The Lake Wylie Pilot recently introduced readers to Paul and Susan Hackney of Tega Cay and Amy Burton of Lake Wylie, all unemployed and looking for work. The Pilot will continue to update their progress and struggles every week until they find employment.
Paul and Susan Hackney had a handful of reasons to celebrate last week, starting with their tax return.
Then, after their story appeared Feb. 24 in the Lake Wylie Pilot, a few readers contacted the paper wanting to help. Paul and Susan, who both lost their jobs in the construction industry, were busy investigating those opportunities on Friday.
"We appreciate the help and compassion to help others in this time," Paul, 39, said.
A 35 percent drop in income last year and the birth of Lily helped the Tega Cay couple get their biggest tax return since marrying almost four years ago, Paul said.
After shopping around last week, the Hackney's also think they can save $200 a month on the $1,000 in health insurance they're now paying.
Those financials breaks -- along with savings and unemployment money -- should provide financial stability for five to six months, Paul said, instead of the three-to-four month cushion they had a week ago.
"It's a little bit more positive," said Paul, who was a project manager for a Charlotte construction company. "I am trying to prepare for the long road. There's not a whole lot out there."
In the past week, Paul sent between eight and 10 resumes for mostly construction manager positions, but he also is looking at a project manager position with a granite counter top company.
Susan, 36, has been applying for sales positions outside the construction industry. Her sister-in-law, Carlyn, is a headhunter and has provided the Hackneys with insight and guidance they hope will better their chances in the job search.
Both are closely monitoring the stimulus plan and the impact it has on the local job market.
A celebration: Paul's son, Austin, had his 14th birthday. The family went to dinner and had a gathering with nearby family on a recent Sunday.
With Austin practicing for the upcoming baseball season at Gold Hill Middle School, it's given the family something to look forward to -- along with warmer weather.
"I think with warm weather, everyone is more positive," Susan said.
After searching for nearly four months, Amy Burton, whose story was featured Feb. 17 in the Lake Wylie Pilot, knows finding employment in this economy will require more than traditional job search methods.
Everywhere the Lake Wylie mother of two goes, her resume is within arm's reach. Her husband, John, carries her resume with him, too.
"Every person I come into contact with could potentially lead to a job," said Amy, who was laid off in November from Rowley Co. in Gastonia. "You never know who your friends might know."
In the last week, Amy's computer was her biggest enemy. One day, she lost Internet connection a dozen times, causing "a definite hindrance" to her online job search.
Amy, 45, has struggled to find employment to complement her 17 years of experience in the interior decorating industry. She "hasn't ruled anything out," including working in retail -- even if it means a drastic pay cut from her previous position.
"There are job opportunities right here in Lake Wylie. Employees will be needed for new stores opening soon," Amy said. "If they are hiring, I am applying."
When Amy isn't job searching, she volunteers and takes classes at New River Community Church in Lake Wylie.
"It's a wonderful way to meet new people," Amy said. "I continue to be optimistic each day. I still haven't found a job, but our faith is strong and our family is healthy."