Kevin Meyer, Public Affairs Specialist at the U. S. Department of Labor, shared his long-term unemployment story in a piece on the Department of Labor’s blog. The piece is entitled, Long-Term Unemployment, A Problem That Hits Home.
Meyer published this piece after attending the Heldrich Center for Workforce Development’s roundtable discussion in New Jersey. Several older, long-term unemployed professionals in New Jersey discussed their circumstances and searches for employment with the US Secretary of Labor, Thomas Perez, his staff, and other officials during this discussion.
Here’s Meyer’s recount of the event:
“. . . one person after another shared stories of devastation as they continue to look for employment to support their families.”
He understood these stories well. He was one of the long-term unemployed for 2 years before accepting his present position. He says:
“Those stories felt too familiar. In January 2014, I was one of the nation’s then nearly 3.6 million long-term unemployed. I was 52 and had spent two of the previous three years jobless. The great recession hit everyone hard, but older workers like me had a particularly tough time bouncing back. Even now as the overall unemployment rate fell below 5 percent for the first time since 2008, more than 2 million people have been out of work for more than six months. Today, the typical duration of unemployment for workers between 45 and 64 is still about a month longer than it is for younger workers.”
Meyer shares his struggle with unemployment “in hope that, by opening up to those around me, I could help them see that the road ahead – challenging as will be – is not a dead end.”
I’m not between the ages of 45 and 64 (the roundtable discussion’s target audience) but can relate to the job search frustrations shared by those in attendance. So, it’s good to see the US Labor Secretary, Thomas Perez making unemployment “house calls.”
In fact, in a previous post on unemployment stereotypes, I made a suggestion:
“Consider alternatives to unemployment stereotypes. Challenge them by gathering facts from the mouths of persons who are unemployed.”
Why? Because when you get information from outside sources, you get what I call myths because they don’t apply to every professional who is navigating unemployment.
I’m aware Mr. Perez didn’t see my suggestion, but I’m glad he understands a significant fact:
“ . . . the most important thing to do in this job is to make house calls. Because behind every data point is a person, a human being with a story to tell.” – US Labor Secretary Thomas Perez, The Guardian
I commend him for this.
If you want to know more about the challenges and frustrations of professionals experiencing unemployment, then there’s no better resource than these professionals themselves.
Upon meeting with them, you learn:
Diligent job seekers, whether young or old, go through “endless applications, unreturned calls, useless job searches, financial losses, anger, guilt and fear.”
Diligent job seekers, whether young or old, search for decent employment and wages to provide for themselves and others.
Diligent job seekers, whether young or old, are pushing through unemployment courageously—despite the effects of a prolonged job search and barriers to employment.
Though the impact of unemployment varies by age, the experience is challenging for everyone affected.
It’s always great to see others helping people among the ranks of the long-term unemployed, whether it’s by sharing a story (Meyer) or seeking solutions to this crisis (Perez).
And, without question, these types of discussions are eye openers for any employed person who’s willing to see and listen to the American stories of unemployment.
You can read more of Kevin Meyer’s piece at:
Kevin Meyer, Long-Term Unemployment, A Problem That Hits Home │ U. S. Department of Labor Blog