James Knight, 35, a roofer if he could find the work, hasn't given up job-hunting yet, "but I'm about to give up on life; it's so depressing. I've just been waking up in the middle of the night crying, it's nerve-wracking. Sometimes I don't have the strength to go out and look for work."
He's on the verge of joining the nation's unemployed who aren't counted in the statistics because they are too discouraged to look for work.
Since he was laid off in November 1981, he has been "really looking everywhere," including applying for jobs as a delivery man in food stores and flower shops. "But everywhere you go they're laying off. It's just the same story all the time: 'I'll call you back in few days.' And they never call."
"I'm glad I don't have any kids," says the unmarried Knight, who lives in Northwest Washington and often depends on his sister for food. "I didn't have any idea I'd be broke at 35. I thought I'd have my own home and business by 35. You think about taking your life, you're so nervous. You can't even think straight. It's just so upsetting. I've been strong but I'm getting weaker by the day.
"I go out and I see people sleeping on those vents. I cry. I don't want to come to that. I guess some of these people fell into a rut like I did and gave up."