GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT)- For every unemployment statistic there is a face to see and a story to tell. In the east, highly qualified workers have been on the unemployment line for months.
At Richard and April Weir’s home, Christmas cards replace a tree. It would’ve been too much trouble this year. “It’s never off your mind,” said Richard. “In fact, it makes me quite angry. There’s a part of me that is extremely angry right now.”
A high school social studies teacher, Richard’s been unemployed for seven months. Last April, Richard’s principal at Farmville Central High School called him into his office. It wasn’t personal. “’It’s not your teaching,’” Richard said the principal told him. “’It’s nothing about you. It’s purely we will not have the money to renew this contract.’”
He thought telling his wife would be the hardest part. But that came just a few weeks later. April was pregnant. “The pressure is unbelievable, said Richard. “It’s hard. It’s hard.”
They had been trying to get pregnant for 11 years, but now the timing couldn’t be worse.
“Well what doctor’s appointment can we afford to go to this week? Can we afford the co-pay? Or should we get food this week?”
Richard looks for a job every day. He’s applied for teaching positions across the state. He has a Masters in Education from East Carolina University, but only one year teaching experience. Time and again, school districts turn him down.
“So it’s like the catch 22,” said April. “It’s like, he needs the experience but yet you’re not giving him the opportunity to show what he can do.”
April’s on maternity leave and Richard’s been drawing unemployment.
“This is thanks in large part to the food bank donations,” Richard said, looking at his pantry.
But soon they’ll have another mouth to feed. They’ve named their baby boy Connor, meaning ‘one who is wanted’.
“And being that we’ve tried for so long to have a baby, we felt like that was the perfect name to give our son,” said April. “So we chose Connor.”
It’s easy to worry.
“You have to have hope,” said Richard. “You have to have hope. I have to have hope that I’m gonna get a call and get a job. I have to have hope that next year will be better than this year.”
Richard interviewed for a job at Kinston High School Monday and hopes that will come through. Baby Connor is due December 30th, but doctors say he could come any day now.
I would like to add that this was based on a interview that took place over an hour and thirty minutes. During that time I expressed many view other than how pitiful we are right now. I spoke about politics and economics. I spoke about how there were people in far worse shape than us. I just want you all to know that there was more to my story than was told. Those of you who know me know this.