Published: Oct 12, 2012 10:53 PM EDT
Updated: Oct 13, 2012 12:21 AM EDT

LEHIGH ACRES, Fla. - While more people are feeling positive about the economy, the fact remains that many are still struggling to make ends meet. Thousands of aren't being counted in the government's monthly jobless reports because they aren't receiving benefits or have stopped applying for full-time jobs. That doesn't mean they aren't looking for work. Thanks to an article in the Lehigh Acres Citizen Newspaper, we learned about Jo Ellen Marino, a woman determined to make it without the government's help.

"I work for so many people around this neighborhood, it's amazing," Marino said.

Jo Ellen can find a job in anything. "I don't care what it is, washing toilets, Christmas time's coming up, everybody wants their windows washed, and their lights put up, and trees cut. "You go with the seasons."

After the elderly person she cared for passed away a couple years ago, Jo Ellen struggled to find work, applying for job after job. "There's no jobs here," she said.

Getting to work though, would pose another challenge. She had to sell her truck to pay bills. So now, she knocks on doors, doing odd jobs for neighbors - cooking, cleaning, and landscaping. She earns $20 here, $40 there.

"$10 to pick up the pine cones," Jo Ellen said.

Often, the ends don't meet. Her power was shut off in June and July. And now, she has no water, depending on the kindness of neighbors to borrow a few gallons at a time.

The Labor Department says the economy added 114,000 jobs in September, and the unemployment rate dropped from 8.1% to 7.8%. But what about people like Jo Ellen who aren't counted?

She's been in-between jobs before, but has never applied for unemployment benefits. For Jo Ellen, the future is unclear and frightening.
But one thing not in her plans is giving up.

"I never knew to quit," Marino said. "I don't know, I'll always come up with something, somehow, some way."

Jo Ellen also volunteers at a nearby food pantry when she doesn't find work around the neighborhood. Her dream job would be to go back to caring for an elderly person.

You can read the full article by the Lehigh Acres Citizen Newspaper at: