Unemployment On The Rise

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Dzintra Dowling, 37, lives in a three-bedroom house in the Chicago suburb of Brookfield with her two children, ages 15 and 10. She has been out of a job since last October, when she was laid off at International Harvester. Dowling is separated and gets no financial support from her husband. Her weekly unemployment check of $199 ran out weeks ago, and she is "down to my last $20." She is now considering what would be to her a drastic measure: applying for welfare. "This morning I sat down after my son had gone to school and just bawled," she says. "It isn't because I'm worried about myself. It's, my God, what am I going to do with the kids? If it was just me, I could find a room somewhere and live on Campbell's soup and bologna sandwiches. But when you have children, it's different."

In Peoria, Ill., the Caterpillar Tractor Co. will lay off 1,700 workers this week, and those who are about to join the jobless are still disbelieving. "It's like being wounded in battle," says Jim O'Connor, president of United Auto Workers Local 794. "The initial shock is buried. Until a couple of months ago, people were walking around here with Reagan buttons on. Now I'm asking them if they liked inflation and a job better than no job. And they're saying, 'I'd rather have a job and raise hell about inflation.' "

Some who cannot find jobs locally are taking Reagan's advice and "voting with their feet" by moving to other states. When General Motors closed its plant in St. Louis last July and shifted to a more modern factory in Bowling Green, Ky., about 800 of its 900 hourly workers followed from St. Louis.

Some of the jobless who stayed put are struggling to cope. From the Detroit suburb of Hazel Park, Larry Hampton, 26, sets out once or twice a week in his pickup truck to search the streets for scrap. Sheet metal brings a penny a pound; cast iron $45 a ton. On a good day, Hampton earns $15, and it keeps him busy. "I've just got too many bills and not enough money to pay them," says Hampton, who lost his job in a machine shop last November. "It's scary."

Wayne Addison, 39, of Kokomo, Ind., lost his job with Chrysler last August, and has seven children to support, but claims not to be worried. "We've been cutting corners for years," he says. Addison's wife returned to work testing transistors at Delco, a division of General Motors. He buys most of the family groceries directly from farms, spending only $55 a week on food. Addison also barters his services, repairing a neighbor's clothes dryer in exchange for a new shirt. Still, Addison is bothered that his two eldest daughters must pay most of the bills for their weddings this spring. Says the father: "There ain't a man that likes to say, 'Well, daughter, I can't afford it for you.' "

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