There is no doubt that we are in the midst of an economic depression. We have all felt it and we all know people affected in devastatingly real ways. Our country, but more specifically Nevada and our region, Reno, has felt the effects of poor economic policy, bad lending practices and a desire to obtain the “American Dream” with little regard for the consequences of poor judgment.
As a result of many things, some within the control of individual citizens, but most within the hands of the business elite and financially wealthy, the “average Joe,” or “Jane” for that matter, are finding themselves in a position of job loss due to company bankruptcy, financial instability as a result of absentee customers, and companies can no longer afford employee excess. It has been, for most of the economic middle-class, a struggle to slim down everything to avoid closing the small business doors that fuel this society. In a sense, small business owners are throwing everything overboard in an effort to save a sinking ship.
At the receiving end of all this frightful frenzy, are those close to retirement and too expensive to continue to employ, especially when much younger and much cheaper labor is available; those who have select specialties that do not translate well across other industries; those who simply could no longer be afforded – much like throwing the food overboard a sinking ship – in an effort to remain in business; finally, there are those that simply find themselves without a job for no reason at all.
Unfortunately, Nevada is a right to work state. Meaning, neither the employer nor the employee has to give a reason for discontinuing employment. And that means for a lot of Americans, they find themselves, many for the first time ever, in the unemployment line.
Lynn Watkins, a graduate student at the University of Nevada, Reno and until recently a veterinary tech, found herself with a pink slip right around the holidays. Her employers gave no reason for her dismissal, other than she was no longer needed.
Due to her MBA class schedule, Lynn has found it difficult to find employment. Employers want simplicity. They do not want to have to “work with a schedule.” The abundance of labor has given much of the power to employers and leaves little opportunity for applicants like Lynn.
For the first time in her short work life, Lynn is applying for unemployment. “The entire process has been frustrating,” said Lynn. The unemployment office, like many businesses have now opted to streamline processes by offering online forms and decisions. However, under some circumstances, applying for unemployment benefits online is not allowed. Because Lynn had recently filed for worker’s compensation due to an injury on the job, she was required to call in and speak with someone in order to explain her special circumstance.
After 3 hours of waiting on hold, Lynn gave up and hung up. She had decided she would call back another day. However, at the recommendation of her boyfriend, Lynn called back shortly before closing. Because she was on the line prior to the end of business hours, the unemployment office is required to take her call. Finally, after an additional half hour on hold, Lynn was able to begin the process.
Unemployment has been unkind to all industries, social and economic classes, the educated and uneducated alike. It knows no bounds and sees no difference among age, race, religion, experience or any other defining characteristic. It is just as likely for the guy working at a garage, restaurant, or construction site to find himself in line at the unemployment office as is an accountant, real estate agent, or veterinary tech.
What initially seems like a simple procedure turns out to be complicated and inconvenient. The unemployment representative is required to verify the applicant’s information as well as inform them that they will be mailed a packet instructing them on how to look for and apply for jobs online. Finally, they let you know that they will be calling back for a phone interview in which they will ask more questions to determine unemployment eligibility. They tell you to expect a letter in the mail with their decision. And then you wait some more. Lynn said the whole process can take a minimum of 21 business days.
After just a few weeks and only at the beginning of the process, Lynn says that the process is already overwhelming. It is no wonder so many Americans have given up.
In such dire times and when American citizens are in need of some relief, waiting seems to be the name of the game; but for what, Godot?
“Welcome to Nevada” sign, courtesy of http://bit.ly/lPaq57
Some Resources for the unemployed: