Farai Chideya on theRoot.com recently wrote about how unemployment numbers don't show the complete picture of the difficulty of American joblessness. The current unemployment rate of 8%, while rightly perceived as high, leaves out all the pain and difficulty people are going through right now due to under employment and those who have just stopped looking for jobs. Her article reminds me of a conversation my brother and I were having about friends and family of ours who are in their 40s and 50s. It should be the prime of their lives. They have worked hard, built up experience and knowledge in their chosen profession. But instead of the reality they expected, they get this:
"…. Hazel Shaw, a 58-year-old Arizona woman with a master's degree in public administration and a 20-year work history. After leaving her job to care for her dying father in North Carolina, she returned to find that the job market had dried up. Shaw had to move into a shelter after spending down her retirement savings. But the same qualities that made her a good human resources employee for most of her career ended up getting her a job as a clerk at the same homeless shelter where she'd lived."
There's nothing ok about this story. While I'm glad she's working now, at 58, she should be getting ready to retire from a high five figure job; pension and/or 401k in hand. There is no retirement for her in the next 20 years…at least. I'm a hustler but it's hard to hustle at an age when you should be calling the shots…It's kinda depressing…
I had a friend who I was very close to who was in a somewhat similar situation. She was depressed, medically. She was on various medications to help her get through the day. She was trying to go back to school so she could pursue her career aspirations. She just couldn't move. She saw all of her friends and classmates moving forward in their careers, while she just felt like she was stagnant. She had no family and few friends to help her. Another friend of mine just told me, "I've been hustling so long, and I'm almost 50 and I just don't know what to do. I haven't gotten anywhere close to where I want to go professionally…" Another friend declared, "It's hard when you have to start your entire life over in middle age after your company goes under. This is my second time doing this and I'm getting tired of it…" Another friend works as a lawyer and can barely pay his light bill.
These are the unemployed and under-employed speaking. Their lives look nothing like what they expected. This recession/depression is destroying lives y'all. When you're down, it's really hard to move…literally. Getting out of bed can be tough. You feel like you're all alone. I've been there too, y'all…I know what that feels like.