I fear for the shadow people because they are my peeps.

Who are the shadow people? They are the countless thousands and millions of nameless faceless people in the United States who no longer appear in the monthly jobless figures. They are a silent minority that are working for their next career break or who have adapted to a shrunken household economy. Either way, they live in the shadows of an economy that is struggling to regain its footing.

Among the shadow people are those who have been looking for jobs for so long that their unemployment has run out. Detractors will say these are lazy folks who don’t want to work, and maybe there are some in this group who are that way.

But my bet is that most of these people would love to have jobs. They want to pay their bills. They want to work in the field that they have been educated in and have prepared most of their lives to work in.

For these people it’s not always as easy as going out and getting the first job that comes available. They are middle managers or mid-career people who have lifestyles that require a certain salary to survive. For most of them, the last thing they wanted to do was to be on unemployment. They’ve worked hard to build careers but now they loom amongst the shadows.

I feel for the shadow people because I have walked in their shoes.

The shadow people also include those who have gone to a cash-only economy to sustain their household income. They mow lawns, wash cars, pooper scooper doggie doo from yards and other odd jobs for cash while they continue to apply for jobs in their career fields.

The shadow people are not afraid of hard work. They are young. They are old. And they pride themselves in doing whatever it takes to keep a solid income stream coming in to sustain their families.They are willing to do the things that no one else wants to do in order to keep food on the table.

We shadow people have all had to make the choice between buying shoes for our children instead of clothes for ourselves. Our lifestyles have become based on doing without and working around not having the newest or latest of anything. We know the cost of each item and each repair that comes our way. We want for our children and know the sacrifice it takes to get there.

I pray for the shadow people because I want things to get better.

It took nearly two years of searching for me to find full-time employment. Sure, I had some pretty good freelance clients along the way to sustain me, and I am thankful for that. But there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about being one stroke of the economic pen away from being back out on the streets looking for work.

I think about the 2 a.m. shifts I worked as a freelance writer. I think about the odd jobs I’ve done and the relatives I’ve counted on for help and support.

It’s taxing physically. It’s taxing mentally. And most important, it’s taxing emotionally.

I pray that the economy will continue to rise and that the jobless recovery will start sprouting good-paying jobs so that all the shadow people – the ones who have reconciled themselves to a life with less –can step out of the darkness and back among the gainfully employed.

So I pray for the shadow people because they are my peeps.