Unemployed Nation: America's Shrinking Payroll

"Maybe I'll find something. I'm hopeful," she said. "I think it's going to be a pretty slim Christmas. We're not planning any vacations or anything. We don't go out to eat anymore."

The family had to also cut out guitar lessons for the two youngest boys, ages 14 and 16.

The biggest hit though has come to her 18-year-old son Jake, a freshman at the University of Delaware.

"He called me about three weeks ago. It was one of the nicest phone calls I ever got, but one of the saddest," Steinbrecher explained. "He said: `Hey I know you have three kids mom. I want there to be enough money for all of us.'"

He then asked for copies of his high school transcript.

"I said: Jake, why do want me to send them? Don't you like it there?" Steinbrecher recalls.

His reply: "I love it mom, but I know we can't afford it now."

He is now looking at a state college closer to home or maybe a community college -- a school where he could live at home instead of paying for a dorm.

Compounding the situation, Steinbrecher kept all of her sons' college savings in stocks. Those have dropped 30 percent in value.

"It's sad because you want the best education for your kids and everybody. But everybody keeps announcing layoffs," she said. "Where are we all going to get jobs at?"

Steinbrecher wishes there was more job training available for people like her.

She has a bachelor's degree in business administration and was halfway to a graduate degree in instructional technology. Xerox was reimbursing her for the tuition and now she is responsible for the cost.

One of the hardest parts of being unemployed for Steinbrecher is forcing herself to go to networking meetings, trying to find new contacts and set herself apart from younger workers who are often cheaper.

"I hate doing networking, because I feel like I am selling Avon," she said.

But ultimately, it is the bills causing the most problems.

"I bought an American car [before being laid off] because I didn't want to see another American go to the unemployment line," she said. "Now I don't know how I am going to pay for my new Ford."

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