Monday, September 14, 2009

Faces of Unemployment - the PTO version

For some reason the current unemployment crisis fascinates me. I don't like hiring or recruiting people (I'm not a good salesperson) so that isn't it. I think I like to watch a train wreck occasionally and as a whole the unemployment situation in America is like a giant train wreck.

Deeper down of course I actually happen to know quite a number of unemployed or underemployed folks and my heart aches for them. I want to wave a wand and fix it. As someone who deals with layoffs all day long it's draining to listen to story after story of people who have worked hard and just want a job. Any job.

Which is why I get so emotional about the ARRA. I cried when I read about how that would affect COBRA for severanced people. And I wasn't even pregnant. Yet. When we talk about National Health care or Health care reform I have a number of ideas. And I'm passionate about it. Because I see first hand every day what happens to people who are under-insured or lack insurance entirely. I talk to people who need an affordable option. I don't pretend to have all the answers. I just know that stuff needs to change.

But this blog isn't actually political. It's just about the unemployment that I see on a daily basis.

Not too long ago at an official PTO function (okay, a BBQ in my back yard) the PTO ladies and I started talking about work stuff. Not PTO work but our own jobs. It struck me that each and every one of us is staring deep into the face of unemployment in one way or another.

D is a Cosmetologist by trade. She owns her own business and was doing pretty well, keeping busy almost 7 days a week at her shop. Until last fall. Now she's struggling. She lives with her mother and young daughter. Her mother was laid off 8 months ago and hasn't been able to find anything else. She doesn't receive child support for her daughter and her business has dropped to almost a quarter of what it was. They are desperately trying to refinance their home but the bank has been dragging it's feet and every month her income stretches shorter and shorter. If the bank doesn't refinance and she doesn't get another job she is in danger of losing their home in just a matter of months.

H is a IT person for lab machinery at a large hospital here in Colorado. The health care crisis is scary because she's afraid if national health care comes to pass that reimbursement rates will be like those with Medicare. Medicare doesn't reimburse nearly the cost of the tests that some patients need to have run. If that happens then income will fall drastically. No new equipment will be bought due to lack of funds and therefore there wont be a need for as many techs. Her husband is also a mechanic and he has seen his hours cut as less people come to the shop for regular maintenance in a bid to save a few dollars. Less customers = less people needed = layoffs. While he hasn't been there yet, they are afraid for what the next few months will mean.

B was working part time at Wal-mart after her husband lost of job and couldn't find another one. Her hours were constantly changing and it seemed that she worked just enough hours not to be able to get insurance for the children but enough to be exhausted at the end of the week. Her husband looked for a job for almost a year before finally finding one (as a police officer) in a city 2 hours from here. Now she has to try and sell their home in a zip code that has the highest foreclosure rate in Colorado. Not much is moving around here lately.

C works for the local school district. She has seen wage freezes and hiring freezes that double her workload without any additional compensation. She is afraid that soon the district will eliminate her position entirely due to lack of funds. Her husband works with conference set up, cables, lighting etc. There has been a steady drop of local need for that line of work so he has seen his need to travel increase dramatically to stay employed, something that keeps him from his wife and children for weeks at a time.

E is the Executive Assistance for a large technology firm. Technology just isn't' moving like it used to and her fear is that they will start laying off people like support staff and her department. She's already had to assist with layoffs this year of her friends and co-workers and is already looking at tweaking her resume.

Me. I actually don't think my job is in danger right now. But I work for a large telecommunications company. And they have already started outsourcing part of a close departments job for the 2010 year. Those people are terrified right now. And they probably should be. What job will they do if we've outsourced it? I also handle severance and layoffs every single day and I know that there is nothing to suggest you are secure where you are at.

The faces of unemployment. In my backyard. Telling the story of America. Kinda of scary.



Hey Lace,

Timely post. And it makes me very grateful on nights like these when Eric is pulling a 12 hour shift that at least he has a very solid job. If anything, he needs less work. But I know that's very rare right now, so I shouldn't complain when he has to work into the night like today.

And it also makes me thankful I married a numbers guy who also happens to be frugal and wise about finances. And who likes to play with Excel spreadsheets.


p.s. What does Micah do? How are things in whatever line of work he's in?

Post a Comment