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Jobless Find a Creative Voice in Southern California

In Southern California, a photographer has been documenting the stories of the jobless -- the irony being that he himself was laid off at the end of 2008. Spencer Michels reports on the stories behind the unemployed.

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  • JIM LEHRER:

    Next tonight, those recession-driven job layoffs. NewsHour correspondent Spencer Michels reports.

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    When Michael Foley worked as an insurance salesman, he used to doodle while on the phone making sales pitches. These days, he's painting art full-time. The Fortune 50 company he was working for decided to move his job to another state where wages are lower.

  • MICHAEL FOLEY:

    It was a little callous. They came in, dressed to the teeth. One of the women had a little nice designer bag that probably was my month's pay, sat it down, and basically, you know, said, "Thanks for all the hard work. By the way, your livelihood's gone in about a month, so good luck," and walked out.

  • JOE CLAUS:

    I'll start photographing like basically far away and then kind of move closer and closer.

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    Foley was one of several laid-off workers who recently participated in a photo shoot in San Jose with photographer Joe Claus.

  • JOE CLAUS:

    I'm getting up real close to them to make a connection between the viewer and that person that's been laid off, you know, more of an emotional connection.

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    His photos of laid-off workers were recently published in an online magazine. And now he thinks his own layoff from a graphic design job may have been a blessing in disguise.

  • JOE CLAUS:

    It's really freed up some time for me to work on these projects that I love to do. You know, I didn't necessarily love working behind a computer for eight hours a day inside a cube with florescent lights.

  • SPENCER MICHELS:

    Nonetheless, when he recounts the day he lost his job, the feelings are still raw.

  • JOE CLAUS:

    I was pissed. I mean, it took me by surprise, and I felt like I was loyal to the company, and it kind of hurt, you know?

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