Jobless on LI Part I: Unemployed in an unforgiving economy

SMITHTOWN - It's a growing population on Long Island: people who were once thriving with top careers in good fields, who now find themselves unemployed and struggling to survive in an unforgiving economy.

Anne and Mel Strauss, of Smithtown, know all too well what joblessness is like. They lost their jobs and have been scrounging to find work for years.Mel Strauss went to Hofstra University and got his Master's degree at Penn State University. Then, when the housing market crashed in 2005, he lost his job in the banking industry. Three years later, as the recession worsened, his wife lost her job in the public relations industry, and their American Dream turned into more of a nightmare. Mel Strauss says he's been turned down for tons of jobs, from supermarket cashier to florist, because he's overqualified. Anne Strauss says she's sent out more than 2,000 resumes in the past three years with very little response. The couple was forced to cash in its 401ks to pay off their house so they could survive. For now, while they continue to look for jobs, Anne says she spends some of her abundance of free time volunteering with the charitable organization Long Island Cares.

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