A new study of American workers displaced by the recession sheds light on the sacrifices a large number have made to find work. Many, it turns out, had to switch careers and significantly reduce their living standards.Anyone not REALLY sad after reading this doesn't have a heart.
“In many cases, these people are not very happy,” said Cliff Zukin, professor of public policy and political science at Rutgers University and one of the authors of the study. “They’re the winners who got new jobs, but they’re not really what they want, and not where they want to be.”
“Look, I am really happy to have a job — that’s the main thing,” said Sue Bires, 60, who was laid off from a job managing homeowners’ associations in Orlando, Fla., in September 2008. She initially had another job lined up with a different realty association in Orlando, but when that fell through, she moved to Austin, Tex., to stay with a friend. She filed for bankruptcy and took a job at a call center.
But she now earns $30,000, far below the $45,000 she was paid when she was managing properties.
Many of those who found work in a different field say they have come to terms with the limited opportunities, but they are reluctant to see their new job as a calling.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’ve switched careers, since I’m not exactly sure this is a career, but I’m definitely doing something different,” said Adam Kowal, 30, of Royal Oak, Mich.
After being laid off from a job as a quality control supervisor at a department store warehouse and losing his house, he moved his family across the state to live with his mother. Unable to find similar work, he initially took a “soul-sucking” temporary job on an assembly line making auto parts, and is now working in a kitchen at a high school.
His hourly wage has fallen from $15 an hour at the warehouse to $10.50 an hour washing dishes and preparing food, and he has gone from having health insurance coverage for his whole family to no benefits. He, his pregnant wife and their 4-year-old son are now on Medicaid.
“I’d love to go back to what I was doing,” he said, or even into what he described as his true passion, full-time screenwriting. “But when I talk with the unemployment office here in Michigan, they tell me the chances of going back and using the same skill set I had before are pretty farfetched.
Saturday, January 1, 2011
Declining Middle Class
I've been saying for years now that we have entered a 'new normal' economically in our country, and that living standards will continue to drop for most people, either through unemployment, loss of benefits, or inflation. Here's one example of the way that happens: