Same Crisis, Different Voices: Typical Wall Street Workers Lose Jobs, Not Hope

Emory Edwards is doing more volunteer work at his church. Maribel Ruiz is spending more time with her daughter. Win Hornig and his girlfriend have started a blog.

For each, things were different a few months ago, when they all had jobs.

The three are among the growing number of Americans who are stuck trying to make the best out of a bad situation: unemployment. More than 760,000 people have lost their jobs so far this year, and 47 states this week reported that their unemployment rates were higher over last year.

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It's only supposed to get worse. Analysts at the financial firm Goldman Sachs predict that the national unemployment rate will rise to 8 percent from 6.1 percent by the end of next year. Goldman Sachs itself is planning to slash more than 3,200 jobs, according to published reports. Meanwhile, the comptroller's office for New York City, the heart of the country's financial sector, has projected that the city will lose 135,000 jobs in the next two years.

Edwards, Ruiz and Hornig all worked in New York City. Like the top executives of some of the country's financial firms, they can trace their misfortune directly to the country's financial meltdown. Unlike top execs, however, they can't rely on multi-million-dollar golden parachutes to carry them through tough times. talked to Edwards, Ruiz and Hornig to learn more about how they're coping, their plans for the future and their thoughts about the crisis that cost them their jobs.

The Charity Worker

As the economy headed south, Emory Edwards helped his church plan seminars for those who had recently lost their jobs. He didn't think he'd be one of them.

Edwards, 46, was the transportation director of City Harvest, a nonprofit organization that delivers excess food from restaurants and other businesses to food programs for the New York City's poor.

The organization relies heavily on individual and company donations from Wall Street. As the financial crisis progressed, the donations dried up and, early this month, Edwards found himself "restructured" out of his job.

At first, the experience devastated him. The week after he was laid off, Edwards said, he was so upset he didn't want to leave the house. He was also frustrated with the crisis that ultimately led to his job loss.

"I think there are so many people who took advantage of so many other people," he said. "Most of the financial markets were playing with money that didn't belong to them, investments by working people, people saving for retirement."

But Edwards hasn't had much time to stew. After that first tough week, he jumped into a job search. By his third week of unemployment he had already had an interview and attended one of the career sessions that he had helped plan at his church.

"A lot of advice I'd gotten was to take some time and pull back and I just didn't feel that I was able to do that," he said. "It's a rough market. I have financial concerns, I have other concerns that really I want to address quickly."

For now, Edwards says he can get by for a while on his wife's income -- she works in information technology at a law firm -- and on the couple's savings, some of which are tied up in mutual funds. Cashing out his mutual fund investments, Edwards said, means he'll be taking a substantial loss. But, he said, he may not have the luxury of waiting for the funds to rebound.

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