Unemployment leaves many seeking help

SOUTH PASADENA, Calif. For almost a decade, South Pasadena resident Andy Au worked for pharmaceutical giant Bristol-Myers Squibb. It is a company where he had hoped to spend the rest of his working days. However, things changed this past summer.

"I came back in June from a fantastic incentive trip where I was the top seven sales person in the country. But, then I was laid off - terminated - at the end of August," said Au.

Au is one of the many people being laid off from top U.S. companies. Circuit City, Lehman Brothers and IndyMac were all once considered party of America's staple businesses. However, they are now gone and experts say this is just the beginning.

"If you're not the first or second in your industry, forget about it, you need to get out," said Jack Kyser, Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation.

Los Angeles resident Colin Kakiza learned the hard way. He tried to run his own coffee company. But now, he has lost his business and his home. He and his family now live at the Union Rescue Homeless Mission in Downtown Los Angeles.

"Never in my wildest imaginations had I ever thought ... I mean, I was I a student of economics, a professional with a family. You're thinking, how did this happen to you?" said Kakiza.

Not many people are coming to shelters for help, but they are turning to other places.

By Design Financial Solutions is a non-profit credit counseling service in Southern California. Since January, the company says they have received twice as many calls.

"People that were used to getting raises, seeing their stock portfolios go up and tapping that equity from their stocks or from their houses. And now a lot of those lines of credit are no longer available," said Richard Pittman, By Design Financial Solutions.

The biggest dilemma for their customers is how to conserve money after being blindsided by a layoff.

Counselors offer several solutions such as:

  • Cutting back on haircuts, cable and other entertainment costs
  • Buying groceries at bulk warehouse stores
  • Reducing energy bills by unplugging lamps and chargers when not in use
  • And doing things, like laundry and washing your car, yourself
For Andy Au and his family cutting corners is crucial these days. After months of searching, he is still without a job.

"I mean eventually the money runs out, eventually the unemployment runs out, but we have tried to continue our lives as much as possible," said Au.

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