Came across this story on SFGate that hit nerve:
Headlined "More middle-class jobless need government aid," the story is about a Pacifica woman who was laid off last summer from her job as an attorney. In that job, she earned $100,000 a year. Now, she and her husband, 43, a stay-at-home dad to their two kids, are relying on $450-a-week in government assistance to stay in their apartment and pay for food and other basic necessities.
The article from the San Francisco Chronicle says that this family has joined "an uncounted number of Californians who find themselves in desperate circumstances caused by long bouts of joblessness."
It quotes Stephen Levy, with the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy in Palo Alto, as saying "the duration of long-term unemployment, which is over six months, is unlike anything we've seen since the Depression, and even though we are extending the safety net, it is not enough for some folks."
"The situation is awful," Levy continues, "way beyond the 12.5 percent figure" of unemployment."
This story hit a nerve for me because on Monday we learned that my husband's contract for his job won't continue. He's in an industry that is finally feeling the affects of the Great Recession,; his company is cutting back. After next week, he won't have a job. Done. Over.
As a contract employee, he won't get any severance, and we won't be able to rely on government assistance--in the form of unemployment insurance--to soften the blow.
Fortunately, I'm still employed. We have a roof over our head, some money saved (that was to go for a home renovation project), and we have great family support. It sounds like we're in a more secure place than the protagonist of this San Francisco Chronicle story--and other people out there.
Still, it's been a strange couple days. One reason is that--strange as this sounds--it feels like many of us are living in this new reality, where you find that certain ideas of about security have no meaning. You think you have the chance for obtaining long-term financial security, then--whoosh--that chance drops out from under you.
Sorry, don't want to sound maudlin or self-pitying, because in another strange way I don't feel that pessimistic. Sure, I have had moments of sadness, disappointment, and fear, and it hurts to see my husband feeling bad or worried. We're living with the great uncertainty about his employment. How long will this go on?
On the other hand, the job he lost was wearing very thin on him and involved tons more stress than it was worth. So, it's good he's out of that situation.
Either I'm in shock or denial, but I'm mostly seeing the silver lining and the cup half full. I'm reminded of what the Mother Superior told Maria in The Sound of Music. To paraphrase: "When God shuts a door, he opens a window."
I think my husband might have a chance to find a way out through that window, and it might lead to a professional, personal, and familly situation that will suit him better.