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No, I have no jokes for you today. I'm writing this because I'm not at work. Normally, into my third or fourth cup of coffee I'd be at my mid-morning peak productivity. However, three days ago I was laid off - for the third straight time in two years - and there is nowhere for all that productivity to go except into complaining. So here's a complaint.

The economy is hemorrhaging jobs. It hasn't added many new ones in this decade, and it definitely hasn't added enough to accommodate the entry of my generation - Generation Y - into the workforce en masse. I remember reading awhile back that we got about 8 million new jobs under Bush; compare with the 20 million new workers expected to arrive, many of them overqualified for what's on offering in this proud country.

I'm a struggling artist. I got expelled from the public school system and a counselor talked me into dropping out - it was their way of disposing with a problem student. I'd always had trouble with bullies, and with authority, and when wealthy schools across the country were forced by the Columbine disaster to reconsider their relationship with problem children, across the country bullies were spared and kids whose only crime was teen angst were kicked the fuck out. I'm over that, mostly, even though it made me feel defective at the time, triggered a depression that lasted for years, left my academic record too craterous for colleges, and so forth. I'm over it because at this point, the only course available is to try to make what I can with what I've got: brains, typing skills and writing talent. But I need a job, and I keep losing them!

In 2006, I checked the Occupational Outlook Guide and took its advice to get into medical administration. I went and got a certification and was placed with a company that folded six months later. Subsequent prospective employers wouldn't consider my CV, or reply to it at all. So, I called a temp agency and started working in IT as an outbound software trainer - but within two months, dire economic news started hitting the headlines and all the new hires were sent home. Six months later, I managed to land another job closing insurance claims for Hurricane Ike, but as I'm sure you can imagine, tightening belts forced them to move the emergency billing in-house again, so I got sent home along with about half the staff at my office. Today, I'm once again combing craigslist, submitting my CV wherever I can and not expecting much of a response.

In many ways, I'm lucky. I've been living on handouts from my family during the ludicrously long periods between those gigs! Many people don't even have the good fortune of that. But it's officially run out. That was supposed to be my college money, and it's gone now. (There's an aside here to be made about shame, but I'm trying not to think those thoughts.)

Barack Obama talks about restoring middle class families. Does he mean my parents? They're fine. My mom is head of language staff at a school, she's got seniority, experience and connections. My brother and I, though -- he's fresh out of college, and he's looking at a job market that apparently doesn't have the dollars to keep him clothed and housed. As for me, I'm two or three months from eviction at this rate. I have no degree, no prospects for getting one, and I can't seem to amass enough experience to make up for it because nobody I work for can keep their doors open!

We're probably looking at a microeconomic paradigm shift no matter what happens. Many of us - by which I mean: my friends and I - will probably be living six or eight to a house soon enough, and counting our blessings that we can. That's if things go well. In the short term, I'm looking at maybe spending some time on the street if someone doesn't toss me a lifeline or suggest a job that can remotely keep up with skyrocketing rent (in Austin, my hometown), car repairs, my debts, and my contractual indenture to the Sprint company.

The odds of holding on to where I am now worsen by the day. I can't move right away, as I have a friend and roommate (even closer to financial oblivion, with medical problems and no car) who'd have nowhere to go; I don't qualify for unemployment or any form of welfare; the temp agencies are saying they've got nothing that suits my skill set; and I've managed to save so little that every time I wash my two pairs of presentable clothes, it's a blow to my budget.

Anybody got any clever ideas? Even were I to assume, quite unreasonably, that the problems of the uneducated and jobless were somewhere near the top of Obama's list, there's no way he could add that much new shit to the economy in the time I've got left to live, so to speak. There must be a lot of us, though, right? Surely, mine can't be a unique dilemma. With a collective problem this big, we have to figure something out. Discussion is open.

Originally posted to The Sender @ DKos on Sat Nov 15, 2008 at 10:19 AM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  NAFTA, WTO to blame. We need to end this now. (6+ / 0-)

    "...America can change. Our union can be perfected." President-Elect Barack Obama

    by Jack Dublin on Sat Nov 15, 2008 at 10:20:52 AM PST

  •  How about the PeaceCorps? (6+ / 0-)

    So You Wanna Join the PeaceCorps

    I know you said you want to live in Austin, but if it's just two years away?

  •  Dude.. I have been there. (22+ / 0-)

    5 times in the past 16-17 years and 3 times in the last 4.

    My biggest suggestions:

    1 - Cut yourself some slack - this is the worst economy of our lifetime. It's gonna be brutal and that's not your fault.

    2 - depending on the overall financial stability of your town/city - consider some sort of delivery job in the best parts of town. It's better than unemployment.

    3 - What color is your Parachute is very motivational reading.

    4 - Hang the fuck in there.

    •  Best delivery job in a city... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dogemperor, MizC to get yourself bonded and do bicycle deliveries to the legal community, charge extra for courthouse copying. It can pay pretty well.

      Maybe people who live in glass houses shouldn't throw bibles.

      by Joy Busey on Sat Nov 15, 2008 at 11:15:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Law firms are laying off attorneys and staff (3+ / 0-)

        so the legal community isn't really thriving, either.  I don't want to be a wet blanket, but keep in mind that EVERY part of this economy is doing poorly.

        "Specialization is for insects." -- Heinlein

        by BachFan on Sat Nov 15, 2008 at 11:26:53 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  I hear you, BachFan. (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Odysseus, Joseph Hale, MizC

          But there will still be plenty of work for lawyers, and lots of paperwork that needs to go from here to there. People are still going to get arrested, and die, and file lawsuits over car wrecks and such.

          Getting into the community is the trick, making yourself and your services and reliability known. That's a lot of footwork (and printing fees) right there. Once you've got your first law firm and the clerk at the courthouse knows your name, you can 'inflate' that value from here to kingdom come. Because it's real.

          Plus, you'll get a lot of good exercise!

  •  Yep, twice in two years here. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    BachFan, Joseph Hale, MizC

    Hotel travel industry in San Diego at a crawl.

    •  Read my comment below... (11+ / 0-)

      A certain red-bussed tour company in San Diego was one of the companies that hired me as an "independent contractor" and skipped out on a $12,000 tab.  I was in the office when I heard the owner tell his bookkeeper not to pay the three Irish workers who had gone home after the summer because "they are out of the country now, what are they gonna do?  Tell them they can have their checks if they come pick them up, but we don't mail checks overseas."  That same CPA was stuck working for $8/hour, becuase he was a 64 year old Mexican citizen with every right to be in the US, but no good job prospects at his age.  The stories go on and on.  Be careful, even if they are the only company in the travel industry hiring...

  •  Some thoughts (21+ / 0-)

    All of which you've probably thought of but...

    1. Jobs at UT

    There have to be patient and med record jobs that will not require a degree. These jobs won't pay hugely, but University benefits are generally very good. Plus, once you're inside a university, assuming you do your job well, its typically pretty easy to move around.

    1. Register with Texas Workforce

    Most states, Texas included, have a jobs board as part of their unemployment agency/labor agency operations.

    1. Register with every temporary agency that has offices in Austin.

    A. Frontline Source Group - Temporary Staffing Agency - - (512) 328-5627 - more
    B. Career Consultants Staffing Services - - (512) 346-6660 - 7 reviews
    C. Austin Temporary Staffing Agency - Able Body Labor - - (512) 380-9675 - more
    D. Frontline Source Group - Temp Staffing Agency - - (512) 328-5627 - more
    E. Express Personnel Services - - (512) 416-6666 - more
    F. Today's Staffing - - (512) 451-6213 - 1 review
    G. Robert Half Finance and Accounting - - (512) 457-1175 - more
    H. Randstad - - (512) 481-8622 - more
    I. AppleOne Employment Services: South Austin - - (512) 458-0180 - more
    J. Trc Staffing Services - - (512) 306-9670 - more

    1. Confirm the situation with unemployment compensation

    Unemployment Insurance in Texas

    1. Look into rental assistance programs available in Texas

    Texas rental assistance programs

    1. Consider places that aren't obviously in your field, but provide pay:

    Borders Books
    Starbucks (offers medical insurance and benefits for part-timers, enabling you to spend the other part of work seeking a job)

    Situation sucks, no reason or way to sugarcoat it. Good luck!

  • will keep you in ramen noodles... (9+ / 0-)

    They pay 10 cents an answer to questions customers SMS in, and you can peak out around $4 an hour.

    For God's sake, don't let it interfere with looking for a real job, no matter how helpful that $4 an hour is.

    Good luck!  I lost job number three of the last five years, and still have eoutstanding salary and expense claims of $45,000 that employers don't feel obligated to pay.  Don't get suckered into a 1099 situation if you don't have to, there seems to be a cottage industry popping up where companies hire "Independent Contractors" then just decide not to pay them after the value has been sucked out of what you can offer.  If you have the money to pursue them in court, they swamp you with motions and appeals until it doesn't pay to fight anymore.

  •  jobs (7+ / 0-)

    Figure out a "niche" service that you can provide and advertise on craigs list. Example: I live near wine growing country.  I advertise to drive for people who want to go wine tasting and not worry about DUI's.

  •  wow! thanks for sharing... (8+ / 0-)

    I know it's bad out there. The first thing I might advocate (if you are interested) is start taking courses at community college. The reason I suggest this is that in order to take advantage of any economic upswing that might occur in the next four years (fingers crossed), you need to have a college degree.

    Community college is cheap and you can probably qualify for a pell grant since you've never been to college. Community college is your chance to redeem yourself, academically and you can start by taking english, math, and science classes (one at a time) and focus on getting at least Bs.

    While in community college, get involved service-learning activities. This is really big at CC and you can get exposure to all kinds of organizations and meet people who you can add to your network.

    Whatever you decide to do, don't beat yourself up about your life. This is all one great big learning experience and understand that in life-everything happens for a reason. Good luck.

    The "Freeway of Love" is paved with Democrats! We're goin' ridin' on the FREEWAY OF LOVE with "wind against our backs"!

    by tha puddin on Sat Nov 15, 2008 at 11:02:43 AM PST

  •  Key is going to be education for the job market. (7+ / 0-)

    Local community college will be key to getting a quick education that is focused on a job requirement of economy.

    For example, you could get a CNA certification in about 12 weeks.  Pay is about $15 an hour and it puts you in the health care industry where there are other opportunities if you get more education which the community college can provide.

    Go over to you local community college and talk to an adviser.

    •  Yep-totally agree... (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      dogemperor, Joy Busey, Joseph Hale, MizC

      In my area, CNA course at community college costs about $750 (although I live in rural VA, it may be more expensive in an urban area). You can also look at other health professions (nursing (LPN, RN), medical technician, respiratory technician, physical therapy assistant) but only if that interests you. There are many fields you will have exposure to should you take the CC route, so keep your options open and stay focused on your goals.

      The "Freeway of Love" is paved with Democrats! We're goin' ridin' on the FREEWAY OF LOVE with "wind against our backs"!

      by tha puddin on Sat Nov 15, 2008 at 11:12:50 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  lol, 15 bucks? Not around here. (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tmo, dogemperor, Joy Busey, Joseph Hale

      try the min. And twice as many patients as is possible to take adequate care of.
      But hey, it'd be a job.

  •  Where's Ross Perot when you need him? (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joy Busey, Joseph Hale

    I recall in '92 he may a big deal about people in your situation . . .

    of course, if he had been elected, who knows if he would have done anything to ease your plight?

  •  I sympathize. (9+ / 0-)

    There are a lot of us in trouble.  Good luck to us all.

    "The truth shall set you free - but first it'll piss you off." Gloria Steinem

    Iraq Moratorium

    by One Pissed Off Liberal on Sat Nov 15, 2008 at 11:16:37 AM PST

  •  More Thoughts (7+ / 0-)

    Two of these are repeats from my follow-up to my own earlier posting, but whatever..I figured I'd put them in again anyway.

    1. Get someone to review your resume for you, preferably if you can find this, someone who has worked in HR. We can tell you what hiring managers and HR folks are likely keying in on when they see it.
    1. You mention being an artist: consider a small volunteer effort at the Blanton Art Museum at UT

    Volunteering at Blanton

    Doing that could build helpful relationships for opportunities for other jobs in UT. The head of volunteer services and the head of docent services are going to have relationships with others at UT.

    I did look at the UT jobs board..there's stuff there that doesn't require a college degree.

    1. Stay physically active-whatever you like to do exercise-wise, keep doing it. Austin is great for running, if you do that, keep it up. Helps keep the head a bit clearer and helps keep you out of your own head more than is good.
    1. Debts--if this becomes or is becoming a problem, the best solution is sooner rather than later. Get in touch with non-profit consumer credit counseling to re-negotiate the terms of your payments. These folks know what they're doing. They're good.

    consumer credit counseling
    1106 Clayton Ln # 490
    Austin, TX 78723
    (512) 447-0711

  •  I have a 25 year old son (4+ / 0-)

    living in Pasadena CA who took a year and a half to complete 2 quarters of instruction at the LA Music Academy - worked part time off and on during that time, which looks absolutely horrible when he applies for a job. He is currently unemployed and  has spent the last year living off what savings he had left from working in his hometown from the time he was 12 years old. Good kid, but struggled horribly in K-12 school. Ended up getting his GED in the spring of the year that his class graduated from high school.
    I hate to make him move back home since we live in rural Montana, but helping him with the expense of staying in California is starting to look impossible too. Not sure what to do in this awful economic environment.

  •  Actually I think you gave up (4+ / 0-)

    too soon on medical administration.  I was out of work at 47 with daughters in and close to college.  Couldn't get a steady job for close to four years but I learned medical coding and worked for two pitiful billing companies while sending resumes to hospitals and making follow-up calls.  Finally got a job coding ER charts.  Every job after that, hospital and then physician groups, was a learning experience.  It's not a quick fix but really proficient and diligent medical billing expertise is not going to Bangalore.  Good luck.

    •  Do you have any suggestions (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      as to where I might find a billing company with entry level positions? As I said, I spent a couple of months looking for work in the field, and came away with the impression that my town is full of billers with 15+ years experience, all of whom are ahead of me in line for work. If you have any leads I might follow, though, please, I couldn't implore you enough to share them.

      •  As you know (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joseph Hale, Cassandra Waites

        there are a ton of folks who are "billers".  You have to differentiate your ability as with any competitive product.  Take a Medical Coding course at your junior college or vocational school.  A lot of your fellow students will be billers who are looking for a way to gain national accreditation.  The credential (CPC, CCS, CCS-P depending on the organization) is a must for hospital work.  Network with them.  They all have names of hiring people and knowledge of positions that are not published.  This is the hardest work you'll ever do but don't give up.  Eventually you will be an employee who can more than return your employer's investment in you.  Even in a sucky economy that's hard to beat.

      •  It's taken me (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joseph Hale

        5 years to find a job in medical coding in this rural Northern New York area.

        I took an online class in coding via the local State University, and did very well. But, the jobs are so limited up here. The only openings occur when people retire from them. Few ever seem to quit. And in one hospital, they kept hiring from within. The CFO demanded that they pick Nursing staff to become coders since they would have the knowledge base. The idiot. He was endorsing taking Nurses from an already under-staffed industry. Jeez.

        Anyway, I kiss the floor of the hospital where I work, every day when I get there. I drive 50 minutes each way, and we have been paying much higher than the national average on gas for years. I just completed my 3 month probation period and I haven't gotten fired yet, so I'm happy.

        Coding is a great field if you like the work, but I wasn't really prepared for the whole quota thing. I am miserably slow right now, and just keep pushing to get faster. I love ER coding the best, but am doing lab reqs, and radiology results, etc as well.

  •  You're gonna hate this suggestion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joseph Hale

    I'd guess this post is probably a flame waiting to happen, but here goes:

    Join the Army.

    Look, I'm recently retired military and I wouldn't recommend military service to my own kids right now.  However, you're clearly between a rock and a hard place and I don't think you can wait out the recession.

    If you haven't thoroughly fucked up your life with crap like drugs or petty criminal convictions (looking at your writing skills, I doubt either apply) then it is a lifeline off the streets.

    You have a passing chance at getting shipped to Iraq and promptly killed.  On the other hand, you might not.  You've got medical admin skills, writing skills, and a desire to succeed.  You could complete a GED, then cash in on OJT medical training and cap it off with GI Bill college funds.  Get out at the end of 6 years and jump back into the civilian health care industry a lot better armed than you currently are.

    I do concur with the Peace Corps / AmeriCorps suggestions already posted.

    Good luck, and keep us posted.

    •  If you take this advice (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Joseph Hale, carver

      and I don't recommend you do - join the Air Force or Navy.  MUCH safer than the Army or USMC.

    •  Drug issue would depend on what kind of test (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      they use. A hair test would catch stuff I did years ago, but apparently those are expensive. My concerns are two: one, I have a psychiatric record; two, I have asthma and am in pretty terrible shape. Would either of those be likely to stick me somewhere awful?

      To be honest, I've always been afraid that if I joined the Armed Forces, I'd wind up Private Pyle from the movie Full Metal Jacket. I mean, seriously - neurotic about bullies and authority, that's me. I'd be worried about killing someone.

      Who knows, though. This might be a good idea.

      •  A Hair follicle test should be clean (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Joseph Hale

        After abstaining for 90 to 120 days.

        If you want a friend in Washington, get a dog. - Harry S. Truman

        by paulitics on Sat Nov 15, 2008 at 01:17:19 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  It's good to see you are honest (0+ / 0-)

        A hair test would catch stuff I did years ago, but apparently those are expensive.

        I doubt anyone gives a crap about anything you did years ago.  The only test is urinalysis.

        My concerns are two: one, I have a psychiatric record; two, I have asthma and am in pretty terrible shape.

        I was a pudgy 18 year old when I joined, and couldn't run 1/4 mile.  However, the system is rigged to ensure you succeed.  I eventually came to enjoy running, and at age 42 I was beating the 20 year-olds in 4-5 mile "fun" runs.  Even at 170 lbs I always knew I was battling the inner fat guy, but I managed to keep him at bay for an entire career.

        The asthma may be an issue if it can't be controlled via exercise.  I'm not an expert on that issue.  However, I served with several asthmatics and even a couple of diabetics.  I developed sleep apnea in my mid thirties and remained in for several more years.

        To be honest, I've always been afraid that if I joined the Armed Forces, I'd wind up Private Pyle from the movie Full Metal Jacket. I mean, seriously - neurotic about bullies and authority, that's me. I'd be worried about killing someone.

        I understand.  I was pretty apprehensive to join myself.  You aren't going to bump into too many bullies because the demands of the job don't favor those kinds of punks.  Basic training is stressful, but remember--the system is rigged to ensure you succeed.

        Authority is a weird thing.  I came to realize that the military allowed me a degree of autonomy that civilian work life doesn't afford people.  By the time I was a mid-level NCO (about 26 years old) I was pretty much the acknowledged local expert in my field (aircraft avionics maintenance).  You don't get pushed around because the military wants and needs creative, independent thinkers.

        I will agree with other posters on this thread that the quality-of-life rank-order of the services are:

        1.  The USAF
        1.  The USCG
        1.  The US Navy
        1.  The US Army
        1.  The US Marines

        Now Marines, don't go hating on me here.  I'm talking about working conditions and physical demands.  I recommended the Army for a few reasons:

        1.  No high school diploma requirement
        1.  Short term of enlistment
        1.  Really awesome bonus package
        1.  Serious need for medical personnel

        Your best bet is to go talk to a recruiter from each service.  Don't be intimidated:  the recruiter is probably some 24 year old junior NCO who has more in common with you than you think.

        Also consider the National Guard and Reserves.  If you need people to bounce ideas off of, there's a pretty good military geezer community here on DKOS.  You'll get the bullshit-free scoop.  Good luck.

  •  I have a friend who is a HR director (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joseph Hale

    If you think it would help email your resume to me ( and I know she would be happy to give feedback to you.
    I wish I had a solution for you and everyone who is facing such hard times but I don't other than the idea to try to get more training/education.  

  •  Since you have a brain and can write... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joseph Hale, Cassandra Waites

    Go to the library and read every book you can on letter writing. Learn to write introduction letters, sales letters, HR letters, cover letters, etc. Then, write to locally owned businesses in your area (get a directory from the Chamber of Commerce) and offer your letter-writing services.

    Successful small business people are happy to pay for a good letter, because most of them cannot write or are afraid to write. You can write letters on your own time, you never need to meet your clients face to face, and all of your communication can happen by email. They never need to know how old you are, what your qualifications are, or if you have a degree; they just want a good letter.

    In addition, learn to write resumes and cover letters and offer those services (Craig's List?). A lot of people are going to need new resumes and cover letters over the next 12 months. There is no reason why you couldn't write some of them.

    As you begin to achieve some success, learn new communications skills, take your business online, and expand your reach.

    Basically, this is how I got started in marketing communications almost 20 years ago. I have no degree and was virtually unemployable when I started. Since then, I've served a broad variety of clients large and small, including the IRS and NIH.

    You can do it if you are:

    1. Resourceful and persistent
    1. Honest and helpful
    1. Nice

    Good luck.

    Just say, "Thanks, but no thanks," to John McCain's campaign to nowhere.

    by mdb on Sat Nov 15, 2008 at 02:16:01 PM PST

  •  WOOF program (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Joseph Hale

    You're young. The world is falling apart. Might as well learn to grow food. The WOOF program provides room and board in exchange for agricultural labor, at  small organic farms. There are placements available around the world. Check it out.

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