Get a job!

Being unemployed when you don’t wish to be unemployed is generally one of those things that ranks up there as being a life shattering event or at the very least pretty damn uncomfortable. I know because I speak from experience. It was on July 3, 2007 I was let go from my teaching gig and to say I didn’t see it coming was an understatement. I had been teaching business classes at a local for profit career school, the type that many non traditional students tend to go to when they are looking to change careers or upgrade their skills. The department that I was a part of,  was deemed to be unprofitable so the powers to be decided to kill it and well that left a sista without a job.

The timing could not have been worse because just a few months before I was let go, the Spousal Unit lost several of his freelance clients and my salary had been plugging in the cracks. Thankfully I was eligible for unemployment insurance benefits but they were roughly about $850 a month which was substantially less than I had earned as an adjunct teacher but hey I was thankful for what I got. That said, after taking a few weeks to be depressed and lick my wounds I got on the grind and it took damn near 17 months to land a new job as the director of a small non profit that paid less than my teaching gig. I went back to work a few days after the United States elected Barack Obama, as I joke there was a spirit of change in the air because my Black ass being hired to run an agency that deals with rural poor whites was definitely a conversation starter. I can’t even tell you the number of times I was introduced as the new director and there was an uncomfortable or curious pause. Thankfully everyone got over it and almost 2 years later I am still at this job.

Point that I am trying to make though is that I lost my job before the official start of the recession and it took over a year to find a job. I actually exhausted my unemployment benefits and started hustling, doing grant writing for small agencies and even doing workshops. I often greatly discounted my prices just so that I could earn some money. But the fact is during that period of time if it had not been for the assistance of my father in law, this blog would be called Black Girl in Arizona because almost certainly we would have lost our house and ended up living either with him or in one of his rental houses out in that way too hot, too sunny state.

If you lost your job though in the midst of the great recession though, chances are you are facing down some real hard times, hell you might even be one of the 99’ers like this woman. In case you don’t feel like clicking that would be folks who have received extended unemployment benefit’s for 99 weeks and for some of these folks the bennies are over but guess what? They still have no job. Not surprising when the fact is for every one job opening there are 5 applicants, mathematically that means there are not enough jobs for every person who wants or needs a job.

However it was after reading this article that I felt inspired to write, since based off the comments and I must say if you have some time please read not only the article but the comments. There are many who feel that any college educated American who is still jobless after 2 years must be a bum. Wow! I don’t know about you but I rarely even see signs at the local fast food joints stating that they are looking for help. The few times I hit up the job sites I see few openings that if I were looking for a job, which would even be suitable for me. Some think if you are jobless maybe you should offer to babysit, or do lawn work…anything to earn some cash. Great idea but generally one needs the aptitude and or tools to hang up their shingle besides in the new era of frugality that is taking over the nation many of us are doing are own shit. Normally at least once a year I hire someone to do the heavy yard work, not this year, the Spousal Unit is doing the bushes. Yep, they are crooked but guess what it saves a few cents.

The sad reality is while some of us are still living in a bubble where jobs and money are plentiful for some of us that is not reality. There are many more folks like this woman and my Dad out there who are literally a moment away from homelessness. Thankfully my Dad’s short term dilemma is solved though right now we are looking at the long term solutions.

What we need aside from the government to really address the real economic crisis on the ground is compassion and understanding that most of us are only a few checks or 6 months away from homelessness. While the hubby and I are doing ok at the moment, fact is our savings is insufficient and since the man is a contract worker at the moment should his major gig end he would not qualify for unemployment insurance benefits and we would be screwed.

To those who say unemployment benefits discourage people from taking jobs, I say really? I remember in late 2007 being newly unemployed, sending out a good 25 resumes a week, scouting the jobs sites, emailing and calling and just being frustrated and bored. So I decided maybe a holiday job at Macy’s would be nice. Well I went to the group interview and was offered a position that paid minimum wage, something like $7.25 an hour at that time, no set schedule (kidlet was about 2.5 at the time and with her in childcare I needed a schedule that worked around that) required I wear certain clothes and at the interview they were trying to convince me and the others that we should open a Macy’s account so that we could use the discount they gave employees. Um…this is a minimum wage paying job, why the hell do I need a credit card? Sadly the younger women in the group interview were eager to fill out the form so they could get a card and charge the clothes they would need to work there. Well I mulled it over but when training day came and after I realized the job would impact my unemployment benefits so I would either make less or exactly the same thing as I was getting on unemployment I said thanks but no thanks.

I imagine to some this admission makes me a slacker but at that point I still had benefits and taking a job that was nowhere near my career field and could put me in a worse financial place seemed like a bad idea. I wanted to work but let’s be real!  Besides what if I got calls for real jobs but was scheduled to work? In my mind I am sorry but it’s a no brainer.

Nope, what we need are some services and systems in place that help the long term unemployed just because a person loses their job does not mean they should lose their dignity. As a nation we have plenty o money to keep fighting wars, how about we bring those troops home and invest that money in the citizens in this country?

Struggles of a young Black Man & the Great Recession

Today’s post is actually an email that my brother who is a tad younger than me sent. Unemployment rates are high as hell and if you are Black its even worse. I thought what he wrote reflected the struggles that many are facing and in some ways captures the angst of many who were sold a bill of goods that their education would move them up the socio -economic ladder. Instead we have a growing group of indentured servants who are enslaved to student loans that won’t be paid off till they retire or worse yet are canceled upon their death. The Great Recession is restructuring America in ways that we won’t fully understand for years to come, as the middle class shrinks and we have a growing number of poor folks in this country.

Anyway here are my brother’s words:

What do you do when you do everything you were told to do
and get no result?
What happens when you have a back up of a back up and yet still struggle?

No one can plan for the likes of the recession, especially the one we have had
but as a person that is a hair under 30, I have been working since 16, I expected more.
Much more!

Education? Check! I have been blessed to have a Bachelors in Architecture, and a Masters
in Real Estate. How ironic I have education in two areas that are severely affected by this
nasty recession.

Networking? Check! I have been working in trade association and organizations for over 10 years
to better enhance myself, knowing that just a degree is not enough to be armed with in this
war for success and financial security

Job hunting? Check! I have sent out hundreds of resumes! I have followed up. I have worked with
these fly-by-night companies that say they can enhance your resume, and no call backs.
Knowing ones self worth, its quite depressing to ask for a calculated living wage from potential employers, and have people and employers
say that’s too much? At what point does it become common sense that people need to live amongst HR managers, upper
management, and C-suite executives?
What is also sad is having a masters, and incurring all this debt for the sake of the financial prosperity
has gotten me nothing but harassing calls from Sallie Mae, and the frustrating of not being able to pay
but only defer, defer defer.

What is one to do? Everyday I dedicate hours to calling firms back, sending resumes, tapping my network but
to no avail. Nothing is more frustrating then to find out that your education has made you “overqualified” which
a lot of times now translates to, “Yeah you are probably good, but you cost too much and the C-level execs dont want
you cutting into their 6-7 figure bonuses for you”
Lack of faith in corporate America makes one quite hesitant in believing in any form of job security these days.  However
try explaining that to people who don’t have degrees or family members who assume that since you have multiple degrees
you must be not applying yourself.

Tried entrepreneurship? Check.. By necessity of survival, and trying to keep a roof over my head, I have been pushing to get
my company off the ground. Spending countless hours doing research on business related matters, as well as pumping out
product for the clients I scramble to get, but its not enough! To be in the arts right now is to be a stranded in the middle of the
ocean, during a hurricane with no raft! Any and everything one can do to improve themselves, i have tried and retried again and again.
Left feeling like Peter in the boat with Jesus, proverbially speaking, I have been fishing all night! Praying without cease, I am
wondering, when and where will I find my other side of the boat, to find my abundance?

Even now, I could go on and further elaborate, but I wont.. because I want this story to be heard, as well as continue to job hunt as my rent
is already past due, so I have to get back to fishing!