Article 43

 

Monday, October 12, 2015

More Voices Of The Long-Term Unemployed

The invisible long-term unemployed

The VOICES OF THE UNEMPLOYED thread was getting to big.

So I started a new one here.

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From Hamilton Nolan:
Gawker
January 28, 2014

After a while, you drop out of everything. When friends and family decide to get together someplace you opt out. It’s too humiliating when you can’t afford a glass of soda. Besides, how many times can you listen to someone tell you there’s a job fair going on at some hotel conference room?

Even positive activities become points of criticism. You ran five miles? How much did that pay? You watched the game? Bet you made a lot of money doing that!

It’s nearly impossible to stay positive. Low level depression is a constant state. Regular rejection attacks your self image. You begin to doubt all the habits you built up to become successful, no matter how successful you were.

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Another from Gawker:

At any given moment you waver between giving up completely or absolutely losing your temper. Maintaining an even keel is exhausting.

You lose so much more than a job with extended unemployment. You feel like you lose the things that make us people. Not just money, a home, independence… you lose your value as a person.

When you finally come to the point where you realize you’ll take a minimum wage position you know that such a job won’t provide for any kind of life… you’ll be lucky to pay for transportation to get to and from work.

You can’t vent your frustration. If you do, you simply prove to others that you’re not worthy, you’re not trying, you don’t want a job, you’re a screw up, you’ve already decided you’re defeated.

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From another invisible, long-term unemployed American:

From the “Over Fifty And Out Of Work” BLOG:

August 17, 2015

I knew you were out there. Really probably millions of us unemployed or underemployed. I owned my own consulting firm doing evaluation of educational programs across the country for 14 very successful years. Then the divorce, then the stock market, then in 2011 the contracts dried up. Justifiably so. No educational system ever wants to be evaluated and having states in financial crises evaluation was one of the first things cut. So in 2011 my life began a radical change. I had been undergoing the change since 2008. I had a lovely home in Austin, TX. I was comfortable, great neighbors and friends, and expected to remain there. When the economy began changing I realized if I lost contracts I would not be able to make the mortgage payment.Heartbreak of selling the only home Id ever felt like was just mine alone. Into an apartment complex. Onto unemployment in Texas. Totally disoriented. IҒd never done this before. Sat in a huge room full of people my age and older all dressed for their trade or business. Suffered through the mandatory lectures of staff of the TX Wrkfrc Commission. I was panicked. I had not been without a job since I was 15 and lied to get my first work on a corn cutter in a processing plant. A dangerous job. A tedious job. But I was proud. In the course of the years from 2011-2013 I completed 701 applications. I had two responses. I keep them all in a closet and move them with me in case the state of TX, never known for its expeditious accounts management, should try to make a case I did not try to find work.

I believed I was being humbled for a reason; I had not shown enough gratitude when I had money; I had not shared my good fortunebut all these were untrue. I did, however, grow through meditation and yoga during this difficult time. I knew I needed to forgive myself for the failure that was not mine, but was systemic. I was raised on the philosophy that all work is good work. And I believe that still. My self-esteem bottomed out; I wandered around aimlessly; my anti-depressants were increased. Finally it came to me that all the energy I put into worrying and endless self-talk and monkey-mind was negative and would kill me. So I’ve adopted the |lily of the field” attitude and lifestyle the past 3 years. This lily had to move from Austin to Champaign, IL to be present in case my parents had needs. By seeing myself vividly as a lily in my mind I could see and feel myself blowing in the breeze. Sometimes the breeze was gentle and some small grace came my way. For example, I got a job paying 10/hr to teach children a specific reading methodology, and I helped clean an art professor (hoarders) house out for 15/hr cash each day, and I delivered a single flower to a statue where a man and his wife had met 25 years ago. I presented the yellow rose while the bag piper played in the rain. Each of these brief jobs I viewed as blessings. They kept me going. I was swaying still but upright. This summer I have had no work and I am living off the small savings I have. I will hopefully be substitute teaching when school begins. I have a very small writing contract, I auditioned yesterday as a Simulated Patient for the Med School. I am trying to piece my life together. I ask that you set an intention or pray for me that I will get a call on August 18 from the medical school that I have been chosen. Its only a once in a while job, but it’s something.

Like you I am endlessly restless, bored, unable to concentrate even though this would be the time to catch up on two years of back issues of New Yorkers.

In the 60s and 70s so many of us rose up. We stood and fought for civil rights and human rights. We knew the song “Street Fighting Man” by heart because we were constantly engaged in activism and protest against the war in Vietnam; many of us have continued in activist rolls for causes. We are the generation that knows how to stand and fight and protest in the streets. And how to get results. We know if takes personal sacrifices. I am confounded that our generation is not now engaged in activism around age discrimination, cuts in hours while younger colleagues remain full time, the perception that we have all slid from middle class into poverty because we haven’t worked “hard enough.” I’ve slid into a classless society. I talk every day to those with far less than me. I have food, shelter, insurance, and can still make co-pays for my meds. But as you all know every day we feel like there is an axe over our heads. We had money and lost money. Or, we didn’t save enough when we did have it. Or, we never had it. Now here we are. All in the same boat.

When I finally understood that “Senior” now begins at age 50 I was pissed as hell and still am. I am not ready to go gently into that night. I agree with many of you that we must become a presence. Perhaps our mantra are those words, “The Forgotten.” Let others ask what we are about. Form a loose coalition. I feel so fortunate to have discovered the article that brought yall to my attention. I am not one who has been interviewed, but I too am among “The Forgotten.” We perhaps need to take a look back from an historical perspective at where we came from. How were we organized in those days of demand for civil rights, or an end to the war? How have we continued to be cogs in the wheels of activism? What were the strategies then and could the most successful of those strategies become a springboard for a new need to organize as a political force? Now is our time to take what we learned and apply it to the crisis confronting millions of us. Now is our time to become highly focused, strategic, and to agree that we may not come to consensus, but it is a need so large we will agree never to sabotage. There is a place and tasks for each of us. I do truly believe one person can make change. I am thinking of the woman who walks endlessly back and forth across the country as a Peace Pilgrim. She lives like a lily of the field. She depends upon the ԓkindness of strangers. Wherever she stops she engages others in discussions about the need for peace, how it might come about, and what their role could be.

I know us. We are the generation that has been forced into an untenable place in society. I don’t know about the rest of you but I want out. I am only 64. I am not ready to be retired. We may feel like The Forgotten but we cannot let that word define us. We must become highly visible. We have endless talents, endless problem solvers and out of the box thinkers among us. I refuse to be among “The Disappeared.” The expression for those who go missing in the endless struggles and battles between cartels and corrupt governments. I do not know how to maintain contact with this group but I would like to continue to read your thoughts, consider possibilities, and move forward. Is “Over Fifty and Out of Work” an accessible website? I don’t feel so alone today. Namaste.

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From the NY POST October 10, 2015

Battered bull

The situation for high-flying Wall Street bulls is not much better.

John, 55, says hes a victim of Washington’s over regulation of Wall Street.

Until two years ago, John was a senior executive at a major regulatory firm in the metro area, earning $100,000 base compensation (plus bonus and expenses) and traveling the globe. After the Dodd-Frank Act passed in the wake of the financial crisis, his firm shifted gears in anticipation of new requirements for heightened regulation of hedge funds.

John was the presumptive candidate for a new job and with his masters degree, multilingual fluency and extensive connections in law circles, he never saw the ax coming.

His new assignment never came, and the firm downsized him, hiring two 20-somethings for half his salary.

Since he was pink-slipped in 2013, John hasn’t re-entered the workforce. I don’t think I will ever find the kind of work and salary I once enjoyed, he told The Post.

His job searches are not only confined to financial services. He’s applied for low-paid associate jobs at Costco, Lowes and Home Depot - to no avail.

“I have so many friends like me that just gave up looking for gainful employment,” he said.

Redacted editor

The experience of Amy Hayden should be an eye-opener for anyone working today fearing tomorrow.

Hayden, 42, has two masters degrees and a background as a publicity manager and a high-ranking career in journalism, but she has not had a long-term job since 2009.

That’s despite her distinguished credentials as a top-notch editor for the Sun-Times Group in Chicago, where, she said, she earned $70,000 a year plus benefits back in 2001.

“I’ve found it nearly impossible to find stable employment,” said Hayden, who sleeps at night on a couch in a friend’s apartment in Chelsea. “I get food stamps, which help, but I don’t qualify for cash assistance. Next month I will rent a clean room somewhere in the city and live out of there for $125 a week,” she said.

“I moved to NYC [from Chicago] in 2012, thinking things would be better for me here and in a sense they have been. There are more jobs to apply for, and a lot more freelance work and day labor and side jobs.”

“But in a way its a lot more difficult,” she said, “because there’s only so long I can keep trying to get a job in the field Ive worked in for 18 years.”

When I interview at startups, I’m explicitly discriminated against as a woman Hayden asserted.

Paying sitterԒs salary

Lea (Lenore) Geronimo, 44, of Elmhurst, Queens, lost her job in January 2014 as an executive assistant at a Wall Street firm, following a post-merger shake-up.

Her job search is not working, despite her valiant attempts.

I called my headhunter, saying, ӑI want part-time work so I can take care of my new baby, Ҕ said Geronimo, a single mom with an 8-month-old son.

But there was no way I could take what was available out there ӗ retail jobs paying $10 an hour because thatגs what I also have to pay my baby sitter when Id be working in retail.Ҕ

PR problems

Judy Segaloff was laid off in a corporate reorganization in 2008.

Working in Connecticut, she was the public relations manager for a major retail chain, earning $120,000 annually, and at the top of her high-pressure game.

But after Segaloff, whos in her 50s, relocated from Scarsdale to Detroit to join her new husband, she hasn’t had a company job since 2008.

It is really hard for me to make a re-entry into the workforce, despite all my experience. I am good at social media, I know how to market, I am a great writer, and I have experience in design and editing programs,” she said. “It is very frustrating.”

“I used to charge $150 an hour at my own firm,” she recalled. When Segaloff recently offered to handle publicity for some groups, she was rebuffed: They complained her $30 hourly rate was too high.

Transferred

Lou had some 15 years as a legal transcriber in a small Manhattan agency, making about $30,000 for a small firm that offered minimal benefits.

That was enough, though, thanks to his rent-controlled apartment in Greenwich Village.

But about five years ago, the agency started having problems, and Lou was out.

With no job, Lou ran through his savings. He broke into his 401(k) plan and exhausted it.

Now in his early 60s, Lou is taking early Social Security. Although he had been employed through most of his adult life, Lou feels overwhelmed and is considering going on welfare.

Laid-off librarian

Sally, 51, has a masters degree as a library media specialist.

“But since most schools usually employ just one librarian, it’s a tough gig to get and keep.”

I have posted my info on the NYC New Teacher Finder [site] and met with the head of library services and had maybe five interviews at schools.

“Most of these schools were more than an hour commute each way for me (not that it matters; if it were a good job I wouldnt mind the commute), but the schools were also not the best-performing ones. Every time I thought my interview went well and I thought the school, the principal and I would be a good fit, I was wrong!”

“It is disappointing to send out resum after resume and have interview after interview year after year and be a smart, eager, adaptable person willing to work, yet not get a job.”

“I was in the process of reinventing myself and then decided to give up!” Sally concluded.

Posted by Elvis on 10/12/15 •
Section Dying America
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