The “for sale” sign in the front yard of Carter Wentworth’s home in Maine has been there since May, when the graphic designer was laid off. “I’m selling it as a fallback,” he says of the house. “I really don’t want to lose it.”
The 57-year-old father lost his job unexpectedly. A manager at his Portsmouth, N.H.–based design company came to him one day and said, “We can’t meet payroll.” He says he hasn’t found a job because, among other reasons, he’s older -- and overqualified. “There are just very few [want] ads in this region for senior people,” he says, though he’s open to working anywhere between Boston -- where his partner of four years, Jay Bowen, lives -- and Portland, Maine. “I don’t want to go to a different part of the country, but I may have to.
“It’s hard for anyone at my level of experience,” he continues. “All the jobs are for people with two to five years of experience. The companies I’ve talked to have been socked with a lot of senior-level people applying for right-out-of-college jobs.” The few leads he’s had have been for temporary placements, which lack benefits. So he’s trying to make himself more marketable by taking classes in Web programming and design -- not that it’s working. “Even those firms are having huge cutbacks,” he says.
Complicating matters is that his daughter, Molli, started her freshman year at Tufts University this fall, where yearly tuition is around $37,000. And Molli’s mom, who lives nearby in Newburyport, Mass., has been laid off too. Fortunately, their daughter got “a fair amount of scholarship money,” Wentworth says. “But for the last $4,000 loan, I had to get my sister to cosign because of my situation. The rest had to go on Discover.”
Already behind on his mortgage payments, Wentworth thinks he can probably get by for another six months. Fortunately, he can move in with Bowen if he needs to, but when the unemployment checks stop coming? “I’ll have to go out and get a junk job,” he says. “At this point I’ll take anything I can get.”
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