A day in the life: America's long-term unemployed

Updated 9:10 AM ET, Wed June 13, 2012
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David Watson is one of more than 5 million long-term unemployed Americans. The former Marine and resident of Sanford, Florida, has been without a job for more than a year despite a relentless pursuit for employment. He has interviewed for more than 60 positions, but he believes a bad credit score keeps him from being hired. Today, the home Watson shares with his 14-year-old son and a second piece of property he owns are in foreclosure. Father and son are living day to day, selling items around the house to make ends meet. CNN photojournalist John Couwels provides a look at a day in the life of how this American family is dealing with the uncertainty and pressure of long-term unemployment. John Couwels/CNN
Board games have replaced recreational sports for Timothy now that his father can't afford to pay for hockey anymore. Watson says his son has taken it all in stride and is still maintaining good grades at school. Economists have called the rising number of long-term unemployed "a national emergency." John Couwels/CNN
Watson, 46, had been an operations manager at Culligan Water. He spends nearly every day at his computer looking for work. When frustration sets in after hours at the computer searching, he says, "I grab my Bible," which sits next to his keyboard. John Couwels/CNN
To make ends meet, Watson has been selling items around the house, from antiques to school supplies. He's considering selling everything from his riding lawn mower to the bricks from a wall on his property. Both Watson's home and another piece of property are in foreclosure, meaning he and his son will have to find another place to live, possibly by the end of summer. John Couwels/CNN
Three times a week, Watson heads to the offices of a local job placement program where -- if he's lucky -- he can get one of the few $10 gas cards. John Couwels/CNN
On top of his financial situation, Watson has been dealing with a bitter divorce and custody battle over his daughter. He already has custody of Timothy. The former Marine's eyes tear up with pride and love when he speaks about his two kids. John Couwels/CNN
Watson hasn't had to sell the drum set, which both father and son play. The love of drums unites the two, who relentlessly tap their fingers on the kitchen table when they're not playing. John Couwels/CNN
To receive a monthly stipend of $240 from the state of Florida, Watson volunteers at a local food pantry, where he marks food items for sale. He also receives $347 a month in food stamps. John Couwels/CNN
Watson shops for food at the same food pantry, which is operated by a faith-based organization. "I always find a way to find just enough," Watson says of buying food for him and his son. "It's amazing!" John Couwels/CNN
Watson draws inspiration from a Bible verse that hangs in his hallway. "I pass by (it) numerous times throughout the day," he says. "Employed or unemployed ... I know that he is God, and I know that it will happen. It's not a matter of if it will; it's just a matter of when it will." John Couwels/CNN