Long Term Unemployment In My Family
In the last 2 years, my dad has worked about 6-7 months. After 30+ years in the field, for the first time in his life, my dad been collecting unemployment.
As a personal finances blogger, it is kind of surprising I haven’t talked about this yet, but at the same time, I’m protective of my family and I am not interested in having strangers judge them. (S0, please don’t.)
My dad is an electrician, mostly within the construction industry, which you might have heard is experiencing unemployment levels of 25% or more, triple the overall employment rate. He’s willing to travel to work. The last two jobs he had were both about 4 hours from our hometown (where my mom lived without him), and he stayed with relatives while he worked. But he’s willing to travel farther – to Alaska, to California, to Vegas… wherever they need him. The trouble is, if you are coming in as a traveler, you get in line behind the local people, and it is a long line right now.
When he’s had work, he worked hard: 6-7 days a week, 10 hours or more a day. This also means that he’s earned wages much more than 6-7 months worth, which certainly helps things. But eventually, the jobs ended, and he’s back to waiting, to looking.
Since things really have not improving, he’s naturally looking at his long term options. He could go back into contracting for himself. He thinks their will be work in a certain region/area long term (but there isn’t right now), so he could wait for that to start up. He is looking into getting his commercial drivers license to make him eligible for specific electrical jobs which require it. He’s talked about being a lineman, even though that is typically done by people with less experience, it pays well enough. He has taken a couple classes and picked up certifications here and there. Something totally outside the field is undesirable at this point, and what should he be studying anyway? Where are those booming industries? He has roughly 10 years left before he can consider retirement, and while he never expected to be facing these kinds of decisions, he is.
My parents as a unit are doing ok. My mom is working full time, the house is close to paid off, and they seem to be making it through. I think they would be fine on her salary alone. But still. It makes me sad that as they approach their golden years and us kids have gotten out of their hair, things haven’t necessarily gotten easier. I have hope they will get better, but this recession has definitely hit them hard.
I don’t know what else to say about this, but I just wanted to share. It makes me mad when people say that unemployment compensation gives workers less incentive to seek work. Or that they just don’t want to work hard. Or that they just want a job exactly like the one they were let go from. Maybe that is true in some cases, but every unemployed person I’ve talked to would much much rather be working.