When Unemployment Knocks on Your Door
Obama’s Labor Department recently touted the news that initial jobless claims dropped to 457,000, and we are told that the drop is “a sign that the economy likely added jobs in July,” even if it doesn’t dilute the overall high unemployment numbers.
That’s cold comfort to people like me. I was informed not long ago that within six months I’ll no longer have a job because my facility is going to be closed down and all of the work done here is being moved to a facility in South Carolina. A few of us will be kept on, but the majority will be getting the chop starting some time in January.
I have no complaints about how the announcement was handled. I could see that our management team was visibly shaken when they doled out this unpleasant news. They fought to keep the facility open, but the final decision was made by the top levels of the corporation. Our managers said they would do everything in their power to move those whose jobs are being eliminated into other positions within the company for which we may qualify, even if that means relocating to another part of the state or another part of the country. They wanted to give us as much lead time as possible to help ease the transition to either another job or -- as a last resort -- the unemployment line. In this respect, we are luckier than most.
Interestingly enough, I work for a nationwide health insurance company. Is this because of the belt-tightening that’s due to come when ObamaCare is finally implemented, or would it have happened anyway? I don’t know. Right now, that doesn’t seem terribly important. And corporate restructuring happens all the time in order to save money and resources. Still, ever since ObamaCare passed, I’ve been looking for another job, knowing that it was just a matter of time until this industry would have its life juices slowly squeezed out until there wasn’t much left for anyone except government bean-counters. And for quite some time, I’ve known that if layoffs ever occurred, I’d be among the first to go. You know, I really hate being right.
In fact, I’ve been looking to leave my state and the Northeast entirely. It’s expensive to live here, and my husband and I have been just barely holding our own for some time. His situation is not much better than mine. A former IT systems administrator who used to earn just under six figures, he now has to make do as a contractor in corporate help desk support, making about a third of what he used to with no benefits (sick leave, vacation time, insurance) whatsoever. He doesn’t expect the formerly lucrative IT job market to rebound any time soon -- if at all. And although our house is not underwater, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to pay our mortgage and meet our other obligations. We’re seeing “for sale” signs pop up all over town, and earlier this year, our neighbors walked away from their house because they simply could not keep up. Times are tough everywhere.
I’ve tried not to complain too much. I know that there are a lot of people who are in worse situations than we are. We have been able to keep a roof over our heads and while our children may not have the latest in clothing styles and electronic gadgets, they are well fed and aren’t exactly suffering. Truly, we are grateful for what we have.
Unfortunately, if I am unable to secure another full-time job making at least what I earn now before this job ends, we will lose our house. Like many others out there, we have no savings because we’ve been struggling for a long time. Unemployment benefits, as much as they may be needed, won’t be enough.
Still, after the initial shock, I remain cautiously optimistic. I have six months to find something and have a diverse skill set that should serve me well in other industries. I have only been in health insurance for four years; I’ve worked in a variety of different settings throughout my career. Sure, I’d love to make my living full-time as a writer, but for now it remains a pleasant sideline. And if we do lose the house, we could probably find an inexpensive rental or, in a worst case scenario, move in temporarily with relatives. We are not completely without options.
What I do know is this: My future may be uncertain, but whatever happens, I’ll plan to be in charge of my own destiny. I won’t be looking to a “lightbringer” or “messiah” or “The One” to solve my problems, fill up my gas tank, or stock my pantry. Despite what the Marxists at the highest echelons of government would like you to believe, hard work and resourcefulness -- not reliance on government handouts paid for by other taxpayers -- are the hallmarks of America's success. Far be it from me to break from this hallowed tradition.