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

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Bumps On The Road Back To Work
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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

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Hope: A Precious Commodity In This Job Market
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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

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Finding Love While Searching For Work
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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

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Returning To Work: The Satisfaction Of Having A Job
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Annica Trotter prepares for a day at work at her new job as a receptionist. Tamara Keith/NPR hide caption

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The Thrill Of A Job, And The Worry Over Digging Out
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For The Long-Term Unemployed, The Hunt Continues
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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

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The Relief Of Finding A Less-Than-Perfect Job
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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

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The Strain Adds Up: Bills, Baby And A Job Search
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Randal Howland, 50, of St. Louis, lost his job over a year ago. Whitney Curtis for NPR hide caption

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Finding The Path Toward Employment In St. Louis
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Audio diaries, Jan. 6 and 7, 2011: "I'm going to sell, sell, sell myself…"
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Audio diary, Jan. 21, 2011: "I just got an e-mail back..."
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Audio diary, Jan. 10, 2011: "Today is our three-month anniversary…"
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Audio diary, Jan. 17, 2011: "Our family is definitely feeling the pinch…"
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Audio diary, Jan. 6, 2011: "…I better be making some bacon."
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Audio diary, Jan. 18, 2011: "I'll try and go into the library and do some research…"
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