Recession Nightmare: From Unemployed to Unemployable
“Long-term unemployment is becoming the defining feature of the Great Recession. As of September, the average time out of work stands at 40.5 weeks. Of the 14 million unemployed, about 45 percent have been jobless for more than six months, and over 70 percent of those have not worked in a year or more. No other business cycle since the 1930s has come close to matching the current experience.”
The longer one is unemployed the closer one etches toward becoming unemployable. Employers would rather hire someone who is currently employed or who has been only recently unemployed. This is nothing new, it’s always been that way. I’ve known it since I was 15 and so always would take any job just to remain employed, because it’s easier to find a job if you already have a job.
Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve known the hopelessness of not being able to find a job, any job. I once drove a beat-up old car to Portland, Oregon hoping to re-connect with a young lady friend, find gainful employment and start a life of adventure on the West coast. I can’t think about it now without chuckling.
The Portland economy was in a slump in the mid-1960’s, the young lady was busy with other things, and the job search was a bust. I kept lowering my sights knowing that even an employed dishwasher had a better chance of finding a good job that an unemployed, uneducated kid with plenty of drive but no skills. But even the fast food joints weren’t hiring. So I tried getting piece work in the Oregon bean fields. Stoop labor picking beans would at least bring in a little cash, albeit very little. I was told I was of the wrong heritage. Only Mexicans, I was told, had the stamina for that work. A white guy like me would be out of place, and I’d probably drop in the hot sun. Even my protestations that there is no such thing as hot sun in Western Oregon didn’t work. I was at rock bottom, I couldn’t even get a job picking beans at 25 cents a bushel.
That was a nasty experience, but was quickly remedied by moving on to other places where jobs were more plentiful and much easier to get, i.e., The U.S. Navy. Slip of the lip and a trip.
The fortunate part of that experience for me was that I learned firsthand just how dispiriting it is to be unemployed with little hope of coming out of it. That feeling is the absolute worst that one can experience. The sense of self-worthlessness is so overwhelming it can emotionally cripple a person as much as any physical injury.
There must be a few million of the current 14.5 million long-term unemployed that are now experiencing something much worse than what I went through in Portland those many years ago. They might have families and responsibilities they can no longer shoulder. In my case, it was temporary and I had no one but myself to support. I was only in Oregon for two and one-half months. I was young and found an escape by joining the Navy where I was quickly put on a Fletcher class (WW II era) destroyer and kept way too busy to emote on personal matters. Many of today’s unemployed are not young and are aging toward the point of no return. Hope and change? Yes, there has been change for them, a really bad sort of change, and they are looking at a hopeless future.
That will be the legacy of the Obama presidency. This is the result he and his minions intended, in my view. A permanently unemployed dependent class of people to keep the Democrat party in power forever. Hope? Yes, we can hope this diabolical scheme fails. That is what Rush Limbaugh meant and was misunderstood when he said he hopes Obama fails, because if Obama succeeds the people will be saddled with failure. Obama appears to be succeeding, and millions of Americans are living in failure as a result.
Many of these unfortunate are not going to make it out of the hole they are currently in. They are not going to be able to look back on this experience knowing that it’s over and they’re the wiser for it. This life is going to follow them to their graves.
One man, Barack Obama, is responsible for this. May he never be forgiven.
UPDATE: There was once a different sort of president who, unlike Obama, believed in American Exceptionalism. He believed that America uniquely in the world offered opportunity for all men. He praised the American system of economic opportunity of which, he said “the man who labored for another last year, this year labors for himself, and next year he will hire others to labor for him.”
I don’t need say the name of that president. We all know. None of us were alive at that time, but we remember that spirit and that man.