EDITOR: Politicians have dropped the ball on jobs. More than 16 percent of the adult workforce is unemployed or underemployed. The economy and job market have left many feeling battered.

Because our careers tend to define us, feelings of emptiness and defeat often follow the loss of a job. Many have stopped believing in possibilities, especially people over 50. Older workers face age discrimination for the first time in their lives, seeing their jobs outsourced or occupied by younger, less experienced workers who are paid less.

People all over are struggling financially and watching their dreams shatter. Along with the economic hit, there is a psychological hit. Extended unemployment can lead to self-defeating thoughts and a loss of self-confidence, putting one at risk for depression.

Unless more people start working, paying taxes and making mortgage payments, it's difficult to see how the economy can be revived or the long-term debt challenge resolved. The urgent priority should be getting people back to work. When will Washington put jobs at the top of the national agenda?