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The increasing difficulty of being out of work

People looking for work stand in line to apply for a job during a job fair in Miami, Fla.

If you go on Craigslist these days, you'll sometimes see stuff for sale by people who say they need the money after their federal unemployment benefits ran out. People like 38-year-old Sean Brereton of Northport, New York who lost his mid-level job in commercial banking. He recently sold a flat screen TV because he and his wife's cash-flow is down to near nothing.

"Over the Christmas season, I went to apply at major department stores and they basically told me that a white-collar worker with a college degree, they won't even hire," Bereton says. "It leaves me in a position where I'm still paying Sallie Mae for my student loans, but I can't even get a job at a department stores."

Cheryl Jones was also selling on Craigslist. Her latest round of unemployment benefits ran out in December. She's a welder who lost her job in Texas when a GM plant closed. Just before that layoff notice, her husband had passed away from cancer, which drew down her savings. Jones says she's now looking for work in the Raleigh-Durham of North Carolina area after not having much luck in Florida.

"I've sold everything I could possibly sell," she says. "My wedding set from 34 years of marriage, I had to sell it...I was trying to sell it for $6,000, but I got to the poing where I had to pay my bills, so I put it on eBay and I only got $800 out of my rings, but it gave me enough to pay my car payments and my phone."

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About the author

David Brancaccio is the host of Marketplace Morning Report. Follow David on Twitter @DavidBrancaccio

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