By Jennifer Loren, The Oklahoma Impact Team
TULSA, OKLAHOMA -- Economists say the recession ended in June of 2009, but that doesn't mean the unemployment crisis is over. [See the report here] In fact those same economists say it will be 2013 before the unemployment rate returns to its pre-recession level. Even if it does, the recession has taken an irreversible toll on many Oklahomans.
Ella Alexander is a Tulsa woman, laid off from her staffing and recruiting job in July of 2009. We began telling her story in January of 2010, when she was still hopeful she'd find another job. She has more than twenty years of experience in that industry and thought that experience would pay off. But, even back then, she worried about losing her home.
Alexander received unemployment benefits each week, until now. After 63 weeks she received her final check. She still does not have a job and says she has given up her search.
She's now focused on her health. Alexander had back and leg pain when we first met her. But after 63 weeks with no health insurance she says hear health is much worse. She's now walking with a cane and says some days it's difficult to get out of bed at all. She pays about ten dollars a month toward a stack of medical bills, piling up after various trips to the emergency room for back pain.
Alexander has applied for full disability. If that doesn't come through she says she doesn't know what's next for her. She plans to apply for food stamps. But, she worries now more than ever she'll lose her home.