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cross-posted from Progressive Junction

In November of 2008, approximately 10.3 million people in the U.S. were unemployed according to the Department of Labor.  This number is more than the entire population of Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Montana, New Hampshire, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wyoming combined.  However, the number does not include another 6 million or so people who are underemployed, nor does it include recent college grads who cannot find work but cannot file for unemployment due to not having worked. Needless to say the American job market is in dire straits and getting worse.

A week ago, this was a minor issue for me personally.  Sure I care about the unemployment rate and the economy as a whole, but like a good progressive, I also care about peace, and the environment, I care about civil liberties like gay marriage and abortion rights, and I especially care about the corruption and down right ignorance of the right wing and how their ideology has ruined this country for eight long years.
 
But that was last week.

On the 23rd of December, I was fired from my job for incompetence.  I was (still am?) a poker dealer in Florida.  Throughout my career, I never thought of myself as incompetent or even sub-par.  In fact, I felt as though I was one of the best dealers in the poker room I worked at and this sentiment was shared by quite a few of my co-workers as well as a majority of the management.  But a sequence of unfortunate events led to my firing.  The details of the circumstances are complex and technical so I won't elaborate on them.  I will only say that I did make mistakes, they were small and inconsequential mistakes that would be allowed to slide had they happened in alternative circumstances, say in another poker room or even to another person in the same poker room.  

The fact of the matter is, in any industry or profession or job, if the boss likes someone personally, that person is allowed a lot more leeway, and if not, that person is given very little room for error.  I was unfortunately the latter.  

In addition, another poker room in my city was bought and the entire senior management immediately fired.  Our manager began hiring some of these people (who happen to be his old friends) as dealers, even though we were already way over-staffed.  This action put everyone on edge since it was inevitable that some people would have to be let go to make room for the boss's friends.  I was a casualty of that cause.  Needless to say, always going to work nervous and worried about keeping your job is quite an annoying feeling and one that I'm glad is gone.  It's the only bright spot in losing my job.

So yesterday I did something I never thought I would do, I filed for unemployment benefits.  This is not the first time I've been unemployed in my life, but it is the first time that I am worried about my prospects enough to file for benefits.  The other poker room that was bought was going down fast, and the industry in general has been regressing here for the last few months.  That is an especially harrowing sign for an industry that usually thrives during economic down turns, and in a state which has only recently allowed the industry to expand and truly flourish.  My prospects at this point are grim, since my entire work experience is confined to three industries: the gaming industry, the mortgage industry, and the restaurant industry.

But this is not a boo-hoo cry for me entry.  I've had the best year of my life (thanks in a large part to Barack Obama).  I realize that I'm still one of the lucky ones.  I was able to save a little bit of a nest egg which coupled with unemployment benefits afford me two or three months of time to find a job before I have to take seriously drastic measures like losing my car or my condo.  There are people out there, maybe even reading this, that are in much worse shape than I am, who've already lost everything and who have little hope.  

For those of you in this situation, the more than 10.3 million that I have now joined, I'm writing to let you know I've retained my hope and I hope that you retain yours.  The success of the Obama campaign taught me that hope changes everything.  Maybe the investment of our time and money to Obama will pay off with a slew of new jobs, and maybe we will be fortunate enough to get those jobs.  Maybe we'll end up making less, but I hope we get jobs that pay more.  One thing is for sure, without hope none of this would have been possible and we would be in much worse shape than we are now.  Without hope this entry and even this website would not exist. Without hope, Barack Obama would not be our president.  

Hope changes everything.

Originally posted to Sand in Florida on Sat Dec 27, 2008 at 06:10 PM PST.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Welcome to the Jungle, my friend. (11+ / 0-)

    I dunno what I'm going to do. The only way out is through, I guess..

    Does anyone know how the PNW is faring as compared to the South? I'd love an excuse to get back out that way.

    Ready to go, y'all. -4.48, -4.56

    by pseudopod on Sat Dec 27, 2008 at 06:22:52 PM PST

  •  Bad beat (16+ / 0-)

    In the game of life this economy is the rake. Despite a college degree I have been losing to two outers for over a year, currently maning a register for 8 bucks an hour.

  •  Fired for incompetence? (15+ / 0-)

    The scumbags will try to avoid having you receive unemployment benefits, then.  It may take a lot more effort than if you were laid off.  

    I worked for a company in which, if they wanted to reduce the number of employees, a manager would just fill up the HR file with complaints.  Five minutes late from a lunch break could get you written up.  Enough complaints, and they would fire "for cause".  It didn't happen to me, but others never got unemployment because by the time they had appealed and re-appealed, they had found a new job.   Three months later.  Companies HATE having unemployment claims.  Cuts in on the bottom line.

    Good luck!  And don't let them get you down.

    I hope you find new work quickly.

  •  It is a month to month thing for me (15+ / 0-)

    Every month that the rent gets paid it seems heaven sent.  Then comes the worry about the next month.  Thirty days of fitful sleep and pacing.  Two years grossly underemployed.  We are very close to having to live in a tent.

    "When you look for the bad in mankind expecting to find it, you surely will." --Abraham Lincoln

    by winter outhouse on Sat Dec 27, 2008 at 06:49:53 PM PST

  •  Welcome to the club. (11+ / 0-)

    my hubby and I both are not working right now. We have over 11 percent in our area and Chrysler just got laid off here in the Rockford, Il area.
    And with such lousy prospects and the fact that for the last two decades our economy here has been mostly based on shopping.
    So, add all the stores that will go under and retail employees on the streets soon.
    We use to be a manufacturing hub with furniture being our claim to fame, went to tool and die and then shopping.  Unless you are a doctor or lawyer.
    That's our economic base now.
    In 82 we had 25 percent and I expect to see those kind of numbers here in the next year.
    Our economy was built on the same fluff that so many other ones are in the US to supplant all the manufacturing that went overseas.

  •  Hey Sand--I noticed on your PJ bio... (10+ / 0-)

    ...that you're in St. Pete. Have you considered coming over to this side of the bay (Tampa area) for work? Hard Rock's just added blackjack tables, so I'm guessing they're hiring more dealers.

    My husband and I have a friend who deals for a free Hold'Em poker club (the kind where you play in Cherry's tournament-style for chips); if you want me to put you in touch with him, let me know. My email addy is mandjkenoyer AT yahoo DOT com :)

    The media image of a "center-right" U.S. is a myth and a joke.

    by boofdah on Sat Dec 27, 2008 at 07:15:45 PM PST

  •  Maybe The Stimulus Package Can Build Some (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    third Party please, Wary

    Casinos across the country.

  •  Best of luck to you (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, Lujane

    I'll keep you in my prayers. Sounds like you were really together keeping a savings and all, good for you. Let us know when you find employment, ok? We do care.

    This union may never be perfect, but generation after generation has shown that it can always be perfected. Barak Obama

    by Wary on Sat Dec 27, 2008 at 07:54:42 PM PST

  •  If you are self employed (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Lujane, gsenski

    you are never unemployed.

    Not everyone can do it.  I feel exceedingly lucky.  But it's nice not to have to depend on the goodwill of anyone else for a living.

  •  I was laid off for 2 weeks over the holidays (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, mcartri, Youffraita

    but I'm supposed to go back to work Jan 5th. So I picked employed but worried about my job security.

    I guess I could have just as easily picked unemployed because things don't look very promising in the short term at my work and I could be (make that very likely) out of work again real quick.

  •  I wish you the best, and quickly. (5+ / 0-)

    I was able to check 'employed but worried' because I finally landed a job in October after being laid off in February. I had two weeks of unemployment left (thanks to the extension). It's kind of a lousy job, one I never would have accepted five years ago, but every morning I wake up grateful to have it. After what happened to me last winter, at my age, I don't know if I'll ever feel secure again.

  •  employment without livable wages (7+ / 0-)

    is slavery....

    and that is what this country has been offering its workers for at least 40 years....

    enough already....

  •  Sorry that you've lost your job (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    DaleA, Youffraita, Bene Gesserit1

    I've been in the same position myself. Back in March of 2006 the company that I worked for laid me off when the "client chose not to renew the contract". I remember my 2nd level supervisor (my 1st level supervisor had gone on vacation the week before) calling me into a meeting late on a Wednesday afternoon in the middle of March. I walked in and he was there with his supervisor and the director of HR. They all explained that the client had not renewed the contract; and, with no other contract suitable for my skillset, it would be better "if I sought employment elsewhere". They gave me a month's worth of severance and I didn't find another job in my field until February of 2007.

    Leading up to my layoff I knew that the position wasn't working out for me. To be honest, when I first interview, something about the company didn't seem right. When they literally provided me with the offer that I couldn't refuse I took the job because the salary was twice as much as I was making at my previous position. Anyway, once I got there in late October of 2005, I knew that I had made a horrible choice.

    This company made me work nine hour days. We also had to participate in internal trainings that were "on our own time". Thus, we had to work longer on those days that those trainings took place. I had the supervisor from hell. She was a complete bitch. She was very unwilling to work with me or help me with anything.

    Toward the end I knew that the fix was in because my supervisors started asking me to do impossible tasks. One time I remember my boss asking me to write a one page summary about major changes for our client orally, only to tell me via email that he wanted a ten page document. Another supervisor asked me to convert a document into a different form and he took it a client, not telling me that. I ended up being yelled at. Later they started asking me to document how I was spending each hour of my day. I remember one time where that bitch also asked me to print out documents so that she could show them to the company president. I knew that I was going to be laid off. I felt very helpless, but I had to stay so that I could receive unemployment.

    Anyway, after they laid me off, the first few days, I felt relief. It was good to finally be out of that job. While part of me was hurt and sad the day that they laid me off, the other part of me was glad that my time there was over. After I took a week or two to heal and apply for unemployment, I began sending out resumes. I was hoping to get new a job soon.

    Interview after interview followed and no one hired me. I attended job fair after job fair, which never translated into anything concrete. I remember contacting HR recruiters who never called me back. At other times companies would call me into interviews, getting my hopes up, only to email me afterward or call stating that "they hired the other candidate" or that "they chose to go in a different direction". It was very devastating.

    (During this period I also noticed interesting trends with job announcements. Many companies seemed to have the same open position available for weeks and months at a time. Other times they would remove the ad, only to repost it a few weeks later. I wondered why those positions were always open. I finally figured out that there was no job necessarily available or they were perhaps collecting resumes for a time when they would be hiring. I also thought that they may be posting the ad to the public, when their clear intention was to hire internally.)

    When the spring turned into summer I started to feel depressed. Seasons of Oprah, Dr. Phil, and daytime TV would unfold. I literally went through an entire season of Dr. Phil after a month or two.
    Unemployment was coming in, but I was accruing thousands of dollars every month to meet my basic living expenses.

    In September 2006, after waiting three months for this company that I thought that my resume was a perfect match for, I hit bottom when "they hired the other candidate". With my unemployment about to run out I had to start taking any work that I could find. I ended up having to work for a temp agency for $12 an hour performing administrative work. It sucked because it was work for which I was overqualified.

    Eventually, in January of 2007, I received an offer to work at firm in my field. I started in February of 2007, but it had been a long year. I eventually found a job with the government. But I can relate to being out of work. What was worse was the sense of helplessness, hopelessness, and futility that I felt the entire time. I eventually tired of responding to ads because I thought it was pointless.

    The financial wreckage is still with me. It's going to take me 5-10 years to repay the debts that I accrued. It will be a long time before I can afford to own my own condo. During that time it also sucked because all of my friends seemed to have great jobs and "were going places in their career", while no one would hire me. It just sucked.

    So my prayers are with you. Being unemployed is just the pits.

  •  Working temp here (0+ / 0-)

    It can be interesting, and pays 15 to 18 per hour for skilled accounting. But the jobs have dried up in the last year. Before then, never had more than 2 weeks between gigs. And the gigs would last for months. And there are now interviews for the contract/temp position.

    Moving around, what amazes me is how companies are letting their accounting departments go downhill. An AccountsPayable department was 3 years behind on assembling packets, which document the invoices that have actually been paid. The strangest was a hospital whose AP was under orders not to hire or contract. During a maternity leave, they feel so far behind, they lost hundreds of thousands in discounts. On the basic major suppliers alone, they were missing out on 20 to 30 thousand a day, every day. Plus suppliers were cutting them off. It was a daily scenario of emergency check cutting and phone dealing. The suppliers were doing what looked like phantom billing, which means they were paid for things never supplied.

    The only reason I can come up with for the backlog in AP is to set up a situation where there can not be an audit. No records, no audit. But the auditors should then demand a major restaffing of the department, which does not seem to be happening. There is something really wrong with our financial system, and accounting is enabling it.

    •  I remember what it was like to be a temp (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mcartri

      It sucked. I never knew whether they would have me the next day or not. Some of the other assignments just sucked. What was most annoying is that people were nice to me, only to call the agency to tell me NOT to come back the next day. That didn't happen often, but I had to deal with it.

  •  I'm a carpenter, by trade and training, and while (0+ / 0-)

    I've never been fired, I was laid off one time when they were hiring like crazy.

    In hindsight I guess that sleeping with the boss's wife was the wrong decision.

    That stuff happens when you're use to nailing everything in sight....

    Hey, Harry Reid! joe lieberman said you and all other Democrats can KISS HIS ASS!

    by 0hio on Sat Dec 27, 2008 at 11:56:11 PM PST

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