Put us back to work!

Long-time joblessness is demoralizing and shameful

The author, a Chico State University graduate and journalist for 23 years, lives in Stockton.

There is no feeling quite like the one that comes from long-term unemployment, especially for someone willing, able and hungry to get back to work.

It has been 18 months since I was laid off after 22 years working as a newspaper reporter and editor. At no time in my life have I felt this demoralized. Never before have I felt such a void of confidence. Never before have I been without health insurance.

What? You don’t care? Then be uncaring enough for each of the 14.6 million unemployed Americans.

The economy has to improve, but when? How much longer will corporate America turn an uncaring shoulder to hard-working Americans who have no jobs? Corporations are holding onto trillions of dollars, some say over concerns about possible future federal regulations. It is hard to believe that U.S. firms can be so callous, so shortsighted.

Meanwhile, those Americans—of which 6.8 million are considered long-term unemployed—go without work. Some are endangered of becoming unemployable because corporations insist on hiring people who are already working and whose skills are considered sharper.

I am frustrated and mad that I was laid off, that my job search has been protracted, and because corporations—mostly Wall Street bankers and the like—received huge federal bailouts and then paid executives millions of dollars in bonuses for finding innumerable ways to charge consumers new fees. Congress failed Americans across the land, and the Federal Reserve is failing in one of its main objectives: zero unemployment.

I am frustrated and mad that my next-best option is to clear out a meager retirement fund, lean on credit cards, and depend on family and friends who themselves are struggling.

Long-term unemployment does more than demoralize the unemployed. It demoralizes their families, friends and former co-workers. Long-term unemployment hurts the economy by eliminating consumer spending and making a downsized economy the norm. Long-term unemployment undermines this country by impeding economic recovery.

Without care for the unemployed, job creation, and bold effort by politicians and corporate America, we can expect the economy to shrink and unemployment to rise.

We 14.6 million unemployed must shame the Obama administration, Congress, the Federal Reserve, and especially corporate America to get Americans back to work. There should be no rest until the unemployment rate is halved.