My Unemployed Life: Is There Any Light At The End Of This Tunnel?

umemployed life

The unemployment rate dropped from 8.3 percent to 8.1 percent. Whoopee!

My good cheer is sarcastic because the reason it dropped is nothing to celebrate. Quite the opposite: The unemployment rate only came down, according to today's Bureau of Labor Statistics report, because 368,000 people who'd been looking for jobs stopped looking. Lost hope. Quit the search in despair.

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Because of this, the labor force participation rate dropped from 63.7 percent in July to 63.5 percent in August. This is the lowest participation rate since September 1981.

I read that as saying: If the labor force participation rate today were the same as it was in December 2007, when the recession began, and those additional people seeking work were counted as unemployed, then the August unemployment rate would be 11.6 percent, not 8.1 percent. In other good news, the job creation figures for June and July were both revised -- downward.

The numbers of unemployed, underemployed and "marginally attached" workers in August are roughly the same as in July -- a total of 23.1 people. Five million people are counted as long-term unemployed (unemployed for 27 weeks or longer). This is 40 percent of the total number of unemployed (12.5 million).

I suppose I'm getting more stubborn in my "maturity," but I have no intention of giving up looking for full-time employment, especially when the end result, a lower unemployment rate, creates the false impression that things are getting better. We all know that when people who don't read beyond the headlines see "unemployment rate down," they think, "Great, that's an improvement!"

I refuse to become one of those unemployed people who is so discouraged that I give up.

So is there any light at the end of this tunnel, after over 3½ years of unemployment at 8 percent or higher?

Last night, President Obama told us that his economic recovery plan "may be harder, but it leads to a better place."

I have a few questions for him. What place might that be? Better for whom? And how much longer do we unemployed have to wait to arrive there?

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Fran Hopkins


Fran Hopkins is a lifelong NJ resident and Baby Boomer who’s been searching for full-time work since losing her job in a January 2010 layoff.  While “between jobs,” she’s earned an MS degree in Health Communication, does freelance writing and public relations, and is actively involved in the NJ chapter of the Association for Women in Communications.  Her household includes a college-age son and an assortment of pets.

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