I admire the talent of journalist Catherine White.
Cat has many talents; writing is only one of her gifts.
Perseverance is another.
Here is her story…
In December 2008 I was laid off from my job as an Assistant Publications Editor for a daily newspaper that I had spent almost eight years working for. I had started as a news assistant and advanced to reporter and, eventually, assistant editor.
After two years of searching for work, which included moving halfway across the country, I finally have a job.
I recently wrote about my struggles as one of the millions of long-term unemployed, and while I am overjoyed to have finally found a business willing to take a chance on a well-educated, hardworking, dedicated individual; my heart goes out to all of those still struggling to find work.
When I left my job I had taken a “buyout.” After years of watching the newsroom grow smaller and smaller due to layoffs and buyouts while those of us left behind were asked to “do more with less,” I was over the stress. It was sad and disconcerting to watch talented professionals lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
By the time a notice went out asking for those willing to take a buyout, I was ready to go. I had co-workers who needed the job and the insurance more than me – a single, healthy, hardworking individual.
I didn’t realize that because of the recession, it didn’t matter that you were college-educated or conscientious. Most businesses weren’t hiring, and competition was fierce for the companies that were.
I also came to understand during this time that the deck was really stacked against the long-term unemployed. Not only were prospective employers looking for smart, industrious workers, they wanted folks with good credit and, preferably, jobs.
As I watched the unemployment rate climb and heard news stories about how businesses were making more money but not spending it on new hires, I began to feel desperate.
I watched the government play politics with unemployment benefits – the lifeline for people who had lost so much and were on the verge of losing everything, including their dignity and basic humanity.
It was also disheartening to constantly hear the unemployed being vilified as lazy and shiftless when there weren’t enough good-paying jobs available.
Most people I knew were willing to take pay cuts, however, it would still be difficult to take a minimum wage job that really doesn’t even pay for basic bills (food, shelter, gas/public transportation). Not to mention the debt that accrues during long-term unemployment.
I would hope that, as Americans, we could have compassion for our fellow citizens. Whether it’s a job, a home or benefits, we shouldn’t be so quick to judge the misfortune of others.
There are plenty of capable, eager Americans willing to work who just aren’t being given the opportunity, often through no fault of their own.
I am so thankful to finally be employed, but I will never forget what it felt like to be a victim of this recession, and I’ll continue to try to keep the plight of the long-term unemployed in the forefront of America’s collective psyche.
Visit http://downbutnotoutletters.tumblr.com/archive to read stories about others who’ve been struggling for a long time to find work.
- Discriminating Against the Unemployed (economix.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Robert Leahy, Ph.D.: Unemployment’s Human Costs (huffingtonpost.com)