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Kai Ryssdal: This is, for the most part, a season of celebrations. Friends and family and shared memories. On Wall Street, though, the memories are nothing short of lousy. Billions in losses. Tens of thousands of layoffs. And as the weekly and monthly unemployment reports relentlessly tell us, the pink slips keep on coming.
Marketplace's Amy Scott has been keeping an eye on how the financial crisis is changing the culture of Wall Street. A couple of weeks ago she spent some time with the recently unemployed at a holiday celebration -- of sorts.
Amy Scott: I found Chris Lewis by the bar, clutching a folder full of papers.
Turned out it was his severance package. Lewis had been let go from his job at Credit Suisse just hours before.
He was on his way home when he remembered an invitation he'd received to a Wall Street Pink Slip Party at a bar in lower Manhattan. "Mingle and Jingle," it said. Welcome the holiday season while looking for your next job.
Chris Lewis: I was just walking to the subway, and it immediately struck me. No, Chris don't go home. OK, go and meet some people. There might be a lot of people who are in the same boat as you are.
He was right. Hundreds of men and women milled about sipping drinks and exchanging business cards. The event was part of a series of parties aimed at matching out-of-work Wall Streeters with potential jobs. Pink glow-in-the-dark bracelets separated the job seekers from the recruiters, who wore green.
Dilip Pidikiti fell into the pink category. He lost his job as a research associate at a small broker-dealer a few months ago. He says he's getting by on some part-time work.
Dilip Pidikiti: Like dog walking on the Upper West Side, and government money, the unemployment benefits. And also from my parents, too. They paid for my month's rent.
Twenty four-year-old Munira Ahmed has been living with her parents. She graduated from college last spring, only to face the worst job market in decades.
Munira Ahmed: It is a very, very hard slap in the face. Because college was not a breeze, you know, so all the work that was supposed to pay off at the end, it's just not.
At the other end of the career spectrum Richard "Rabbit" Ryan was more philosophical. He's worked in one finance job or another since the early '80s, so he's seen cycles.
Richard Ryan: I enjoyed my job. I went to work every day. I gave 110 percent. And when my parent company decided they had to layoff tens of thousands of people, I was one of them cut. What can I do about it?
Maybe not much for a while. Ryan says nobody hires in December. He plans to enjoy the holidays and start fresh in the New Year.
In New York, I'm Amy Scott for Marketplace.