Ray Meyer researches potential employers at the library near his home in Kirkwood, Mo. He says the uncertainty of temp work is gnawing away at him. Tamara Keith/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Tamara Keith/NPR

Before and after shots of Randy Howland. Howland grew out his hair and beard while working from home but decided to cut it off before a job interview. Lisa Howland hide caption

itoggle caption Lisa Howland

Brian and Jennifer Barfield met at a networking group for the unemployed. This is one of their engagement photos. Courtesy of the Barflields hide caption

itoggle caption Courtesy of the Barflields

Lisa Howland says her husband, Randy, smiles a lot more now that he's working, even though the job doesn't pay enough to cover all their bills. Tamara Keith/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Tamara Keith/NPR

Annica Trotter prepares for a day at work at her new job as a receptionist. Tamara Keith/NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Tamara Keith/NPR

Roni Chambers, executive director of Go! Network (right), checks in Jennifer Barfield, 47, and her husband, Brian Barfield, 53, at a job networking meeting in downtown St. Louis. Whitney Curtis for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Whitney Curtis for NPR

Annica Trotter, 25, is feeling financially stressed by her job search. She recently had to cancel her Internet service and car insurance. Whitney Curtis for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Whitney Curtis for NPR

Randal Howland, 50, of St. Louis, lost his job over a year ago. Whitney Curtis for NPR hide caption

itoggle caption Whitney Curtis for NPR