Hello Job Warriors!

Wow, things are bad out there. More than 13 million out of work, 9 million trying scrape by working part time when they’d rather have fulltime jobs. Cuts in every industry. I met a college grad, an accounting major, who can’t get a job. Who would have predicted that? He went into the field because he thought firms would be lining up to hire him.

Maybe nobody has any money to count.

I'm not exactly sure what tone to take with this blog, which for the moment, will focus almost exclusively on the wretched job situation we are in. It is my fervent prayer that we won’t be in it long, but right now it doesn’t look that way. I want it to be personal, to be informative, to be helpful, to be a place where we can vent.

I want to balance the technical with the human and once in a while get a laugh.

        

The public relations folks, who are having their own problems, are pretty creative when it comes to marketing unemployment. You gotta love this. I actually received a public relations pitch from a deodorant company tied to unemployment. Get this angle: Stress can make you sweat and smell bad, so the unemployed better make sure they buy deodorant. Please!

         

Unfortunately, this is my second time covering a recession and I know from experience that it’s depressing, really depressing. Whenever times are good, I live in fear of having to cover really silly workplace stories, including, for example, whether people bring their dogs to work. How about annoying co-workers and their stupid radio choices? Now I’d love to cover those stories. Banal is good, right?

      

Some of the numbers in Sunday’s Inquirer story in the paper blow my mind. How can there be 15,300 fewer lawyers, architects and other business professionals working in the city and the seven surrounding counties? Driving into the newsroom, I’ve seen some construction on random scattered houses in the neighborhoods, but those few jobs can’t be enough to offset the 11,700 jobs lost in construction over one year.

      

In some ways, I guess, I’m looking at the numbers to avoid the pain, because the pain is everywhere, from workers laid off by email, or hustled out the door in disgrace, to companies adding up phony infractions so they can fire employees and avoid increased unemployment benefit costs. I almost can’t bear to see the utter despair in a person who has worked thirty years and is now cast out. It’s insane!

       

The young are hurting too.  There’s a young man in my church – tall, one of those guys that, under most circumstances, because of his appearance and his personal attributes, would be a pillar in the community. I used to teach his wife in Sunday School when she was a little girl. Now she’s a grown woman with two children – one of whom has serious health issues. Recently, we celebrated because we heard they had just gotten their first house. Latest news: He lost his job. I can see the discouragement in how he walks, slumped and tired. Where's he going to get his strength?

        

What about the guilt? Right now I have a job, so how can I ever complain about anything – not when I see that young man at my church, or the 55-year-old man I met in Camden last week who said he’s scared to death about ever finding work. We in the newspaper business are plenty scared – just like everyone else. Newspapers around us are closing as printing presses spit out final editions. What’s going to happen?

    

In some ways, this feels like a “soul and heart” test, along with a financial challenge. How can we endure? How can we be cheerful? How can we help each other? How can we retain our humanity? It’s springtime. Will we see cherry blossoms along the river, or will we worry them into oblivion?

       

Let’s keep in touch. Let me know what’s happening in your offices or factories. Don’t worry, I know when to keep things confidential. Let’s share problems and solutions. And let’s remember, even if it is for just a few minutes, to look at the cherry blossoms and smell the lilacs.

        

The economy can take our jobs, but it can’t take away spring.  

            

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