How to Tell if You’re About to Get Laid Off

Hindsight is 20-20. My nearsighted eyes are not, but there isn’t much I can do about that right now. I can’t afford to visit an optometrist for a new pair of glasses. My vision insurance, along with my sense of self-worth and steady biweekly paychecks, were ripped away from me last month when I was laid off. I hadn’t seen the axe coming and was devastated by the news. I might also have been financially ruined were it not for the existence of unemployment insurance and a committed partner I can rely on to pick up any financial slack.

The Point Has Been Made (The Point is, Life is Terrible for a Lot of People)

Today Gawker publishes the 40th edition of its unemployment stories. It's also the final edition, "not because there are no more stories to tell— we still receive new ones every week— but because its point has been made." The whole series can be found here, if you feel like you need some fodder for a depressive episode.

How to Deal With An Unemployed Person

Whether you’re headed to a wedding (even your own) or just a barbecue, you may interact with someone who is unemployed. Do you offer a hug? Should you feign laryngitis and walk away? It can be stressful for the employed, or otherwise economically stable, to know how to respond.

Trust me. Since I was laid off, family, former colleagues, and especially, strangers, (albeit indirectly and always unsolicited) let me know how challenging my joblessness is for them. These rules of thumb will help you handle the unbearable lightness of being around the non-working class.

JUDGE: If someone admits to being laid off, fired, let go, or otherwise not working, let her know that her current situation is directly related to her defective character. Use strong simplistic (not to be confused with simple!) terms. Cloak statements in the form of questions like, “What did you do wrong?” or “Who can blame them (insert: corporation here)?” If the unemployed person seems defensive, remind her that you have a job for a reason.

Hopelessly Devoted to Wanting a Job

People who want a job but aren’t actively looking are called “discouraged workers” by the Labor Dept. CNN is calling them the “hopelessly unemployed,” and there are a lot of them: “Five years ago, before the recession began, about 2.5 million people said they wanted a job but hadn’t searched for one in at least a year. Now, that number is around 3.25 million.”

An Unemployed Parent’s Job Hunt

In Motherlode, Andrea Pate, a mother with two children talks about how difficult it has been finding a job—even a minimum wage one—and making ends meet. Pate lives in Milwaukee where the unemployment rate is significantly higher than the national average at 9.8 percent.

I Used to Be a Great Worker, Really Type A, And Then I Lost My Job And Now I Am What You’d Call Not That Into It

More ways unemployment messes everything up for everyone: Great workers become eh workers. "The deterioration of employment prospects during a deep, prolonged recession might induce some elite workers to lose their pro-work ethic. Since identities are sticky, they might keep their new identity even when the recession is long past."

Avoid Applying for Mobile Home Installer Jobs

Logan (half-jokingly): "Maybe I should become an actress?"

Are Retraining Programs Effective for the Unemployed?

There are few things that both the Democratic and Republican tickets agree on, but one of them is the importance of getting the unemployed into job retraining programs. The question is: Do job retraining programs work?

Never

Almost didn’t read this WSJ article (“Out of Work Over 9 Months? Good Luck Finding a Job” on how hard it is for the long-term unemployed to get hired because duhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh but sure glad I did because this line is POW BAM ZOINK: “Economists worry many of them will never work again.”

Life Post-Sun-Times

Last week, the Chicago Sun-Times laid off its entire photo staff, and began telling their reporters to take photographs using their iPhones. One of the photojournalists who lost his job, Rob Hart, started a blog documenting his newly unemployed life. He's using an iPhone to do it.

Just Some Americans Living the American Dream

From CNN Money, five stories of the hopeless unemployed (you know, people who don’t have jobs and have stopped looking  for jobs because they have found the job search to be … hopeless).  Anyway, here’s what we’ve got:

—A 53-year-old former manager who is “too old to start an entry-level job and I’m too young to retire.”

—A 42-year-old cancer survivor (“Before I was diagnosed with cancer, I worked for the state of Oregon and was the number one service manager for the Department of Human Services. My job was to help low income families find work and get food stamps and insurance. Now, I cannot even get a job at McDonalds, and I’m the one living on social assistance.”)

—A 24-year-old grad student who went back to school because he couldn’t find a job (“I also took out the full amount in student loans, and I’m very worried about that. But basically, I had to make a choice between hard times now or hard times later.”)

—A 49-year-old former admin worker who was laid off, worked in a factory, tried to go back to school, ran out of financial aid, and now is trying to start a business (“What’s the worst that could happen? We can’t end up any worse off than we are now. And it’s better than taking a part-time, minimum-wage, whatever job.”)

—A 58-year-old man who worked for the same corporation for 28 years, was laid off, and applied for corporate jobs for years  before giving up. He now lives off a small pension (“At this point in my life, I cannot get my head around starting over again. I realize that whatever I do, it will have to be something independent.”)

These people are not outliers. There are 3 million “discouraged workers” in this country.