Jobless often forced into lower-paying jobs

The new reality of Stacy Drisdom-Allen's life began to settle in the fourth week of her unemployment: the sleepless nights, the blues of more bills than income, the endless hours in front of a computer screen that offered few possibilities.

A former sales manager at a travel company, Drisdom-Allen had just been told -- after applying for more than 40 jobs in five cities -- that she was overqualified for one position and underqualified for another, and those assessments were from the employers who had bothered to respond.

In the quiet of her den, as her infant daughter napped, Drisdom-Allen leaned into her husband's shoulder and wept.

''In that moment, I realized that going to college, a lifelong career, all of my experience in sales and logistics, somehow may not be enough to find a good position,'' said Drisdom-Allen, 37, who lives in Plantation. ``In that moment, I knew that I just had to find a job, to generate income, and deal with my career later.''

The recession has ravaged the workplace and stripped unemployed professionals of what would seem like natural options, forced them into lower-paying positions, sometimes even hourly wages a world away from their original careers. With so few choices, tens of thousands of South Floridians are also re-prioritizing, rethinking their career goals and in some ways returning to a simpler life.

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