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Friday, November 29, 2013

10 Things Not to Say to Your Out-of-Work Friend

By Alison Green
US News
October 2, 2013

If you have an out-of-work friend who’s trying to find a job, you probably want to be supportive and say the right thing to make her search easier. But well-intentioned comments can easily make a stressed-out job-searcher feel worse. Here are 10 things you should never say to an out-of-work friend.

1. “It must be nice to have so much time off work.” It might look to you like it’s nice to have plenty of time to run errands and watch Netflix, but this will make you sound insensitive to the stress and anxiety of unemployment, which your friend is almost certainly dealing with. Being unemployed isn’t a vacation. For many people, it’s more stressful than going to an office every day.

2. “How many interviews have you had?” There’s no way for this question to make your friend feel good. If she hasn’t had many, she’ll feel awkward explaining that. And if she’s had a lot, she’ll worry that you’ll wonder why none of them have led to an offer. Don’t put your friend in the position of explaining how successfully or unsuccessfully her search is going after all, the only success that really matters is when she gets a job.

3. “Have you tried looking for jobs online?” Unless your friend is unusually inept with technology, she’s looking for jobs online. Possibly daily. Suggestions of tried-and-true methods like this one can be aggravating for job-seekers, and can come across as if you don’t have faith in her ability to manage her own search.

4. “Why don’t you try temping?” While this can be a good suggestion for some people, temping isn’t as reliable of an income source as it used to be. With so many people out of work and competing for the same jobs, even temporary ones, many qualified job seekers report that they’ve registered at multiple temp agencies and never been called.

5. “Did you apply for that job I sent you?” You’re probably just asking out of curiosity or to be supportive, but it can put your friend in an awkward spot. She might have determined that job you sent wasn’t right for her, or she might have applied and not appreciate your stirring up anxiety about why she hasn’t heard back. It’s great to pass along job opportunities that you see, but make sure you don’t sound like you’re nagging about them afterward.

6. “But you’re so smart (or accomplished or well educated). You shouldn’t have trouble finding a job.” You might think you’re being supportive, but since your friend apparently has had trouble finding a job, you’ll either make her feel bad about herself (why hasn’t anyone wanted to hire her if she’s so smart?) or make her think that you’re naive about the very tough realities of today’s job market.

7. “You hated your old job anyway.” Sure, your friend might have hated her boss or not gotten along with her co-worker, but she would probably rather have the income from that job than not have any work at all.

8. “Have you heard back from that interview you had last week?” This is a good way to remind your friend of something she might be trying not to agonize over. When a job-searcher has good news that she wants to share, you’ll hear it.

9. “Let’s go out to (expensive dinner / concert / trip).” Without any income coming in, your friend is probably watching her budget, so be careful about the cost of any activities you suggest. The exception to this, of course, is if you’re treating.

10. “It’s taking you so long to find a job!” Don’t expect your friend to find a job immediately or express surprise that she’s been searching for so long. In this market, job searches take months, and in some cases a year or more. Comments like this can be excruciating for the job searcher, who might be working far harder than you know.

Alison Green writes the popular Ask a Manager blog, where she dispenses advice on career, job search, and management issues. She’s also the co-author of Managing to Change the World: The Nonprofit Manager’s Guide to Getting Results, and former chief of staff of a successful nonprofit organization, where she oversaw day-to-day staff management, hiring, firing, and employee development.

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The 6 worst things to say to an unemployed friend
From “everything happens for a reason” to “have you considered dog walking?”

By Carmel Lobello
The Week
October 9, 2013

Losing one’s job packs a double-punch these days: There’s the initial loss of a steady paycheck, benefits, security, routine, pride, identity, etc. Then there’s the anxiety around facing an enormous career setback. Research shows that employers rarely consider hiring the long-term unemployed a huge problem for the 4.3 million Americans who have been out of work for 27 weeks or more, largely because of the recession.

So what do you say to someone you know and love who either just lost their job, or has been stuck in this unemployment catch-22 for months?

Chances are, there’s not much you can say to help their situation. But in the past five years, the world has collected a lot of wisdom (often in the form of angry blog posts by unemployed people) about what not to say. Here, the top six things to avoid saying to the recently ח or chronically unemployed.

1. “Are you enjoying your time off?”
It seems almost ridiculous that anyone would say this, but it popped up on a lot of blogs, so remember: If your friend doesn’t have savings or a trust fund to finance his unemployment, he’s probably spending his time panicking and looking for a job ח not rewatching The Wire or taking improv classes. Unemployment sucks. Get on board with that ASAP.

A recently unemployed XO Jane writer put it like this: “I understand tough work schedules. I worked in a local Emergency Department for 3 years while I was in college. I have worked 16-hour shifts and 60-hour weeks. I would go back to that in a second over sitting on this couch with all this free time on my hands.”

2. “My friend Tony is going through the same thing you should give him a call.”
Misery is supposed to love company, but that doesn’t mean you should set up your unemployed friends on blind dates. Unemployed folks don’t want to feel sequestered off from the rest of the world any more than the rest of us. Instead, try just continuing to be a friend. Tell them about your day at work, invite them out to things. As Stephanie Georgopulos says at The Awl, “You may feel the pressure sometimes, employed friend. Sometimes taking care of us might feel like taking care of a depressed significant other or an ailing pet. Don’t fret ח you don’t have to take us out for the time of our lives; we’re not terminal, we just want to laugh and forget about being unemployed for a few hours.”

3. “Remember how much you hated your boss.”
This is really jerky but apparently a lot of people say this. So, as far as you’re concerned, the second your friend gets fired or laid off, his entire history of complaining about work ח his boss, his coworkers, his hours, how the 9-to-5 grind has destroyed his dreams is wiped from your memory. Live in the now. Chronic unemployment is more annoying than an annoying boss.

4. “Everything happens for a reason.”
The right time to say this is after your unemployed friend finds a new job - a good job - and you’re on vacation together drinking mai tais, talking about what an unexpected turn his career took and how he never thought he’d enjoy consulting, much less find it fulfilling. That’s when you drop the ol’ “everything happens” saying - not while he’s struggling.

5. “Have you considered dog walking?”
Your friend has definitely considered dog walking, and babysitting, and temping. There’s nothing inherently wrong with those jobs, but depending on which rung on the professional ladder your friend was kicked off, and how long it took him to get there, he might not be ready to start considering odd jobs. This may change over time but let him decide when to mention his new dog walking business.

6. “What have you been doing with your time?” (In a really concerned voice)
This might seem like a crazy choice for this list. Obviously, it’s nice to ask people about their day, and unemployed people are not necessarily fragile and oversensitive. Like Georgeolulos said, the unemployed are not terminal. That said, the wording of this phrase - which implies that there’s a lot of time to fill - can definitely be irksome. So just say “what’s up” and don’t be weird about it.

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Posted by Elvis on 11/29/13 •
Section Dealing with Layoff
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The Silver Tsunami

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Over 50, Out of Work: Retirement seen as impossible dream

By Lorraine Ash
November 26, 2013

For Michael Tetto of Morris Plains, retirement isnt so much a goal as a mirage.

The 65-year-old makes ends meet by working as a senior quality analyst by day and pumping gas in Parsippany by night. For years, he also catered barbecues on the weekends, but he gave up the food gig in 2011. It was too much.

Truth is, Tetto doesn’t have any choice but to keep working around the clock. Seventeen years ago, his first company downsized him. At 48, he found himself starting all over again at the bottom of the corporate ladder. In spite of a degree in business administration and 30 years of corporate experience, the salary was far below what he was used to making.

“Because the salary was so low, and I needed to provide for my family, I took on the other jobs,” he said.

Things haven’t gotten much better in the past 17 years. In his present daytime corporate position, he hasn’t had a raise in seven years, he said, in spite of the fact all his performance ratings are outstanding.

“It’s because of the economy,” he said. “We just got an email from our CEO saying we can’t expect any increases for the upcoming year, either. I stay because I need to keep a job. What am I going to do? Quit and go look somewhere else? Where? It’s a dead end thing. Its just a rotating circle for me.”

Now hes committed to paying tuition for his 18-year-old son from his second marriage and freeing his wife’s time to care for her infirm mother.

There are plenty of workers like Tetto and, if analysts are right, there will be for years to come.

In the mid-1980s and early 1990s, people 65 and older were working, or looking for work, in historically low numbers, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That reality makes the ongoing rise in their labor force participation all the more notable: In 1990, 12.1 percent were working or looking for work. By 2014, its likely that percentage will be 19.7.

The U.S. Census Bureau projects the rise another way: By 2050 the number of workers 65 and older will grow by 75 percent while the number of workers 25 to 54 will grow by 2 percent.

Some experts describe the phenomenon as “the silver tsunami,” referencing the social and financial challenges that will present themselves as the number of senior citizens grows across the globe.

Certainly, the problem hits home. From 2000 to 2010 the number of New Jersey citizens 65 and older increased even as the number of births dropped, according to the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development. Of all 21 counties in the state, Morris saw the largest increase in these senior residents - 13,625.

Forbes Blogger Ted Siedle writes the work crisis that will strike older workers is likely to come more in waves than all at once. The waves comprise the return of retirees to the workplace; the decision of current workers to delay retirement; the resignation of many workers to the reality of never retiring; and the reality that many elders will be drowned by a perfect storm - no savings, no employment prospects, and failing health.

Even the number of the most elderly workers, age 75 and older, is predicted to grow by 84.3 percent through 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

A case in point is Tony Campana, 75, of Jefferson, a community homebuilder who also worked in banking and as a Realtor.

“It’s difficult now going through the last three years with real estate. It was very, very hard,” he said. “Land prices are high. You pay them and then you can’t get it back. I completed the last house I built a little over two years ago and I was paying close to $3,000 a month - taxes, insurance - just to hold onto it. That money just went out the window.”

The house sold last December, but now he’s actively jobseeking, he said, because he doesn’t want to keep tapping retirement and inheritance funds. Like Tetto, Campana has family responsibilities. He and his wife are raising four grandchildren.

He looks forward to offering a strong set of skills to just the right employer and said he would most enjoy being a property manager or a superintendent for a builder.

“My contemporaries in my field are working in Lowes and Home Depot,” he said. “I don’t want to do that. They’re my tradesmen - plumbers, electricians. They’re the specifics people. They’re technicians. I’m not a technician. I’m a delegator. A lot of people can’t coordinate contractors.”

Nonetheless, he finds himself looking at all types of jobs. Recently, he applied for one as a corporate chauffeur.

“It won’t take a whole lot of money to get by,” he said.

Why is the 65-plus generation in such a pinch, and what can help them? Only a look at the economy at large can answer both questions. Statistics show that they, and the work force of other generations, are simply finding what’s being offered - low-wage positions and part-time work.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics found a troubling trend in the kinds of jobs lost and gained nationwide during the Great Recession of 2007-09 and the subsequent recovery:

Lower-wage occupations, paying median wages of $7.69 to $13.83 per hour, accounted for 21 percent of losses and 58 percent of growth;

Mid-wage occupations, paying median wages $13.84 to $21.13 per hour, accounted for 60 percent of losses and 22 percent of growth.

And so some Americans are patching together a living from holding multiple, low-wage, part-time jobs.

“Part-time work is exploding in the United States,” said Carl Van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University. “If you’re in a high finance and technology field, you probably don’t want primarily part-time workers, but many other parts of our economy are very dependent on a part-time work force.”

According to the Associated Press, part-time work has made up 77 percent of the job growth so far this year.

When demand for products and services is soft, employers first get the existing work force to work harder and more hours, according to Van Horn. The next thing they do is hire part-time workers.

“The last thing they do is hire full-time workers,” he said. “Some of the most successful companies in the United States rely almost entirely on a part-time work force - Apple, Walmart, Amazon. These large companies are very dependent on part-time workers. Employers are figuring out how to make do with more part-time workers because they found that they can.”

“Before hiring picks up,” he said, “there must be more than the modest economic growth of the past few years.”

In the meantime, American workers just keep making do.

“It’s frustrating. I try not to think of it,” Tetto said. “I like to keep busy, but I get this phobia thing. Suppose the company where I have my daytime job starts looking to downsize. What if I lose that job? Then I’d really be up the creek because that’s the bulk of my income. Where am I going at 65 years old? I dont like to sound discriminatory, but whos egoing to hire a white male at age 65?”

If the worst happened, Tetto imagines he’d work three part-time jobs. Perhaps hed become a"Welcome to Walmart person,” he said, and stock shelves and pump gas.

Still, he’d resist taking Social Security early.

“I’d lose too much money. I’ve got to wait another year to collect it,” he said. “Even with that, we still have to pay tuition for our son.”

Tetto is far from alone in his struggles.

Americans are resisting taking Social Security early. The average age of men and women taking Social Security has actually risen in the past few years. For men, it was 63.9 in 2010 and 64.1 in 2012. For women, it was 63.7 in 2010 and 63.9 in 2012.

Also, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 8.1 million Americans were employed part-time last month for “economic reasons,” that is, because of unfavorable business conditions, an inability to find full-time work, or a seasonal decline in demand.

Retraining is a MUCH-DISCUSSED option, even for older workers. A local On-The-Job Training Program has placed 212 retrained individuals in full-time jobs since July 2010, according to Donna Buchanan, director of Morris/Sussex/Warren Employment and Training Services, which administers the program.

“It enables employers to hire new employees,” Buchanan said, and then TRAIN THEM at their place of business while being reimbursed 50 percent of an applicant’s hourly wage up to a maximum of $4,000.

The program, funded through the Federal Workforce Investment Act, pre-screens applicants with experience and transferable skills.

“Retraining is a viable option for older workers who enjoy good health,” according to Frederick Englander, an economics professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University. It helps them address a key issue - obsolete skills in an age of rapidly changing technologies.

But, he hastened to add, that doesn’t make it easy.

“I’m not saying retraining is impossible over 55, but it becomes much more formidable,” Englander said. “As one gets older, especially in the late fifties and early sixties, one tends to have less ability to absorb new skills.”

“Plus, elder workers may not stay in a job till they’re 75,” the professor said, adding that “the expense of training, then, may not lead to a long period of reward for either employer or employee.”

In Englander’s view, there’s no jobs solution just for workers 50 and older or just for workers of any particular age group.

“The REAL PROBLEM here is the overall economy,” said the 66-year-old Englander. “It’s not just the workers of my age that are at risk here. To be honest, I’m more concerned about all these workers who have graduated college in the last five to six years. Because of the very weak economy, they haven’t been able to get the kind of start in the labor market that they have every right to expect.”

“An improved economy will be a tide that lifts workers of all ages in all their proverbial boats.” In the meantime, he said, “bailing water from one groups boat means only that more will seep into the boats of others.”

“These are problems that will not go away,” Englander said. “As time goes on, were going to be more and more stressed about them.”

Tetto remains optimistic not for himself but for his son, who is going for a specialized degree in athletic training at Rowan University. He sees that as a field with a future.

“I’ll be pumping gas till Im 75,” Tetto said. “I see happiness in my life with my family. I love them very much. But I don’t see a silver lining otherwise. I don’t even play the lottery. To me, it’s a waste of money. I JUST SEE myself working till I die.”

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Posted by Elvis on 11/29/13 •
Section Dying America
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Thursday, November 28, 2013

Jail, Gentrification, Wall Street and You

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How Wall Street Turned America Into Incarceration Nation
Transforming poorer neighborhoods into desirable real estate for the new elites often requires getting rid of the poor: jail becomes the new home for many.

By Les Leopold
Alternet
November 25, 2013

The U.S. leads the world in prisoners with 2.27 MILLION IN JAIL AND MORE THAN 4.8 MILLION ON PAROLE. Minorities have been especially hard hit, forming 39.4% OF THE PRISION POPULATION, with one in three black men expected to serve time during their lifetimes.

How is it that our land, supposedly the beacon of freedom and democracy for the rest of the world, puts so many of its own people into prison?

We usually attribute the prisoner increase to a combination of overt racism and Nixon’s war on drugs, followed by Rockefeller’s “three strikes” legislation in NEW YORK, and then the 1984 Sentencing Reform Act with its mandatory sentences. While racism and these laws certainly provide ample opportunity to incarcerate millions for violating senseless prohibition laws, they do not tell the whole story.

Racism was just as virulent, if not more so, long before the dramatic rise in prisoners set in during the 1980s and 1990s. Just because there are draconian laws on the books, it doesn’t explain why they are so dutifully enforced. It also doesn’t explain why so many are willing to risk prison, knowing the increasing odds of getting caught. 

If we dig deeper, we’ll see that the rise in incarceration corresponds with the rise of financialization and the dramatic increase in Wall Street incomes. Of course, just because trend lines on charts rise and fall together doesn’t mean one causes the other. But this correspondence is much more than coincidence.

In fact, we could show you a dozen other trends lines about financialization, wealth and the rising incomes of America’s elites that follow the same patterns over similar years as the incarceration rate. What is the connection?

‘Unleashing’ Wall Street destroys manufacturing, older urban areas and black America’s upward mobility

By the end of the 1970s, our policy establishment embarked upon a new experiment to shock the nation out of stagflation (the crushing combination of high unemployment and high inflation). To do so, neo-liberal economists successfully argued that Wall Street should be deregulated and that taxes on the wealthy should be cut to spur new entrepreneurial activity that would enrich us all.

Entrepreneurial activity certainly increased, and with a vengeance. Rather than create new jobs and industries that would promote shared prosperity, a new and invigorated Wall Street set about to devastate American manufacturing. Its goal was, and still is, to make money from money, not to make money by producing tangible goods and services. Wall Street’s main product for America is debt. And its profits derive from loading up the country with it, and then collecting compound interest.

Wave after wave of financial corporate raiders (now politely called private equity firms) swooped in to suck the cash flow out of healthy manufacturing facilities. Wall Street, freed from its New Deal shackles, loaded companies up with debt, cut R&D, raided pension funds, slashed wages and benefits, and decimated well-paying jobs in the U.S. while shipping many abroad. The released cash flow was used to pay back the financiers, buy up stock to drive up its price, and pay out dividends. Nearly half the raided companies failed as America’s heartland in a few short years turned into the Rust Belt.

But Wall Street prospered as its profits rose to account for nearly 40% of all corporate profits by 2003, up from less than 10 percent in 1982 (It would take more space than we have here to explain why this had little to do with “unfair” foreign competition. We could also show that so called free-trade agreements were designed by financiers to promote their interests, not ours.)

The catastrophic collapse in manufacturing jobs was particularly tragic for black Americans who during the first two decades after WWII had seen their standard of living rise as they entered higher paying industries. As the Wall Street vultures sucked the life out of these industries, black Americans found themselves in dying urban areas where the next best jobs paid less than half what manufacturing once paid. If lucky, young minority men and women could find work in the public sector which still was unionized. More typically, scarce jobs might be found in fast-food chains, box stores, warehouses, and in the lower ranks of the healthcare system. Overall, however, unemployment rates soared, especially for minority youth. Participation in the underground economy often became the only means of survival.

Financialization, gentrification and the removal of low-income residents

Not only does financialization destroy middle-income manufacturing jobs in urban areas, but the process also removes low-income neighborhoods through gentrification. The rise of high-income financiers (and the desire of banks to loan more money to them) creates upward pressure on housing prices in urban areas that cater to elites, like NEW YORK, Chicago and San Francisco. As land values rise rapidly, lower-income residents are squeezed out of their neighborhoods, which are revamped into fashionable townhouses and apartments for the wealthy. (Typically, the children of the well-to-do unconsciously serve as forward troops as they flock into lower-income areas in major cities, seeking to support themselves as artists and young professionals.)

As hundreds of neighborhoods are transformed, higher income residents require more protection from the alternative low-income economy, called “crime in the streets.” As mayors cater to these new elites, police patrols increase and incarceration rises through “stop and frisk” programs which invariably target minorities. 

Simply put, for financial interests to transform poorer neighborhoods into desirable real estate for the new elites, it is necessary to get rid of the poor. Jail becomes the new home for many.

The housing bubble and bust further destroyed lower income neighborhoods and decent-paying public sector jobs. Not only did financial interests feast upon productive firms, but they thrived on consumer debt (yet another chart that mirrors the incarceration rate).

The housing bubble, which was entirely engineered by Wall Street, created enormous demand for junk mortgages to package into securities which then turned toxic. When the bubble burst, the biggest losers were lower-income homeowners who thought they had finally gotten a piece of the American dream. With declining housing prices they found themselves underwater and/or living in neighborhoods with hundreds of abandoned homes. Their debts, remained, while, as we all know, the richest of the rich were bailed out. 

Because of the Wall Street crash, revenue-starved urban areas in the Rust Belt were hit once again. With unemployment higher than anytime since the Great Depression, business and worker tax revenues fell, leading to cuts in public employee jobs and benefitsthe very jobs middle-income minorities were fortunate to find as manufacturing declined over the previous decades. 

Detroit became the poster child for the ravages brought about by financialization. First corporate raiders and private equity firms squeezed the life out of manufacturing all over Michigan. Then the Wall Street crash destroyed more jobs and undermined the tax base, leading to urban bankruptcy and more job loss in the public sector. 

Wall Street’s Jobs Program: Incarceration

What will happen to all those unemployed, given the massive shortfall in jobs? What will happen to those trapped in neighborhoods crammed with foreclosed homes? Where is the jobs program for the millions who need it?

High finance has the answer that is now the de-facto government policyחput the dislocated, the unemployed, the “surplus” youth in jail.

That’s because financial interests and their crony politicians have no interest at all in traditional jobs programs that could put millions of young people to work. Instead, they are doing all they can to bring austerity policies to America. The less government spends on public services and safety net programs, the more money it has to support Wall Street. As government services are cut, state and local governments must turn even more to Wall Street in order to finance infrastructure projects (where the total cost including interest payments is usually several times the initial costs of construction).

Wall Street’s super-profits can only continue if public and consumer funds are transferred to high finance via interest payments on loans. So public jobs programs are out of the question, and both parties have been “convinced” (with campaign contributions) that we can’t afford them.

So that leaves us with one and only one jobs program - incarceration - which is also a growth opportunity for Wall Street. As public revenues falter, pressure will mount to privatize more and more correctional facilities and law enforcement functions, opening up lucrative opportunities for more privatization and more Wall Street loans to make it happen.

So by all means, let’s legalize drugs, get rid of mandatory sentencing and prohibit “stop and frisk.” But until we tackle financialization and its destruction of neighborhoods and jobs, we will channel another generation into the underground economy - and into jail.

These four graphs tell the tale visually:

1. The soaring American prison population since 1920:

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2. Where the money is going: financial sector vs. non-financial sector yearly compensation:

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3. The total collapse of manufacturing jobs in America since 1960:

2013-11-26-img3.png

4. Unemployment levels since 2007:

2013-11-26-img4.png

5. The staggering rise of household debt—home mortgages and credit debt: 

2013-11-26-img5.png

Les Leopold is the director of the Labor Institute in New York. His latest book is How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour: Why Hedge Funds Get Away with Siphoning off America’s Wealth (Wiley 2013).

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Posted by Elvis on 11/28/13 •
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Sunday, November 24, 2013

Eminent Domain To Reduce Mortages

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More Cities Consider Using Eminent Domain to Halt Foreclosures

By Shaila Dewan
NY Times
November 15, 2013

New cities are joining the effort to head off home foreclosures by using a twist on the power of eminent domain, despite threats of financial retaliation from Wall Street and Washington.

On Saturday, Mayor Wayne Smith of Irvington, N.J., will announce that his mostly working-class city is proceeding with a legal study of the plan. Irvington could try to head off legal action and repercussions through what are called “friendly condemnations,” in which “incentives are used to persuade the owner to drop any objections,” he said. “We figure if this program works it can help anywhere from 500 to 1,000 homes.”

This summer the similarly working-class city of Richmond, Calif., in a heavily industrial part of the San Francisco Bay Area, became the first to identify homes worth far less than their owners owe, and offer to buy not the houses themselves, but the mortgages. The city intends to reduce the debt on those mortgages, saying that will prevent foreclosure, blight and falling property values. If the owners of the mortgages mostly banks and investors balk, the letters said, the city could use eminent domain to condemn and buy them.

Since then, intense pressure from Wall Street and real estate interests, including warnings that mortgages will become difficult or impossible for Richmond residents to get, has whittled away support for the plan. The city has yet to actually use its power of eminent domain, but it is already fighting two lawsuits filed in federal courts.

Still, cities hard hit by the housing crash are showing interest. Yonkers, just north of New York City, will soon take up a resolution to study the use of eminent domain to reduce debt, and support is building in Newark as well. In California, Pomona and Oakland are considering it as well. .

“Things seem to be picking up steam in Minnesota, and I’ve just been contacted in the past couple of weeks by two cities in Pennsylvania as well,” said Robert Hockett, a Cornell University law professor and one of the architects of the strategy. Nationally, housing prices have begun to recover, but about one in five homeowners still owes more than the home is worth, and in cities like Richmond as many as half do.

Several local governments that have considered the plan eventually backed away, including San Bernardino County and North Las Vegas. But, Mr. Hockett said, “We’re moving into a kind of second generation of municipal interest that is more hard core - it’s interest with a spine, so to speak.”

The cities are all still in the early stages of considering the plan.

In New Jersey, the American Civil Liberties Union has also joined the effort, saying that opponents are using threats to keep cities from exercising their legal right to employ eminent domain.

Opponents of the strategy, including the institutional investors BlackRock and Pimco, Wells Fargo and the Mortgage Bankers Association, say that taking mortgages by eminent domain is a breach of individual rights and that investors will not receive fair market value for the mortgages. In Richmond, Mayor Gayle McLaughlin has asked investors to come to the table to work out a price, but they have so far declined to negotiate.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac and controls most mortgages in the country, has said that the eminent domain strategy is a clear threat to the safe and sound operations of Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the Federal Home Loan BanksӔ and that it may take legal action against cities that use it or limit mortgage activity there. In Congress, a housing finance bill by Jeb Hensarling, a Texas Republican and chairman of the Committee on Financial Services, would effectively end mortgage financing in cities that used eminent domain.

On Friday, letters signed by 10 Democratic members of Congress were expected to be sent to Edward J. DeMarco, the acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, and Shaun Donovan, secretary of housing and urban development, saying that any policies that restrict mortgage lending in areas that use eminent domain would violate anti-discrimination laws.

“We writeto express our disappointment that the Federal Housing Finance Agency is actively supporting and threatening legal action against communities which consider exercising their legal rights to use eminent domain to help struggling homeowners,” the letter to Mr. DeMarco said.

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Posted by Elvis on 11/24/13 •
Section American Solidarity
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Thanksgiving 2013

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The mystery of human existence lies not in just staying alive, but in finding something to live for.
- Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Pray that your loneliness may spur you into finding something to live for, great enough to die for.
- Dag Hammarskjold

Choosing to stop, or change your degree of, participation in long-time family or friends traditions is hard. But, as a person looking for a job, you have the best excuse, actually a sound reason, to beg off of holiday events: “You can’t afford it. You don’t have the resources - the money, time, or energy - to participate this year - that’s it!”
- Holiday Traditions and Your Job Search

Another THANKSGIVING is coming this week.

For another year despondency, bitterness, anger, guilt, shame, and self-hatred carved deeper gouges in my heart.

ESPECIALLY ABOUT MY DYING MOTHER who I can’t afford to visit - and even if I could scrape up the money to fly up and see her like I used to - am in no emotional shape to take care of.

The inner pain of everything negative from my failed job hunt and loosing hope has built to a point that instead of committing SUICIDE - I just about shut down inside. 

Sort of.

The Salvation Army people are out for the holidays with their donation buckets.

After my last good job went away, I STOPPED BUYING A BICYCLE FOR A POOR KID each Christmas and I’d walk past the SALVATION ARMY BELL RINGERS without making eye contact, or a donation.  Today, living off cheap, DISPOSABLE temp jobs - I put a dollar in the pail each time I walk by.  Not because I’m not afraid of the future - I’m more frightened than ever - it’s something else.  Denial maybe? 

Maybe these acts of charity are SELFISH cause it gives me some dignity inside, or maybe SELFLESS from EMPATHY feeling the pain of those worse off than me? Maybe I’m looking for attention like those that slit their wrists but never succeed. 

HUMPTY DUMPTY is a story of DEPRESSION.

Do you think something can happen to ole Humpty to get him back to the way he was before falling off the wall?

Maybe some of us are like WEEBLES - we wobble but don’t fall down.

Maybe.

Maybe the scars are too deep.

Isn’t it times like this the Holy Spirit is supposed to WALK IN and THE LORD SHINE HIS LIGHT?

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Long-Term Unemployment and Mental Health

By Mental Health Psychology Info
November 11, 2011

There is more lost than a paycheck when a person experiences extended periods of unemployment, according to recent research. When adults with no previous mental health history experience their first instances of psychological distress when they become unemployed, the distress is most likely to be the result rather than the cause of the job loss.

A Washington and Lee University study is slated for presentation to Congress some time this month. The studys findings will be part of a briefing given to Congress on the emotional impact that results from unemployment.

The Washington and Lee study revolved around those who, until a recent extended period of unemployment, had never before experienced clinically defined issues of mental health. Extended or long-term unemployment was defined as lasting greater than 25 weeks. The team contrasted the mental health of those who enjoyed uninterrupted employment with those who experienced a job loss lasting under 25 weeks and those who remain unemployed for more than 25 weeks.

The study revealed several interesting facts. First, a person who remained jobless for more than 25 weeks over the past year is three times more apt to experience mental health issues than is the person who had continual employment. This was true regardless of whether or not the person had ever been clinically diagnosed with mental health problems before. In other words, being unemployed for such an extended period was likely to initiate a person’s first ever exposure to clinically defined psychological distress. The potential for mental health problems was about the same for the person unemployed fewer than 25 weeks as it was for the person who was fully employed throughout.

Another contributing factor to whether a person undergoes psychological distress appears to be connected to their level of education. Those with higher levels of education were actually more at risk for mental distress than were those with less education. Researchers hypothesize that this may be due to the fact that more educated people feel a greater sense of control over their lives and when unemployment strikes, that sense of power is taken.

Also of note, this education-mental health connection appeared strongest among well-educated minorities. This could be because minorities are faced with formerly latent fears regarding job discrimination.

Depression and anxiety are common reactions to situations that make a person feel out of control such as long-term unemployment. Self-blame and worry about the future can become a struggle for people who have never before faced psychological struggles. Work provides people with a sense of purpose and its loss inherently impacts self-perception. Other bad news related to recessions: Marriage rates go down, divorce rates go up, and children of unemployed parents perform poorly and behave badly in school.

Like ripples from a pebble dropped in the water, losing a job reaches out and touches others parts of a persons life. The research indicates that a short-term job loss is mentally processed as another of the myriad ups and downs that make up life’s journey. On the other hand, long-term unemployment appears to wear down otherwise resilient people who, until now, had maintained a sense of power over their lives. Congress needs to hear the full-orbed impact of recessionary times. So much more than credit ratings get hurt when the economy refuses to repair.

SOURCE

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The Science Of Rejection: Helping The Long-Term Unemployed

Project aims to assist long-term unemployed
MIT professor launching effort to help them overcome barriers

By Megan Woolhouse
The Boston Globe
November 17, 2013

More than four years after the last recession ended, long-term unemployment remains near record levels, with 4.1 million Americans out of work for more than six months and still struggling to find jobs. What makes the problem so vexing, Sharone said, is these workers, typically older, have qualifications that should provide the path to employment, namely experience, accomplishment, and college degrees.

You can’t just say go get an education because these people are often educated. he said. “It’s scary because there’s not an obvious, easy solution.”

Sharone, however, is daring to try to find one. Later this month, he will launch a project called the Institute for Career Transitions, an organization to help the long-term unemployed, focusing on 40- to 65-year-old workers with college degrees. The institute will begin by pairing them with career counselors or job coaches, free of charge, for three months.

Sharone and his researchers will also try to build a better understanding of long-term unemployment and approaches that might help overcome its challenges and barriers. They will study the moods, health, and levels of depression among participants, examining how long-term unemployment and repeated disappointments - affect them, their motivation, and ability to get back to work.

“We need a nuanced interpretation of what it means to get rejected,” he said. “How does that affect your future, your job search, your sense of self, your life, your relationships?”

Among those working with Sharone is Rand Ghayad, a Northeastern University researcher and visiting scholar at the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, who has published groundbreaking work on long-term unemployment. Ghayad, who mailed 4,800 fictitious resumes and recorded employer response rates, concluded that companies frequently screen out applicants who are unemployed for more than six months.

Ghayad found that employers showed four times more interest in candidates unemployed for six months or less even if they had less experience and fewer qualifications than those experiencing longer bouts of joblessness. Older unemployed workers, he found, were most frequently passed over, viewed as having outdated skills or as being דdamaged goods.

“I believe workers aged 55 and older are not only suffering from unemployment discrimination, but also age discrimination, which is making it nearly impossible for them to find work in this sluggishly growing economy,” Ghayad said. “Long-term unemployment among older workers should be our priority as a nation.”

“Solving long-term unemployment would boost the nation’s economy, which is at risk of losing the potential, productive capacity, and spending power of millions of Americans,” Sharone and Ghayad said. “Many long-term unemployed ultimately drop out of the workforce, depleting retirement savings, collecting Social Security early, or turning to public assistance.”

Many also suffer debilitating depression, and in the worst cases become suicidal, feeling as if they have failed or no longer have value.

Sharone, 45, has studied long-term unemployment for more than a decade, an issue he came to unexpectedly. After graduating from Harvard Law School and working in the corporate world, he said he felt unfulfilled and returned to school at the University of California at Berkeley to study sociology, writing his doctoral dissertation on the experiences of unemployed technology workers after the dot-com bubble burst early in the last decade.

That crash left thousands of people out of work for several months and longer, despite skills, experience, and often advanced degrees.

Sharone said his research found that Americans tend to suffer greater discouragement related to long-term unemployment than do people in places like Israel, where Sharone was born and raised. In Israel, unemployed workers tend to blame the system, directing their anger at a rigid economy that can make it difficult to move between jobs.

Americans, however, often blame themselves. White-collar job searches put a heavy emphasis on networking with ones peers and on a candidateҒs chemistry with an employer, requiring prospective employees to establish rapport.

This means that when you are rejected for a job, it often feels like itӒs not your qualifications that have been rejected, its you, personally,Ҕ said Sharone, who recently published the book Flawed System/Flawed Self: Job Searching and Unemployment ExperiencesӔ based on interviews with more than 170 white-collar job seekers in the United States and Israel.

Sharone said the new institute, primarily funded through his MIT research budget, will begin randomly matching about 60 unemployed people with career counselors and coaches in the next two weeks. The research component will study three groups of unemployed: one getting one-on-one career counseling, another receiving counseling in a group setting, and finally, a control group that wont get any coaching.

The program has taken referrals from networking groups to find candidates for the study. But response among career counselors and coaches has been so great (nearly 40 offered their services for free) that Sharone said there is room for about 20 additional long-term job seekers who want help. More openings could be on the horizon.

Sharone said anyone interested should visit the organization’s new WEBSITE.

Amy Mazur, a Newton career counselor who usually charges $85 an hour, said she is donating her services to the project because she thinks the intervention could help many long-term unemployed. She said she also wants to be part of a larger discussion among career professionals on how they might address the problem and change employers views of the long-term unemployed.

“What are we doing about a situation where we have people with a lot to offer, people with skills and motivation? You can’t put them out to pasture,” she said. “You don"t want to and it’s not the best thing for the economy and society.”

Sharone said he hopes to hold a conference on long-term unemployment in May to release his initial findings. The research could reveal strategies to benefit job seekers, identifying ways to help them network and overcome obstacles such as an ignored resume.

“It could also lead to something bigger,” Sharone said, “such as a national group that recruits professional counselors to offer this kind of service. Right now, there are few services and institutions dedicated to helping the long-term unemployed, heightening the isolation they likely feel.”

“How to cope and remain resilient in the face of rejection is one of the key skills that unemployed job seekers need to develop,” he said. “This is also about how to find a job. But an important part of what I care about is how to deal with rejection in a way that’s not overly self blaming.”

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at megan.woolhouse at globe.com. Follow her on Twitter at megwoolhouse.

SOURCE

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Unemployment Is an “Ongoing Traumatic Stress Disorder”
How the Economic Crisis Affects Lives

By Leonard Fein
June 10, 2011

On a flight back from Israel several weeks ago, I had a brief conversation with my seatmate, an automotive parts salesman from London. We talked a bit about life in David Camerons England and then switched to Israel. That is when he startled me. I’d been describing how, within one 24-hour period, I’d heard the same words from a psychiatrist in Gaza and a social activist in Sderot, the city to which most of the rockets fired from Gaza have been aimed: “Everyone here,” they’d both said, “suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder.” To which my seatmates immediate response was, “Why post?”

Why, indeed? People in both places cannot know whether and when the next assault will take place - a flurry of rockets, a bomb from a high-flying drone, perhaps more than that. So why post?? The trauma continues; it is part of life in these places.

I’ve been mulling his wisdom lately, and it occurs to me that around the world, there are very many people, altogether too many, who suffer from what I - not a mental health professional - am inclined to call OTSD, ongoing traumatic stress disorder.

Take the 13.9 million unemployed people in the United States today; of these, more than 6 million have been out of work for six months or more. These numbers do not include the 8.5 million הinvoluntary part-time workers, people who are working part-time either because their hours have been cut back or because they have been unable to find full-time jobs. At some recent point, most of these 22.4 million people were “outplaced,” the current euphemism for “fired,” or were shifted from full-time to part-time work.

These are but numbers, although they benumb us, or should. They summarize real people who suffer the agony of joblessness, which is often accompanied by growing feelings of worthlessness - and, of course, shame and guilt for the inability to provide adequately for themselves and for those who depend on them. The National Institute of Mental Health, often cautious in its language, says that People may develop PTSD in reaction to events that may not qualify as traumatic but can be devastating life events like divorce or unemployment. For my part, I cannot imagine the feelings of helplessness these people suffer, nor the fears they experience as more and more states cut or propose to cut back on unemployment insurance payments and as more and more of them lose their homes to foreclosure.

My brother, in the 1950s a young professor teaching economics at the University of North Carolina, tells a story that illustrates the shame: Midway through the semester - it became clear to me that none of my students had any idea of the real economic costs and psychological impact of unemployment. And so I gave them an assignment to be completed over their Christmas holidays. I asked that they speak to their parents or grandparents, an older relative or family friend, and discuss the ways the Great Depression had affected their lives. The students would then writean essay summarizing those conversations.

I was not surprised that the essays revealed that few of the students had been aware of this chapter in their family history and that they found their newly gained understanding both emotionally and intellectually rewarding. But I was surprised at the number of parents and grandparents who wrote to me or who asked their offspring to tell me how much they appreciated the assignment and its context. For many of them, this was the first time they had felt comfortable in telling their story, a story they feared would be interpreted as reflecting a personal failure.

Shame? Trauma? This last April, there were 219,258 new foreclosure filings; of the $46 billion that Congress gave the Treasury Department to spend on keeping homeowners in their houses, a total of $1.85 billion has been spent. If youre unemployed - currently, the primary cause of foreclosure it’s often impossible to negotiate your way out, since some monthly payment is still required. Now: Instead of “foreclosed,” a relatively anodyne word, read “evicted.” And consider whether the experience of being evicted qualifies as a trauma, one that continues to cause pain as you awake each morning in the home of relatives or friends and set out again to find a job, knowing that there are roughly five unemployed people for every job that awaits and that very many prospective employers will not consider unemployed candidates.

And Congress? Republicans battle on for their proposed solution: Slash federal spending, cut corporate taxes, deregulate, extend the Bush tax cuts to the wealthiest Americans and allow the states to prematurely end benefits to the long-term unemployed - this although unemployment insurance is widely understood as one of the most effective means of increasing demand in a sluggish economy. Yes, our country has a long-term deficit problem. But the effort to “solve” that problem while ignoring the immediate jobs deficit problem is perverse.

There is no therapeutic model for dealing with such things. But perhaps we might learn from my brother’s experience, and seek out and get to know one person, one family, currently experiencing the trauma of joblessness.

SOURCE

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Lost Income, Lost Friends and Loss of Self-respect

By Rich Morin and Rakesh Kochhar
Pew Research
July 22, 2010

Long-term unemployment takes a much deeper toll than short-term unemployment on a person’s finances, emotional well-being and career prospects, according to a new Pew Research Center survey that explores the attitudes and experiences of workers who have lost jobs during the Great Recession.

Of those who have experienced an unemployment spell of at least six months, more than four-in-ten (44%) report that the recession has caused major changes in their lives. By comparison, fewer than a third (31%) of those who had been unemployed less than six months and 20% of adults who were not unemployed during the recession say they were similarly affected.

To measure the impact of unemployment during the Great Recession, the Pew Research Center interviewed 810 adults ages 18 to 641 who are currently unemployed or who were jobless sometime since the recession officially began in December 2007. They were part of a nationally representative survey of 2,967 adults conducted May 11-31, 2010.

Pew Center researchers also analyzed recent employment data to create a demographic portrait of the long-term unemployed.2 According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median duration of unemployment stood at 25.5 weeks in June 2010, meaning half of the unemployed the largest proportion since World War II - have been looking for work for six months or more. The previous high, in May 1983, was 12.3 weeks, less than half the level today. The Centers demographic analysis finds that the median duration is highest among older workers, blue-collar workers and black workers. However, all workers, regardless of race or ethnicity, age, gender, nativity or occupation, have experienced a sharp increase in long-term unemployment during the recession.

Together, the survey and analysis of employment data documenthow a prolonged period of joblessness can strain household budgets, test personal relationships, force changes in career plans and erode self- confidence. Key findings include:

Family finances: A majority of the long- term unemployed (56%) say their family income has declined during the recession, compared with 42% who were out of work less than three months and 26% of adults who have not been unemployed since the recession began in December 2007. Overall, the long-term unemployed are also more likely to say they are in worse shape financially now than before the recession.

Impact on relationships: Nearly half (46%) of those unemployed six months or more say joblessness has strained family relations, compared with 39% of those who were out of work for less than three months. At the same time, more than four- in-ten (43%) long-term unemployed say they lost contact with close friends

Loss of self-respect: Nearly four- in-ten (38%) long-term unemployed report they have lost some self-respect while out of work, compared with 29% who were jobless for shorter periods of time. The long-term unemployed also are significantly more likely to say they sought professional help for depression or other emotional issues while out of work (24% vs. 10% for those unemployed less than three months).

Impact on career goals: More than four-in-ten (43%) of the long-term unemployed say the recession will have a ғbig impact on their ability to achieve their long-term career goals. Among those unemployed less than three months, 28% said being jobless would have a similarly serious impact.

Am I in the right job? More than seven-in-ten long-term unemployed say they changed their careers or job fields or seriously thought about doing so. They also were more likely to pursue job retraining programs or other educational opportunities while out of work.

Settling for less: Among workers who found a job after being unemployed for six months or longer, about three-in-ten (29%) say their new job is worse than the one they lost, compared with only 16% of re-employed workers who had been jobless for less than six months. In separate questions, these workers also report their new job paid less and had worse benefits than their old one.

Pessimism on the job hunt: Among adults who are currently unemployed, those who have been jobless for six months or longer are significantly more pessimistic than the short-term unemployed about their chances of finding a job as good as the one they lost.

While the long-term unemployed have suffered the most during the Great Recession, the survey found that shorter spells of unemployment also have been painful for many Americans and their families.

The remainder of this report examines in more detail how the unemployed - particularly the long-term unemployed - have fared during the Great Recession. Chapter 1 offer a demographic profile of the long-term unemployed. The report then examines the problems encountered by those who have been unemployed during the recession and the larger hardships faced by the long-term unemployed. The final chapter examines how long-term unemployment affects workers even after they find another job and the attitudes of the currently unemployed.

Read the FULL REPORT for more details.

SOURCE

Posted by Elvis on 11/24/13 •
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