My mother just lost her job. For me she is now the face of those unemployment numbers we hear every few weeks. The United States Bureau of Labor has reported that in February 2009, the unemployment rate had reached an alarming 8.1 percent nationally.
Ten years ago when my mom started working at a construction company as an accounting clerk, the unemployment rate was 4.4 percent in February. At no time in the last 10 years had the rate risen as high as 7 percent.
For my mom like many Americans, life without a job is not something she planned until retirement age.
Twenty years from retirement, she was booted out of her job of 10 years to be replaced by someone much younger who would work for less.
The past six months have been difficult in the job search for her and for us.
The unemployment checks were only supposed to be a temporary solution.
She had gotten a great opportunity to work in a company temporarily aiding them in the transition of switching to a new program they would be using from now on. It was a risk to take the job in an economic downturn like this, but just like I was always taught, working is always the better option.
It was also a risk as well because her father had been sick for a couple of months and the doctors warned the family he didn’t have much time left.
Unfortunately, after two months of work his condition worsened and we knew it would only be a couple of more days. Living 150 miles away, my mom took off of work after notifying them of her situation and stayed with him until he died on Feb. 8.
Upon her return to work, she received notice that she was fired without a courtesy phone call for the whole week that she was away. Because of this, unemployment checks are no longer an option for my single mom and us. With no income coming in, we have to start using food stamps.
As strange as it sounds, I’m not ashamed of the fact that my family will have to start using food stamps. Working at a dollar store, I’ve noticed that there are so many unemployed Americans who are stuck in this growing percentile and have no other option besides to keep trying.
Just a year ago if you asked my opinion on food stamps, my answer would be completely different. I would never admit to you, a whole college community, that my family has to go on welfare and receive food stamps. But, with this horrible economy it’s becoming ever more present in families with college students. As our parents get older, they find that companies just get rid of them from their jobs. Especially hard pressed are one-income families in which the single parent now has the responsibility of paying for their health insurance, taxes, college tuition and other unexpected expenses that plague us all are starting to see the worst of a harsh economy.
Historically, economic downturns have become expected every now and then. But this one, now 8 percent, was seen coming but I don’t think anybody expected it to be this bad.
We weren’t victims of the dwindling economy, but I feel as if we are now. However, my family and those who have lost jobs during this downturn, will not give up the fight to find a new job and eventually support ourselves once again.