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 Hackney finally found what he was looking for last week -- a call back from an Internet job application. He now has a meeting this week with the owner of a local painting company about an estimator position.
Paul's wife, Susan, passed a test to become a pharmaceutical sales representative. She hopes a phone interview is in her future.
Paul and Susan, whose story was initially featured in the Lake Wylie Pilot on Feb. 24, were both laid off from their jobs in the construction industry last year. The Tega Cay couple has struggled to find work ever since.
When Paul, 39, received a phone call from an unfamiliar number after applying for a job on Craigslist, Paul said, "I was somewhat surprised. It's probably the most response I've had."
While a painting estimator position wouldn't be consistent, Paul says it could provide supplemental income for his family, which includes a 6-month-old daughter and 14-year-old son. Paul feels confident he has the skills and experience for the position.
Susan, meantime, says a friend read a past Pilot story and had a contact in the pharmaceutical industry who knew of a sales position at her company. She hopes having a connection will better her chances.
"I am a true sales person. That's where I need to be," says Susan, 36, who previously held a sales position with a Fort Mill construction distribution company. "You hope, you pray it works. You have to be optimistic about it."
On Saturday, Susan says she was considering taking a continuing education course in the medical field to help her stand out in the pharmaceutical industry.
As for other job prospects, Susan says her choices are getting slimmer by the week, with the same few positions appearing on multiple job boards.
While Amy Burton continues her job search, the Lake Wylie resident is closely monitoring the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 and the benefits it could have for her family's budget.
Amy, whose story initially appeared in the Pilot three weeks ago, is waiting to see if she qualified for the COBRA subsidy, which was signed by President Obama in February.
If the government pays 65 percent, Amy says her health insurance payment would drop from $866 to $303 a month for up to nine months. She would also get an extra $25 a week in unemployment benefits.
"For our family, this adds up to not only an additional $100 a month in unemployment income, it also means a reduction of $563 a month in healthcare expenses," the 45-year-old said. "That's like getting a $663 a month raise.
"The current COBRA cost eats up almost half of my monthly unemployment checks."
Amy, who has two teenage sons, lost her job in November in the research and development department at the Rowley Co., a Gastonia wholesaler and distributor of home decorating supplies. Her husband, John, works for a construction company as a project superintendent.
Last week, Amy says she continued to send out resumes and look for work.
"Regardless of what any of us are going through, we know we have friends who love us," says Amy, a member of New River Community Church in Lake Wylie. "Without their prayers, support and encouragement, life would be so much harder. Our marriage and our family is stronger than ever due to the support of our church family."