Article 43

 

Friday, March 02, 2012

The Truth About Long-Term Unemployment In America

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By Abby Rogers, Gus Lubin and Vivian Giang
Business Insider
February 17, 2012

Most people don’t understand HOW SOMEONE COULD FAIL TO FIND A JOB for OVER A YEAR unless he was LAZY or somehow DEFECTIVE.

This stigma means that finding a job becomes harder every day that a person has been unemployed.

Nearly four million Americans have been unemployed for over a year. Millions more are not counted because they have GIVEN UP looking for work, have opted for retirement, or have taken a part-time job.

We interviewed some of the long-term unemployed to see what they’ve been doing for the past year. Every one of them is just as shocked as you that unemployment could last this long.

Pamela Vernocchi has been unemployed since September, 2008

In the last four years, Vernocchi has been on 30 job interviews and submitted around 4,000 resumes.

She’s still unemployed.

“Back in the day, I had to turn down jobs,” she said. “Things have changed. So many people are applying that they can be particular now.”

To support herself, Vernocchi picks up whatever jobs she can - walking dogs, taking care of cats - because recruiters tell her she’s “overqualified.” When things were good, she worked at some well-known firms in New York’s Financial District, including Lehman Brothers, yet no one will hire her now because she isn’t as young as the new college graduates.

“Im 54. I don’t look 54, but I don’t look 24. When they ask questions, it’s obvious HOW OLD I am. A year ago, I was on an interview, and the guy said to me, “Why have you been out for so long?”

In 1977, Vernocchi got her first job as an assistant on Wall Street after a summer internship and received a bonus check that was as much as her annual salary.

“When you’re young, you’re near-sighted and that money keeps you,” she said.

In Feb. 2008, she lost her job when her firm was taken over by Stifel Financial Corp. A few months later, Vernocchi got another job as an operations assistant at a trading company. Within four months, that company went under as well and she’s been out of a job ever since.

“Everyone says you have to reinvent yourself,” she said. And a year later, Vernocchi did reinvent herself by attending classes for medical coding and billing, but that certificate didn’t lead to a job either.

When her monthly $1,620 unemployment benefits ran out in Sept. 2011, Vernocchi had to apply for welfare - she could no longer pay her monthly $1,500 rent in Brooklyn, N.Y.

“To be at this point and need to be dependent on the government now, it’s not the American dream,” she said. “And now that our benefits are over, they don’t even count us in the statistics. Now we become the burden on the individual states and cities.”

“I’ve worked all my life. Its disheartening, it really is. There’s no assistance for people who rent, who don’t own their apartments. The whole thing...it’s demeaning.”

The stress has physically taken a toll on Vernocchi. She admits to suffering from panic attacks because of her debt.

“A job is all I want,” she said. “We’re people that need to work. We’re not Republicans or Democrats. I want our country to get back on course.”

Vernocchi told us she’s been to several job fairs and it hasn’t worked for her yet. She is still applying online frequently and hoping to find a job in the non-profit sector.

Noel Pineda has been unemployed since 2009

When Pineda’s company decided to let go of 600 of its employees in the IT department, Pineda was included in that group. The single dad of two moved back to his hometown in Lake Tahoe between California and Nevada and found a job at a ski resort.

A year later, he was laid off again and has been unemployed ever since. Pineda, 42, has been on a couple of interviews, but most tell him he’s overqualified for the available positions.

“I always found it easy to find jobs, but about three months after you’re laid off, the pressure starts to build.”

When his unemployment money ran out, Pineda had to apply for food stamps and says getting assistance from the government has really affected his self-confidence.

“Sometimes after making sure the kids are off to school I find myself pacing back and forth feeling lost.  Feeling disoriented. It’s frustrating,” he said. “I stress more easily and I’m finding it more difficult to reason with my thoughts. My motivation is more relying on false hope that the next email or Google voice that I get is from a potential employer.”

Pineda hasn’t had cable in more than two years, which he says “isn’t that bad” and he’s downgraded from an iPhone to a $19 prepaid phone. He says he walks as much as he can and tries to only use a tank of gas every month. This past Christmas, Pineda was able to make some money off his coupon site to buy his kids Christmas presents.

But Pineda is optimistic and hopes the economy will eventually get better. With job prospects limited, he told us he is currently trying to create a business for himself.

John Schmidt has been unemployed since April, 2009

Schmidt can’t believe the government keeps sending him checks.

“It’s absolutely retarded, but I’m not going to turn it down.”

Schmidt has been unemployed since April, 2009 when he lost his job as a database architect at JC Penney. He says he was fired for health reasons.

In his first year of unemployment, Schmidt spent most of his time day trading.

“In all honesty I wasn’t looking real seriously. I got started in the stock market and was doing well with it, got rolling more and a little more and really that’s what I did for most of the first year. At the same time, I was still looking for a job, meeting the requirements for unemployment. But I wasn’t looking all over the country. I was looking for the perfect job.”

But Schmidt’s luck ran out around August 2010.

First his Countrywide mortgage was transferred to Bank of America, and a billing fiasco forced him to take money out of his trading account. Then he started losing money on the market. In less than a year, the bank had foreclosed on his house and Schmidt was forced to declare bankruptcy.

When Schmidt began to look seriously for jobs he was surprised at his difficulty.

“I’m one of the original people [in Hyperion Essbase software]. I never even thought about not getting a job. If I wanted a job I got it, period, for ten years,” he says. “Now I apply and I go on interviews and they say ‘you’re overqualified for this job’ ... or they say ‘you haven’t done anything for the past two years.’ I was blown away and amazed at how difficult it is for me to get a job. If you told me a year after getting laid off I would still be unemployed I would have said you’re nuts. Three years after is absolutely insane.”

Despite his own difficulties, Schmidt has little respect for most long-term unemployed or the system that for some inexplicable reason is still sending him unemployment checks after three years: “No wonder people aren’t getting jobs, they have no motivation.”

Veronica Orozco has been unemployed since June, 2007

Nearly five years gao, Orozco was working as a full-time civil engineer in Chicago when she had to go to the emergency room to get her gallbladder removed.

When she returned to work two weeks later, her employers told her business was slow and that they didn’t have any projects for her at the moment.

They told her to call back in two weeks and when she did, she received the same answer. During this time, she was paid a stipend, but not a full paycheck and was having a difficult time paying her bills. This happened for six months before Orozco decided to apply for unemployment.

Orozco, 30, has two young daughters and a husband who’s currently in school. She makes most the income in her family and needed to get back to work as quick as possible, so she sent out applications for any positions in any field, including Walmart postings. She quickly realized getting another job would be a lot more difficult than she thought.

“The problem is that people don’t want to hire people who are unemployed. And it’s definitely more who you know, not what you know,” Orozco said. “I have to hope that eventually I’ll be able to find work again.”

The family has had to cut out expenses such as cable or going to Whole Foods for their groceries. Orzoco is still actively applying for a job that will bring in a steady income and is planning on returning to school in the summer of 2012.

Judy Golden has been unemployed since 2008

Golden knows the only way she’s going to get her finances back on track is to “come up with some idea, some kind of business.”

The 60 year old lost her job as a recruiter for UTStarcom in 2008 and hasn’t had much luck finding other steady income since.

When she lost her job, Golden, who lives in San Francisco, wasn’t devastated because she didn’t think it would last for a long time. Although it was hard the first year, a lot of other people she knew had also lost their jobs and the technology industry just wasn’t hiring much. In the second year of unemployment, Golden realized that other people were getting rehired, but she wasn’t one of them.

“It became very clear to me when they started hiring other people, but not me, that companies wanted to have young people work for them,” Golden, who has both a Master’s and bachelors degrees, told us.

“I’ve lost a tremendous amount of confidence and that’s what happens when nobody wants to hire you. I interviewed twice with Google and they will not hire people who are unemployed. You’re put in an unwanted group.”

Since unemployment, Golden says she has acquired only two small jobs: Once when she received three months of work with the Census Bureau in 2010 and a seasonal job at Macy’s for four weeks in December 2011.

“When I got hired by Macy’s, I was actually shocked. It was a minimum-waged job, but I was so excited that someone said, ‘I want to hire you.’”

Golden says she’s not depressed, but things have been tough. She has learned how to be careful with her money and admits that most of her savings is gone. Golden says she procrastinates on filing her taxes every year because she’s “ashamed” of her finances.

She stopped actively applying for jobs at the end of last year.

Helen Hatat has been unemployed since 2009

Hatat, a Frenchwoman who moved to the United States many years ago, has lost her husband, her job and her home.

“I have nobody to help me because I have no family left,” she said.

She lost her job in public relationships in 2009 after more than 20 years of working in the entertainment industry, the Southern California resident said.

“When you don’t have a job, you don’t find a job, and when you don’t have a job, you don’t find a home,” she said.

At first she tried moving into a homeless shelter, but left because they treated her “like garbage.” Eventually she found a friend she could stay with, but this arrangement won’t last forever.

“I’ve found you lose most of your friends, you know. If you have money people love you. If you don’t have any money people hate you. They treat you like you are contagious.”

Hatat now rides her bicycle every day to the library to try and find a job. She also spends her days volunteering.

While she is open to anything at this point, she said there isn’t much available. She sends out hundreds of applications but maybe gets five interviews for all of that effort. Hatat went so far as to ask a company to hire her for two weeks without pay and then hire her full-time after that time period if they liked her work.

But so far, that strategy hasn’t helped.

“I have all the qualifications they are looking for so why don’t they hire me?” she asked. “I don’t get it. I am very discouraged now. I’m very tired too.”

Drew from Southern California has been unemployed since 2007

Hatat, a Frenchwoman who moved to the United States many years ago, has lost her husband, her job and her home.

“I have nobody to help me because I have no family left,” she said.

She lost her job in public relationships in 2009 after more than 20 years of working in the entertainment industry, the Southern California resident said.

“When you don’t have a job, you don’t find a job, and when you don’t have a job, you don’t find a home,” she said.

At first she tried moving into a homeless shelter, but left because they treated her “like garbage.” Eventually she found a friend she could stay with, but this arrangement won’t last forever.

“I’ve found you lose most of your friends, you know. If you have money people love you. If you don’t have any money people hate you. They treat you like you are contagious.”

Hatat now rides her bicycle every day to the library to try and find a job. She also spends her days volunteering.

While she is open to anything at this point, she said there isn’t much available. She sends out hundreds of applications but maybe gets five interviews for all of that effort. Hatat went so far as to ask a company to hire her for two weeks without pay and then hire her full-time after that time period if they liked her work.

But so far, that strategy hasn’t helped.

“I have all the qualifications they are looking for so why don’t they hire me?” she asked. “I don’t get it. I am very discouraged now. I’m very tired too.”

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THE TRUTH ABOUT LONG-TERM UNEMPLOYMENT IN AMERICA PART 2

Posted by Elvis on 03/02/12 •
Section Dealing with Layoff
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