Much has been made about America's recent positive job growth and shrinking unemployment rate, all pointing to signs of a slow, but steady economic recovery. However, the so-called "recovery" continues to pass so many Americans by, including this gentleman from Rhode Island, Brian Perry, recently profiled in this Los Angeles Times article:
By his count, Perry has applied for more than 1,300 openings and has had some 30 interviews, the last one a good two years ago. With his savings running dry, this summer he put up for sale his one asset — a three-bedroom house his parents used to own in this suburb of Providence.
"I'm not looking for pity, just one last opportunity," said Perry, a boyish-looking man with bright blue eyes and a nasal New England brogue.
Mr. Perry is not just among the long-term unemployed, he's among the portion of the population called the "super long-term unemployed" - people who have been out of work for more than two years. The article states that Labor Department figures show about a third of the long-term unemployed have been in this situation that long, and a minority - 100,000 - have been out of work for five years or longer. This is disastrous, especially for a country that prides itself as "the land of opportunity" and upward mobility.
I can certainly relate to Mr. Perry's plight. Nearly 10 years ago, I left a job as a newspaper reporter in central California because of health and other reasons, and moved back home to Los Angeles. Since then, I've only worked part-time jobs or volunteered, until earlier this year, when I got my first full time job in nearly a decade. That was a job working on a political campaign, and unfortunately, it lasted only four months, because the candidate did not make the general election. So, I'm back sending out resumes. Despite three degrees, I've gotten mostly rejections or silence from potential employers, even for civil service jobs.
The fact is, the United States is not producing enough good-paying jobs with benefits for everyone who wants one. The unemployment rate where I live, Los Angeles County, is still a relatively high 8.1%. So, I've felt locked out of this economy for years. And it's very hard to get excited by "good numbers" jobs stories when you're on the outside looking in.