After losing her job as a secretary at Stein Mart in 2009, Alicia Bird looked for similar positions at companies like CSX and Baptist Medical Center. But she didn’t have any luck.

So she lowered her ambitions, applying to Publix, Winn-Dixie and Wal-Mart. Still, no offers, except a job cleaning bathrooms at Save-A-Lot, which her husband wouldn’t let her take.

As her unemployment stretched into months and years, she felt depressed, confused and angry, even with the support she got from her church and her dozens of nieces and nephews. Finally, she gave up.

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