‘Unfortunately, there weren’t any job opportunities in those career fields where I lived’
In December 2008 I, along with almost my entire department, was laid off.
At the time I was assistant publications dditor for the Star-Gazette, a daily newspaper and the first Gannett newspaper, located in Elmira, N.Y. I had worked for the daily newspaper for almost eight years, starting as a news assistant and advancing to an assistant editor and reporter.
Throughout my time at the Star-Gazette I watched our newsroom grow smaller and smaller due to layoffs and buyouts while those of us left behind were asked to “do more with less.” It was stressful, 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 in late 2008, I was ready to go. I had co-workers who needed the job and the insurance more than I, a single, healthy, hardworking individual, did. However, when they made their cuts, my entire department was laid off except for the editor of my entire department.
I received unemployment benefits for approximately two years minus a brief stint working for the Census as a field enumerator from April to June 2010.
I knew that I would probably not be able to find a newspaper job, and didn’t really want to stay in that field, but felt that I had enough general office experience and additional writing skills to find an office job or, with my advanced media skills, a job in public relations and marketing.
Unfortunately, there weren’t any job opportunities in those career fields where I lived.
During the time that I was in Elmira, NY looking for work, I organized and executed a series of fundraisers for the local animal shelter, handling every aspect of the event planning. I also began writing an online column (blog) for a local TV news station. It was an unpaid job, but I thought it would keep my skills current and show potential employers that I was still active.
In June of 2010, I moved with my sister and her son to Austin, TX after hearing news stories about the positive job outlook in the area. Unfortunately, most of the professional jobs in Austin are tech-based jobs, which I have limited experience with. Since moving to Austin, TX, I have applied for a wide variety of jobs from general office and clerical work to retail, and customer service work.
I am currently working on getting a license needed to sell alcohol (required by Texas law), and then I will start applying for bartending jobs.
It is disheartening that while businesses have rebounded from the recession, they are not willing to hire eager, hardworking people.
It is also disheartening to constantly hear the unemployed being vilified by some who have two and three jobs to support their families. The unemployed are being called lazy and shiftless when there are no enough good-paying jobs.
It would be difficult for me to take a minimum wage job that would not pay for basic bills (food, shelter, gas/public transportation), and the debts I’ve accrued since being unemployed. However, I have lowered my standards considerably. At the time I lost my job I was making $16.41/hr. Now, I’m looking for jobs $8-$10/hour jobs, so I am willing to sacrifice in order to get my foot in the door.
Finally, I haven’t received any feedback that suggests this, but I feel that, in addition to an abundance of competition for these jobs, many businesses do background credit checks on prospective employees. Obviously, if folks have been unemployed for an extended period of time, their credit will most likely be bad. How is one supposed to work on improving their credit if they aren’t given the opportunity and employers count bad credit against applicants?
I am still looking for work, approximately 3 to 4 times a week.
I live with my sister and her son, and she supports me (she is a nurse).
Catherine W., via email