An article in the Denver Post this morning — Minority leaders call for response to racial disparity in unemployment rate — got me thinking about the times I’ve been unemployed. I don’t think there was ever a time when I wasn’t working. There were just times when I wasn’t getting paid for the work I was doing.
Times of unemployment are opportunities to learn new skills or improve on existing ones. When the economy is in a slump, those are good times to go back to school. While college is expensive, there are grants and scholarships that can help pay tuition. And a college degree is an investment will almost always yield positive returns.
I was talking to an unemployed young man a few days ago who asked me if I had any work that he could do. He complained that there were no jobs out there. I am looking for help, but as an owner of a small business, I can’t just hire people for the hell of it. I needed highly skilled people and he didn’t have any marketable skills. So I just wished him luck. Luck is the only thing that is going to get an unskilled person a job in this economy. People with marketable skills can find work if they try hard enough.
But back to the Denver Post article…
“The times require that the federal government step in and provide temporary employment opportunities,” said Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, D-Mo., chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus’ jobs task force. “Not Social Security payments, not one-time checks, but jobs where people get up in the morning and go to work.”
It’s that kind of attitude that gives government a bad name. The government can’t and shouldn’t just create jobs out of thin air. There is work that needs to be performed by the government, but most work is done by private companies. Most government projects use private companies to do the actual work.
“We can’t just go back to the economy of three to four years ago when African-Americans suffered perennial unemployment rates that were consistently twice that of whites,” said Ben Jealous, chief executive of the NAACP.
Why has black unemployment been so much higher than that of whites? One of the main reasons is education. Especially in this information age, unless you have a college degree, you’re probably not going to be able to find a decent paying job, if you can find one at all. And there’s a huge disparity between whites and blacks when it comes to higher education.
Westminster resident Sydney Hobbs, who is black, lost his job working at a Goodwill warehouse in November. He has put out several dozen resumes for warehouse jobs and electrician apprenticeships but hasn’t gotten any responses. In recent weeks, he visited the Denver Workforce Center on Speer Boulevard downtown, which helps people search for jobs.
“Companies aren’t hiring, but they say, ‘Send in a resume,’ ” said Hobbs, 50, who is married with two children. “Hopefully, things will get better soon.”
Hobbs is considering renewing his lapsed commercial driver’s license and looking for work driving a delivery truck. He’s worried about losing his family’s apartment.
Hobbs is just “considering” renewing his commercial driver’s license? What the hell is he waiting for? To find work, you have to be proactive. You have to make your own luck, which means getting marketable skills, going to school, learning a trade, finding out what skills are in demand…
“We are calling for the government to create jobs for Latinos, but the policies enacted so far have not done enough to help these workers,” Janet Murgía, chief executive of the National Council of La Raza, said during a teleconference on Friday.
If you go into almost any motor vehicle bureau in the Denver area, you’d be hard pressed to find a white person working there. The government often uses affirmative action hiring to help minorities, as do many large corporations that receive government contracts. There is also financial aid available to minorities that are not dependent on income, meaning middle class blacks or Hispanics can get financial aid not available to poor whites.
“It’s a really hard economy and really hard market right now,” said Smith-Duran, who has a master’s degree in social work. “I was in tears for a bit after losing that job, but I was able to regroup and go on.”
A master’s degree in social work? Basically, that’s a degree to help poor people, and there’s not a whole lot of money or career opportunities in that field other than teaching or working for the government.
People who feel victimized by society are always going to be left behind. They feel helpless to do anything about their problems and therefore, don’t even try. After all, it’s not their fault. More than anything, it’s that attitude that needs to change.
Read the full article here.