It’s been a while since I have posted and I need to explain. For a change I have been experiencing good luck regarding my medical problems and have been living in the moment — celebrating the blessings! However, in the meanwhile, my husband’s misfortune regarding his job search continues. Despite the fact he is the most giving, caring, loving, kind, devoted, hard-working person I have ever known…it’s been 11 months and my husband is still unemployed.
Last month the U.S. Government stopped paying him unemployment benefits and no longer includes him in their unemployment statistics. He’s not employed, he’s not unemployed, he’s not retired or disabled, so which category is he in? There isn’t one. Our government is deliberately deceiving all of us — its American citizens — he is unemployed, receiving no benefits, but not considered a statistic.
Those who don’t know my husband may make some assumptions. Well, don’t. He spends his days and nights applying for jobs, writing cover letters, filling out applications, interviewing, writing thank you letters, reaching out to friends, previous co-workers, relatives, etc. via face-to-face meetings, Linked In, Facebook, emails, telephone calls, etc. On average, he spends 12-16 hours a day, seven days a week job hunting. When he isn’t helping take care of his disabled wife, he is making it his job to get a job. He has also worked with a professional to have his résumé updated as well as enhancing his interviewing skills. He has read the latest books, been to the state Workforce hiring locations where they provide assistance in job searches as well as worked with recruiters. He has even gone back to college to show he is continuing his education.
For those who know my husband, he has beautiful salt and pepper hair (yes, the salt probably came from me). A close friend, who also spent a great deal of time looking for a job, mentioned dying his hair to help him appear younger. While we appreciate any suggestions, it honestly, isn’t who he is. Does he need to be someone who he isn’t to get a position with a company? Is that what it takes in this economy? Is it the color of his hair that is preventing him from getting a job?
He’s either overqualified or under qualified, too much education or not enough, too old or not old enough. Whatever the case, it’s a difficult situation for those who are 40+ years. In fact, the entire job searching process is a nightmare for many despite their age, education level, career choice, degree status, etc. There are too few jobs, too many applicants and a slow economy where employers are scared to commit. During a recent job interview for a position in our small hometown my husband was told the company had received 720 applications.
My husband and I watched ‘The Lost American Dream’ an episode of Our America with Lisa Ling. While the show was a bit dated and doesn’t place blame, it is a powerful, moving, honest portrayal of the economy, lack of jobs, and how badly people and families are hurting. The show follows a family, a recent law graduate, two retirees and a single mother. Every government official elected into office should be required to view this show. To me, those who are voting on unemployment benefits, the elimination of jobs and writing laws determining the future of our country should be forced to visit a family to see what surviving without an income or pension is all about. Maybe when it came to voting on key decisions affecting the income or lack of income for people they would think of the bigger picture.
My husband began working when he was 13 years old. His father is 85 years old and continues to work five days a week. Work is ingrained in every fiber of each member of his family — honest people working hard to make a living. My husband is one of six children — five boys and one girl. Raised in a Christian home with a traditional upbringing by parents who have been married for 50 years, he felt badly for receiving unemployment benefits for the months he did even though he paid into the system for 33 years. However, the government only paid him a modest weekly amount for nine months from both state and federal. I wish someone would explain how this is a fair system.
Since my husband was downsized last September, there have been many people who have offered to make telephone calls or ‘put in a good word’ for him. Sadly, we have found there are very few people who actually take the time to do so. I am left wondering why? Are we a society where we no longer help one another? Are we afraid to recommend a family member, friend or former co-worker for a position? Are we so busy watching television, posting on Facebook, going to social events that we don’t have time to write a letter of recommendation?
Honestly, I know a lot of people — who know a lot of people and have done favors for many — I thought when the time came and either my husband, daughter or I needed something we could count on certain people. There are a few who have passed on company names and a smattering of tips mentioned here and there. For those, we are truly grateful, however, I was raised to help each other through thick and thin…no matter what. There are days when I feel it’s the three of us against the world. And, believe it or not, we never thought we would be in this situation. Like those featured in Lisa Ling’s television show, none of those families thought they would ever lose their homes, or need to rely on welfare or accept food stamps. Even my shrink’s brother has been unemployed for two years.
Sadly, the real unemployment rate in the United States is 17.9 million people. The government statistic is 12.5 million. What about the other 5.4 million citizens, like my husband who are unaccounted for? What message is our government sending? If you aren’t employed or don’t receive unemployment benefits, disability or retirement then you don’t matter? What if my husband stops paying his bills, taxes, mortgage, etc.? To our government he is invisible…however, the reality is he is next to me bigger than life on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, not playing golf, fishing, or enjoying life…he is doing what he does every day — job hunting and I see the sadness in his eyes and I watch a little bit of joy slip away with each rejection he receives.
©My Unplanned Life and www.shakinguplife.wordpress.com 2012.