Jobless man holds sign in Daley Plaza

February 3, 2010 3:33:01 PM PST
The jobless rate in the Chicago area is just under 11 percent. That means a lot of people have been looking for work for a long time.Del Phillips is long past the point of being embarrassed because he's out of work. And now he is wearing an old-fashioned sandwich board in Daley Plaza to help him find a job. Mostly, he's being ignored, but he's not giving up.

"Well, you know, I've been unemployed for a year," said Phillips. "I've tried everything. Applied for jobs on line, talked with people, networked with folks, and it hasn't worked. So I decided it's time to do something a little more drastic and turn to some of the Depression-era tactics."

There's nothing new about the sandwich board. It was big during the Depression, and often the sidewalks were filled with people like Phillips, who walks now through Daley Plaza during another depressed time. He's 32 years old and has worked since he was 13. And he's very qualified.

"I have two degrees," he said. "I have a bachelor's and a master's...both of them in French with a business minor."

He speaks French fluently and is interested in a job at a college working in admissions. But so far, no luck, and his bank is broke.

"My savings are completely blown right now," Phillips said. "I tried to keep my head above water with my mortgage and tried to keep my good credit score."

So his lifelong savings are devastated. He has had to sell his condo. But that's just part of it. What about the emotional aspects of it?

"It's been really tough," Phillips said. "It's been something that's been fairly demoralizing. I'm somewhere where I never thought I'd find myself at only 32 years old."

Del Phillips can be reached at