If you or someone close to you has lost a job, use the e-form at the bottom of this page to tell us what happened and what you need most from government. Or e-mail us directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll publish as many of your stories as we can.
When asked how things are going, the woman at the checkout counter answered that her husband has had his wages cut by 15 percent, the other men in his shop have been cut back to four days a week and her son-in-law was just laid off. “I came into the world with nothing,” she said, a smile on her face,” and I’m going out the same way.”
At the other end of the spectrum, a recent graduate from an Ivy League college trying to make it in the New York theater said that she used to stand out as the starving artist in her crowd. Now her friends, from the “IBs” (as she calls baby investment bankers) to the young man who lost his job as a model maker for an architectural firm, are looking for work. She adds that her friends who are still working debate whether their employers will keep them because they are paid so little or if the cuts will start from the bottom and work up.
A 62-year-old woman in Washington who has been out of work for months says she has sent out more than 150 résumés and has not gotten a single nibble. She has had to drop her $500-a-month health insurance policy and will not be able to make the next payment on her condo.
A veteran computer programmer who heretofore never lacked for work has been laid off two jobs in the last year. Not long ago he found himself where he never expected to be at 9 o’clock in the morning–at the door of the unemployment compensation office. The line was so long they told him to come back the next day and get there by 7.
To take center stage, joblessness has to be made urgently real in personal and policy terms. If you have been laid off or you know the story of someone else who has, please write to us using the form below, telling us what happened and what you most need from government. We’ll publish as many as we can.
With all the publicity about bailed-out bankers walking off with the government money intended to save their companies, and despite the public air filled with arguments over how to prop up the swaying financial system, the most important topic is employment. The big boys and big girls can dick around all they want with the TARP, the stimulus package and the auto industry rescue expeditions. They can yak about new green electric transmission grids and infrastructure, but if unemployment keeps growing at the present rate, nothing else will matter.
With each layoff, saving the financial structure, propping up the banks, keeping businesses running and loans flowing gets harder. Everything depends on jobs, jobs, jobs, jobs.
The unemployment numbers are horrendous. Two million seven hundred thousand fewer people were working at the end of 2008 than at the beginning. Layoff announcements this month have been sickeningly large. In one day alone, companies released the news that 43,000 more people were about to loose their jobs. In California the unemployment rate is closing in on 10 percent.