Unemployment is a closely watched statistic, and for 12.5 million Americans, a humbling reality. The percentage of people out of work peaked at 10 percent in October 2009, and while the rate hovers stubbornly at 8.2 percent, at least some of the long-term unemployed are beginning to find permanent jobs. This spring, Bloomberg Businessweek assigned photographers to follow several people as they returned to the workplace after absences ranging from seven months to three and a half years. Each story is unique, yet there are common themes: feelings of uselessness, the disturbing ease with which one’s professional identity slips away, the humiliation of asking family or friends for a loan, and, finally, the rewards of adaptability and persistence.
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