Thursday, January 8, 2009

Is this good news?

Finally, I thought to myself, as I glanced at the headline -- some good news.

Well, not so much, I realized as I read on.

The state is hiring people, opening offices and undergoing some expansion. The problem is though, that it is adding staff because officials at the state's employment division are overwhelmed by the number of jobless people trying to file unemployment claims or collect their money.

Unemployment hovers around 10 percent right now, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. We lost nearly 37,000 jobs in November alone -- second highest in the nation over that period, the BLS said. So many jobless folks are calling the state that lines are jamming up and people are getting those annoying "all circuits are busy" messages. Those are especially busy when you are frustrated person who isn't busy because you don't have anything to do. I've been one them.

I was talking to an unemployed friend today who, for months, has been seeking any type of work he could possibly land . I turned him on to a few little known Internet job resources and within an hour he had drafted four cover letters, tweaked accompanying resumes and submitted them online. I told him, only half joking, that he should start a service in which he submits applications for people. The reality though, is that his actions speak to the desperation of people in Michigan looking for jobs in a state where they are evaporating as fast as water in a region plagued by drought.

Every day I count my blessings, because I realize I am fortunate to be working in a state where the unemployment rate is the amongst the highest in the country. I know I could easily lose that job tomorrow, as a result of working in the nonprofit sector. But I take solace in the fact that I know God will provide for me and my family as long as my faith doesn't waver.

But that same job contributes to my anxiety, because in doing community service work I realize that the high rate of poverty that engulfs my community means I'm always going to be walking the same streets where people are struggling. That's because without better education and job skills -- oh yeah, and actual opportunities -- poor people will be unable to lift themselves out of their unfortunate circumstances.

I definitely didn't read any good news. Next to the story about the added jobs was one about a local school asking parents to donate toilet paper and light bulbs to help its students. Some type of learning environment, huh?

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