Today I joined what may be one of the fastest growing clubs in the United States: the club of people filing for unemployment. The mass of unemployed people is growing at an alarming rate not seen since the early 1980's. According to the Bureau of Labor and Statistics, unemployment climbed to 9.4% in May of this year. This is the highest rate Americans have seen since August of 1983 when unemployment decreased from 10.8% in late 1982 to 9.5% in August of 1983.
While these numbers are alarming, we are nowhere near the numbers that were experienced durring the Great Depression. In 1933, the ranks of jobless Americans swelled to a staggering 24.9% as reported at huppi.com.
As staggering as the current situation is, what amazes me the most is the number of people in my little bubble of associates who remain unemployed not due to a lack of any available jobs, but due to an overwhelming amount of pride.
A little explanation may be needed here.
I am a college educated man with 10 years of experience in teaching at the high school level. When my teaching contract was cancelled last July due to restructuring, I took a job managing a group home for mentally and physically handicapped adults. I figured this would hold me over until I either found a new teaching job or advanced up the ladder to a better paying job within the field of developmental disabilities.
That ended almost a week ago when I was let go from that job and found myself unemployed and uncertain as to what the future held.
Since then, I have applied for a variety of jobs ranging from teaching to stock boy. In these times, beggars can't be choosy. I have long realized that you may need to set your sights low when life sidetracks you. However, I have encountered people who will not humble themselves to work in the basic labor force because it is "beneath them."
Newsflash! Now is not the time to be holding out for your dream job! You may be a highly skilled architect or bio engineer, but you may need to flip burgers for a bit until you get back on your feet. In an economy that may take a while to rebound, people can not afford to suffer the hubris of the ancient Greek heroes. Now is the time to suck up you pride and put away your Wall Street suits; reach in the closet and grab the drab clothes of the common workers. Who knows? You may learn to appreciate the proletariat once you get off your royal rump. You may have to eat some cake too, but at least you will be eating.