The People Behind the Job Loss Numbers

Numbers are cold and impersonal. Numbers don't cry.

Karen Albert, a 48-year-old mother of two from Bend, Ore., lost her job at a tire dealership two weeks ago.

"I just sat there for a few minutes and they had me clean out my desk and leave. And I called my daughter from the parking lot and told her what was going on, and I cried all the way home," she said.

Albert is one of more than 180,000 people laid off in the last month. That's nearly three times the number of people that filled the stands at the Super Bowl.

VIDEO: A woman on the phone at a desk.
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"It's shocking, it's hard, it's scary, it's frightening," Albert said.

Last year, nearly 2.6 million people lost their jobs. To put that in perspective, that's about the population of Nevada.

Ed and Emily Bexley were laid off one right after the other, he in August, she in September.

"I kind of got a sick feeling in my stomach," Ed Bexley said.

"It was heart-crushing, really," Emily Bexley said. "I just cried, you know? And cried and cried because none of us have a job."

Numbers can make you angry, though. Wall Street doled out $18.4 billion in bonuses last year. That amount of money could pay one year of public college tuition for nearly every incoming college freshman.

"That's just stupid," Karen Albert said, echoing the feelings of many working people.

Meanwhile, students like Elliot Schwartz are struggling to pay for college.

"The bank actually said, 'We're increasing your interest rate because of the current economic turbulence.' It's, it's just so frustrating. You know, I'm just here. I have a chem test tomorrow," he said.

Lawmakers in Washington are debating the president's stimulus plan, which could come to as much as $900 billion. The White House says the plan could create between 3 million and 4 million jobs -- that's double the number of people who jammed the Washington Mall for President Obama's inauguration.

"If what they are saying is true, then it is great, but if it is not true, then not so great," Albert said.

She remains hopeful, though.

"It may not happen today or tomorrow, it may not even happen in the next month or two," she said. "But something better is out there."

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