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28 June 2012

Waiting for Change?

The following is a guest blog from Dr. Christina McCale, an author, a doctor and perhaps most of all... a person.
   -- Sir Bacon
There are many moments that are etched in the memories of most adults.
Birth of a child.
Your wedding day.
Buying your first house.
But unfortunately for more than 12 million Americans, some of whom read this blog and share their stories here, another day that remains etched in our minds is the day our professional lives were upended. The day that part of our very identities were taken from us.
It was the day that our jobs were taken from us.
And unfortunately, for some 5.4 million  of those, one of the largest “segments” of the unemployed population are those who have been living the nightmare of unemployment for more than 6 months.
My own personal descent into the living hell called unemployment started in the Spring of 2009 when I was passed over for not one but three different professorial jobs; jobs that I had spent nearly a decade networking to get, preparing for, and culminating volumes of good teaching evaluations, article publications, text book involvement, and conference presentations. I was recognized as one of the most published researchers in my field. I was recruited to launch a national journal.
But in the end, none of that mattered.
The “why” I didn’t get any of the positions I had so long networked for, and ended up unemployment is less important than the actual fact of the matter: I was now unemployed. And despite any number of attempts to “pull myself up by my bootstraps” I failed.
I wouldn’t fit the model any news organization would report as a “typical” unemployed American. For good and bad, I have an above average education: I have a bachelors and masters from a well-known, private Pacific Northwest university; I had done graduate studies at a top tier state school; and I held a doctorate in a highly desirable profession that I had specifically gone back to school to get a doctorate at the urging of several department chairs. These hiring managers had indicated that my talent for teaching, and my lengthy corporate marketing experience would make me a shoe-in to teach almost anywhere I chose.
All those facts added up to not an inordinate amount of student loan debt, but in return, seemingly having the credentials to join one of our most revered professions: that of professor, academic, teacher.
But then the economy cratered.
Then the housing crisis exploded.
And then the financial markets dissolved into chaos.
State and local governments’ budgets came under fire, laying off previously unimaginable positions that had always been considered sacrosanct: police officers, firemen, and teachers. Professorial openings went unfilled; retirement eligible employees hung on by their fingernails, delaying retirement in order to allow the markets, and ultimately their retirement funds, time to bounce back. When professors did retire, they were not replaced.
And then things got really bad.
In the Fall of 2011, l put my decade’s worth of training to work, and began documenting the plight of the unemployed, pulling together the data, media observations, and interviews to profile the one in two Americans who were now “the new poor:” those who had fallen quickly and harshly into the state of poverty despite previous training, education or work history.
But as I wrote, I found my own story creeping into the narrative because too many people I tried to interview could not bring themselves to bare their souls, their hurts or their “failings” for the book.
This approach isn’t new: Authors like Barbara Ehrenreich (Nickel and Dimed, Bait and Switch),  Jonathan Kozol, author of Shame of the Nation, Eric Schlosser of Fast Food Nation, and even documentarian Morgan Spurlock of Supersize Me. have long documented situations, to include their own role and impressions of the situation, which indicate a larger, potentially systemic issue at hand.
I was reminded of the stories from our grandparents and the Great Recession that we all probably grew up on. As so in light of these memories, I put myself to work, writing the book “Waiting for Change:  Impacts on life, family, work and the new 99% reality.”  This book, then, centers on five key areas of the human experience – housing, sustenance, employment, children, and our social support systems -- exploring how these areas of one’s life can be so drastically impacted – irrevocably altered – by job loss and the continuing drag of the Great Recession we’ve all experienced in a myriad of different ways.
I’d love to hear how closely these stories ring true for all of you.

Over the course of a decade, Dr. Christina McCale has been a marketing professor at a variety of public and private universities, the author of research studies, proceedings, conference presentations and books, including Waiting For Change, which discusses the economic realities the 99% experience during the Great Recession also found at her blog  Dr. McCale continues to write research and write while actively looking to return to her love of teaching the classroom or virtual environment with college students.

07 March 2012

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26 January 2012

Swift And Decisive

The following is a guest blog from Lillian Swift, a writer from Northern Arizona University.
    -- Sir Bacon
Unemployment Benefits continue to be major issue in 2012
So many different families and individuals across the United States have been stricken with the perils of unemployment over the past few years. Aside from just the bottom line of losing money that provides, families have also been stricken with the perils of losing their benefits. This is when many turn to unemployment benefits to help get them through the tough times. With people facing long stretches of unemployment, many individuals have been forced to take a fight to the courts to battle for their unemployment benefits. 
Capitol Hill will soon be facing a decision regarding a proposed extension of unemployment benefits. An alteration would certainly be welcome to the many who struggle looking for a new position during these tough economic times. However, until the people in Washington can make moves on the item, there will continue to be more battles over unemployment benefits leaking into the court room. 
Just recently, an Illinois woman who was once fired for working through her lunch break was forced to go into a court battle with her former company over unemployment benefits. Sharon Smiley had worked for a realty company and they had decided to challenge her benefits after letting her go from her position. She was awarded the win in a court battle over her former company who challenged those benefits. Although she won the battle and is now employed full time elsewhere, there are many others out there who haven’t experienced the same fortunes. 
In Florida, this has become a major topic of conversation while politicians out of Tallahassee continue to propose cuts and more requirements to unemployment benefits, as well as the state’s Medicaid program. Recent rallies in Central Florida brought together citizens to help build awareness of the potential pitfalls that many unemployed Floridians could face. Their efforts were backed by representatives from Orlando Abogado practices, local fireman chairs and others from local employment agencies. 
As a recent college graduate, the job market has been tough on me as well as my peers. Many have been forced to settle for part time positions in the meantime and some haven’t even been lucky enough find any work. For myself, I am currently taking on the unknown waters of looking for full-time employment. Although daunting, I try and keep a positive mood going into every application and search. Even with a positive mindset for many recent graduates, it can be hard to maintain when things don’t go your way. Unemployment benefits to me are often a necessity. I’ve seen family members who’ve worked their entire life get them out of necessity and not out of a lack of hard work at all. 
Young adults who’ve lost their positions have also faced the tough decision of whether to apply for employment benefits. Of course, this is a tough choice for many of those who have been laid off or let go from their jobs. For people who’ve been working for years, this decision can be highly unwelcomed. 
On one hand, many longtime workers need to provide, possibly not only for themselves, but for a family or others. This certainly can seem like an easy decision, but some just don’t have the mindset to use these benefits, as they’ve been raised to believe that every dollar must be earned. This decision is different for the younger adults who may have been let go, as some of their choices may be based on perception and reputation. 
My father was faced with an interesting quandary in the past few years when let go for the second time within three years. On one hand, he had been in the military for 20 years, retired and worked for over 15 years following that, so he knew nothing different. He took the unemployment benefits, which helped him out for a few months in between jobs, something he is thankful for as he gets settled into a new sales job right now. The point is that, although taking on unemployment benefits remains a tough choice for some, for most it might be a necessity. 
The win for the Chicago woman who was fired for working through her lunch is a major stepping stone for those involved with the importance of unemployment benefits. There have been few times in history when unemployment has been affected as it has in the past few years here in the United States. Unemployment benefits have been and will continue to be an important factor in helping to support the citizens of the country as they look to get back on their feet during tough times. 
Impending action from Washington to extend unemployment benefits nationally could be viewed as both a gift and a curse, but it’s important to remember that help like that cannot be replicated elsewhere. In most cases, extending unemployment benefits would certainly do much more good than harm for the people of the United States. 

Lillian Swift is an aspiring writer who specializes in writing about community issues.
If you would like to write a guest blog, please contact me at

For My Journey Through Unemployment: