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Jobless In Seattle: Researcher Struggles To Get Back In The Market

KUOW Photo/Ruby de Luna
Suzan Del Bene (left) held a round table discussion on unemployment benefits, January 2, 2014, at the WorkSource Affiliate Office at North Seattle Community College.

More than 24,000 Washington residents lost their federal unemployment benefits late last month. Congress let expire an emergency federal jobless program that was created in 2008 during the great recession.

One Seattle researcher has been struggling to find work since last spring.  Forty-three year old Aurelio Silvestroni was laid off last April from the University of Washington. He was doing research on brain diseases. A foundation grant funded his work. When the grant wasn’t renewed, Silvestroni was let go.

One of the first things he and his wife did was pull their two-year-old son out of daycare. That has helped save some money, but it’s also made it hard to spend time on his job search. “With a two year old, to open the computer is difficult,” he said. “He jumps onto the computer, so it’s difficult to have time, because looking for a job requires time.”

Silvestroni shared his story with Congresswoman Suzan Del Bene at a recent roundtable. Del Bene is renewing the call to extend unemployment benefits for people like Silvestroni.

Silvestroni said he has been looking for research work in universities. He’s also tried the biotech industry. But there aren’t many jobs, and so far he’s been turned down. It’s not lack of skills, but because his experience has been limited to universities.

Silvestroni said it’s been frustrating. “Research is research; it doesn’t matter whether it’s a biotech company or academia,” he said.

Silvestroni is anxious to go back to work. There are bills to pay and children to support. In addition to his toddler, he has two children in Argentina from a previous marriage.

Silvestroni said he’s trying to stay optimistic about finding work soon. But he also worries that the longer time passes, the more difficult it’s going to be to get a job.

Year started with KUOW: 1994