The Anxiety of Unemployment

Imagine being unemployed. No, really imagine it. Imagine the state of a being where a major part of every day is simply doing nothing but wait; waiting for that phone call or the email from a recruiter. Imagine not seeing the pay check every other week – the same pay check that you were so used to, when employed, that often you barely even noticed its arrival. Imagine the enduring agony of rejection as you go through one job application after another, preparing and perfecting and sending out resumes, cover letters and hand-written thank you notes that never seem to materialize to even a hopeful prospect of a job. Imagine the constant and nagging urge to just give up.

Unemployment rate is presently at 8.1 percent in the US of A, better than same time last year but still not a sign of a healthy economy. A more troubling statistic is that thirty percent of the unemployed have been out of a job for more than 6 months and the picture is even bleaker for job hunters who are past 40 years old. Companies don’t hire older candidates simply because they don’t want to train them in the newer tools and skill sets and pay them more. There is also the stigma attached to the long-term unemployed that if you hadn’t been hired in a while then there must be something wrong with you. A lot of people, well past their younger stages of career life are faced with these problems and Dominick Brocato is one of them.

Stumbled onto his painfully sad story in the New York Times website today about the practical realities of long-term unemployment and how it hurts emotionally as much as it does financially. Dominick, in his words, narrates his journey from a two-decade career as an HR staff who got laid-off as part of a company wide restructuring to being unemployed for, as of this May, 27 straight months. A father of three young adult children, Dominick is at a stage in his life where he can’t start a new career nor can he choose to live a life of retired leisure. The only option for him is to find a job, and as the Times article shows, he has been agonizingly unsuccessful finding one.

The more worrying part of his story for me was the progressive desperation in Dominick’s voice as he explains how after so many job applications, interviews and meetings, all he is left with is heart-break and a damaging level of self-scrutiny. He repeatedly tells us how much in control he was in is earlier employed life, how he was able to support himself early in his childhood after his mother passed away, and how he always saw himself as someone who, with perseverance and hard work, shaped his world and it is easy to see how crushing it is for him to face this reality where everyday is filled to the brim with uncertainty and anguish.

When people find themselves out of luck in life for any extended amount time, for any reason whatsoever, there always seems to be a constant presence of some form of cancer. Recently, Dominick was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in his left leg which requires frequent doses of chemotherapy. With the US of A’s medical insurance system firmly under the grotesque death-grip of employer-provided benefits, he is out of luck with that too. Perhaps he summarizes it better than anyone can.

I talked to the one doctor that I go to and said, “O.K., so starting in August, if I can’t pay, how is that going to affect my still coming here to see you?” …

He was very silent. He didn’t answer me.

This is his predicament. He needs money to support his family and medical expenses and the longer he stays unemployed lesser he gets preferred by the employers and it just seems like slow-moving rut. Given the number of people who have been long-term unemployed, he is definitely not alone on this terrible ride. Unless congress can extend some of the unemployment benefits and/or the economy picks up steam it is very unlikely that the current state will get any better for Dominick and his fellow job hunters.

After reading his story, suddenly I became thankful for everything I have. As much as I would like to have it better, what I have ain’t so bad after all.

[Post: 281 of 365] [Days Missed: 98]
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2 thoughts on “The Anxiety of Unemployment

  1. No need to imagine unemployment – I’m living it! The unemployment rate is much higher than 8 percent by the way if you include people who have given up looking for work all together and are not in the labor force.

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