MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - Got a pink slip, grab your gun. That's what an ex-con says he may have to do to pay his bills. It's the darker side of the unemployment numbers just released Thursday afternoon.
Unemployment is up in counties across Tennessee. In Shelby County the unemployment rate is 8.8 percent. In Memphis, 10 percent of the people are out of work.
Nearly 55,000 people in the Mid-South are receiving unemployment benefits and many more have dropped off the books. People looking for work say it's a nightmare.
“Yesterday at work during lunch time they tell me I'm going to get laid off after 7 years,” said Andre Turnage.
All day Thursday Turnage spent the day applying for unemployment. He can't even begin telling you how hard and frustrating it is to find a job.
"I'm sweating now because I'm mad. I got a car note, a house, insurance, and how am I going to pay all of that? With this 200 something dollars they're going to give me with unemployment? That's not enough,” Turnage told abc24.com.
He says he was a hard worker and still got the pink slip. As an ex-convict he fears no other company will hire him and he will be forced to return to a life of crime.
"What am I supposed to do now? Put a pistol in my hand and go at it, again? That's what I don't want to do, go back to the streets but with the bills that I got it's like that's what I might have to do,” Turnage said.
Lisa Spencer understands his pain.
"I'd figure I would already have a job by now, long time ago and I wouldn't still be sitting here,” Spencer said while sitting in the unemployment office in Memphis.
She doesn't have a criminal record but she's been unemployed for a year and knows how hard it is to put food on the table.
"It's just really tough and frustrating. I'm trying not to cry,” Spencer says as she wipes her tears from her cheek, “you live on a certain amount of money and then when it's gone, what do you do?"
People across the Mid-South are losing their jobs. The unemployment rates in Tipton and DeSoto Counties stand at 8.4 percent. Fayette County is 8.5 percent. Crittenden County is 11 percent. The highest in the Mid-South is in Obion County, where 13.2 percent of the people are unemployed.
"It is what it is. I just pray and put it in God's hands. There will be a door that will open for me,” said Spencer.
Economists say hiring slowed sharply in April and May, raising concerns about the strength of the economy.