I’m wrapping up in Kansas City, which isn’t easy to say because I certainly feel like I could spend weeks here, interviewing folks who have lost a job in the last several years. We put out a few calls to message boards and job groups and were inundated with responses. (A big thanks to Maureen Reintjes at the Kansas City Metro Networking Job Club for being particularly helpful in spreading the word.)
It was devastating to hear a lot of the stories that the people of this city had to share. It was even more devastating not having enough time to reach out to everyone who offered to share their stories. Even the subject lines are overwhelming. Here’s one: “from barely employed to… unemployed to… underemployed…but my bills still need to get paid.”
Many folks wrote very thoughtful and thorough emails about their experiences. I’ve asked a few if I could share here so I’ve provided some excerpts below.
Safe to say, the hurt in this country runs deep and wide.
I personally lost my job of 32 years on Dec 7, 2009, due to cutbacks at a major Pharmaceutical Company.
I do feel that many companies are targeting the older population in order to save money on benefits, such as insurance, vacation and salaries. Having been with the company for 32 years I was at the top of my pay scale, with 6 weeks of vacation. I was always a dependable, active, happy employee and received great reviews. The 7 managers I supported were as stunned as I was when my job was eliminated (I had supported some of these managers for over 20 years). Workloads was dispersed among those that were left (to cover the work of the 4 admins that were eliminated).
The company eventually hired 2 replacements – giving them new job titles. One had a degree in chemistry, which benefited the company better and the other one had no better talents than those that were cut, but was hired in at a lower salary and without the 6-weeks of earned vacation time.
Here is my story. I will start with the fact I am employed at the present moment but it is a day to day thing. I have been in the title escrow/real estate industry for almost 20 yrs. Two years ago when the industry tanked was laid-off from the company after being there over 6 yrs. Was fortunate enough to find a job within 2 mos in the mortgage industry. Now because of the tight, tight requirements that have been put in placed on that industry by the current administration, I was laid-off again after 2 yrs. Being in the 50′s age bracket I feel is now becoming a hindrance in my job search. I have taken so many steps back in pay that is getting to the point of ridiculous but fortunate to have what I have. I have submitted numerous resumes with not so much as a phone call back.
So there you have, even by having a job the economy is making life a struggle.
I just want other people out there that have not gone through this experience to understand exactly what this does to a person’s mind, what it makes them feel like. It has changed me and in a way that I don’t feel has been all positive. I was one that would give a 100% to a company where ever I went…..now, I ask myself why? A company wants 2 weeks notice when you quit but that same respect is not given to the employee. These are peoples lives that companies are dealing with.
You might want to visit with my roommate who has been underemployed since Sept. 11, 2001. She moved to Kansas City from Chicago last week when she almost ended up homeless. She contacted me because of a petition I had posted online directed at the Prez and Congress on behalf of the jobless and I offered her room and board without even knowing her. I have been underemployed for 2 1/2 years after being laid off by Sprint. Yesterday, I started back to work at Sprint as a contractor. I have “rescued” about a half dozen jobless people (mostly strangers) in some small, medium or larger extent even though I am struggling and have downsized significantly. I used to rescue animals, now I rescue people and animals. I’m a Kansan. We are nice and help people AND it’s the right thing to do.