview for what he hopes is a better position.
  • Randy Howland and Ray Meyer are working again, though the jobs aren't ideal. They're earning far less than they did before losing their jobs at the height of the recession. And while they could easily dwell on the negative, both men say they're happy.