August 16, 2022

Economix: ‘I Am Not a Statistic’: The Invisibility of the Unemployed

Dear Ms. Rampell,

I read with interest your recent column, ‘The Unemployed Somehow Became Invisible’ (July 9).

I am unemployed. I am not a statistic. I am not one of fourteen-plus million. I am me. I have a life. When authors use such big numbers, it’s easy for us unemployed to feel invisible.

I am a community relations professional with 20 years of combined experience in nonprofit, health care and higher education. I’ve had a lot of successes and am respected by colleagues and others with whom I’ve worked and/or collaborated. I’ve had several interviews and been one of two or three finalists. So why hasn’t anyone offered me a job yet?

I spend my day writing and rewriting my resume, customizing cover letters, calling friends and contacts, networking, taking classes, and editing my LinkedIn profile. Job hunting is more than a full-time job. I spend seven days a week several hours a day on my computer, far more time than the average person in a 9 to 5 job. But I have no union to protect me and I don’t earn a paycheck like people with real jobs.

I’ve heard that the longer one is unemployed, the harder it is to secure a new job. “Your skills get soft.” “You lose touch with your connections.” At least that’s what ‘they’ say.

I try to remain philosophical. You know, ‘the right job will come along at the right time.’ I keep my interview suits clean and pressed. I make regular visits to my hairdresser and get the occasional manicure. I am fortunate insofar as I am surrounded by people who care about me and continue to support me throughout this journey.

I remember back to a project that my daughter did. She was in sixth grade and had to ‘spend’ one million dollars. Boy was that hard! With that project I learned that one million is a really big number, too big to truly comprehend. Fourteen-plus million is even bigger.

I don’t want to be one of fourteen-plus million anymore. I want to be thought of by columnists and law makers as me. And I believe that there are fourteen-plus million more just like me. Because of that, we – you – need to think about unemployment one person at a time. Me, Mike, Bruce, Pam, Audrey, Arlene, Bob, and the others. And then I need a job and so do they.

Thank you.

–Tina Friedman

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