By Gerri Elder
We cringe when we hear that the national unemployment rate is now 8.5 percent, according to U.S. Department of Labor statistics.
Millions are unable to find jobs after mass layoffs and more join the jobless ranks each week.
We have to think back to 1983 to remember a time when so many people were out of work.
As bad as it seems, we may not even be hearing the whole story, according to a startling report by MSN Money.
There are millions of Americans who are working part-time and making far less income than normal because they can't find full-time employment.
Many more have given up on their job searches after coming up empty week after week.
Those who are self-employed and have seen their livelihoods vanish are also feeling the squeeze.
These people are not included in the current unemployment statistics.
If they were, the national unemployment rate would total a mind-boggling 15.6 percent.
Unemployment is now at its highest level since tracking began after World War II.
The job market is unbelievably tight.
Those who found work after a layoff are often receiving less benefits and a fraction of the pay of their former jobs.
Others take temporary contracts without benefits just to make ends meet.
For some, going back to school to learn a new skill seems to be the only way, but education often comes with a debt attached.
Americans are already burdened with huge debts.
The recession has caused many people to rely on credit for everyday necessities—and our outstanding balances have grown.
Millions of families have either walked away or been evicted from their homes due to foreclosure.
Economists do not predict a swift drop in the unemployment rate, even if recent stock market activity signals economic recovery is on the way. These experts predict the jobless rate will remain high for some time to come.
For some, bankruptcy can provide a fresh start.
For the unemployed, as time moves forward, bankruptcy becomes an increasingly attractive option.
For those who cannot find jobs, removing the weight of these debts can relieve a lot of stress.
Filing under 13 is usually a better option for those who own their homes and may be facing foreclosure.
The automatic stay of bankruptcy stops legal actions by creditors and can give debtors time to work out a solution and avoid foreclosure.
Although there may be no jobs to be found for some time to come, debtors do have the option of bankruptcy to eliminate and/or manage debts.
Bankruptcy can provide some security for the unemployed and take up some of the slack where the economy has failed.