Can I tell you how much I hate being unemployed? I don’t like being unemployed. I don’t like being fiscally dependent on someone else. I feel like a drain on our finances because every other day I’m asking for money for something else. I should me making my own money. I shouldn’t have to go to H like some hapless teenager asking for an advance on her allowance. He doesn’t make it seem that way, but that’s the way I feel.
I started working about a month before my 16th birthday, and kept working until I got married back in 2002. I held the same job at the same company from the time I was 15 to the time I was 21 (albeit there were intermittent times when I wasn’t working there, like when I left for college, but I’d work over holidays and breaks as an contingent employee). I never got written up. Rarely had problems with my bosses (though I had the occasional tiff with my co-workers). Other employees in my building knew me and liked me just fine. I was polite and courteous. 90% of the time, if they called me in to fill in for someone, I came. Even when it was the morning shift and I had to be there at 630am but had gone to bed late the previous evening.
But, for whatever reason, none of this matters because I’ve been unemployed (taking care of my daughter) for a little over four years. I ran a business for about two years (and I don’t mean some door-to-door avon type stuff [no offense to avon sellers, but that ain’t for me], I mean I started and ran my own business), by myself. No employees. No assistants. Just me. I bought the supplies, I made the product, I advertised the product, I shipped it. Ok, H helped too in the advertising aspect. His friends and coworkers still bug him for cookies. (Yes I had a business making and selling cookies, largely over the internet) But this doesn’t seem to matter either. All they see is a college drop out (I was in college for three years with no clue as to what I wanted to do with myself…so rather than racking up even more debt with student loans and wasting my time, I quit to take some time to figure myself out) who has been unemployed for nearly five years.
The economy in Michigan isn’t helping either. We’re number one on the list of worst places for employment. How depressing is that? Growing up in Detroit, it was all but written on your birth certificate that so long as you had a high school diploma, you were going to have a good, well paying job –with benefits– with the Big 3. If you had a family member working for one of them (and you always had at least one), you were in. Guaranteed. You’d start at about $15/hour and go up from there. You were unionized, you got health and dental insurance and you got employee discounts on cars. You were set. But this isn’t the case anymore. Factories aren’t hiring. At least they aren’t in the Western Hemisphere. Because the auto industry is such an integral part of our state’s economy (what was that saying about putting all your eggs in one basket?) when the Big 3 take a hit, many other businesses do to. Everyone from parts suppliers to restaurateurs to convenience stores. The Big 3 go down, they’re sinking with them.
I kinda feel deceived. With the auto companies taking major hits every fiscal quarter, life here becomes more uncertain. There are more people on food stamps now (1.21 million I believe is the number they’re throwing around now) than there ever have been in this state. Our unemployment rate continues to rise (though it fell seven points in January, it’s still higher than it was at the same time last year). And the problem with unemployment statistics is that it only counts the people who are actively looking for work. That means those of us who have become frustrated by the sheer lack of opportunities (for whatever reason) and have given up our search go uncounted. Foreclosures are skyrocketing in the Metro Detroit area. 1 out of every 4 fires (in this state) involving homes and cars are arsons because people are taking desperate measures to hold off foreclosures and repossessions. Honestly, I’m sort of surprised that riots haven’t broken out.
The state government is trying, though the Republican lead state Senate seems to want nothing to do with helping those who are in low or lower middle class income bracket. A few years back the Governor passed a bill that allows laid off workers to get re-training or education in a different sector. Which is great. People who have been doing the same job for many years and suddenly find that their particular skill set is no longer viable deserve some sort of assistance in getting a new trade or skill. But with our (continuing) budget shortfall, I can’t see this lasting.
And I won’t mention the massive brain-drain going on. Students coming in for college and then leaving as soon as they graduate.
Tomorrow I’m hopping the bus to try, once again, to find a job. Wish me luck.