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Author: Milligram46 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 1972600  
Subject: What Today's Job Report Means To Me Date: 4/2/2004 3:55 PM
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Consider this a focus group of one. A lot of posts have been tossed around on the concept of 308K jobs created versus an uptick in unemployment and the number of the under-employed. After much thought I felt it was time to come forward with this and if the right howls and yowls in delight well than woe to those who find joy in the plight of others.

In July of 2003 I lost my job in the high tech field. For the previous 10 years of my career I never, ever had an issue finding employment. I made a couple of hops to move my career along and in late 1999 I felt I was being left behind by the dot com explosion. I had worked hard in more stable organizations and made other people rich and although I had a nice life I did want more. It was the gold rush days circa 21st century.

So I took a job with what I felt was a moderate risk. I took a cut in salary, and even bigger ding in standard of living because of where I was moving from versus to where I was moving to, but the big fat carrot on the stick was 34,000 shares of stock. After my first month, I was already worth 3.3 million dollars - all on paper.

Then the bottom dropped out of the stock market.

The options went worthless ~ morale in the company plunged with it. Some co-workers who had borrowed on margin went bankrupt (memo to self, never borrow on margin) when the calls were made. One of my direct reports barely made it by financially.

Then the rumors started...layoffs.

The first round was small and sedated. It made the media but it was viewed by many internally as housekeeping. A way of getting rid of those who were causing drag on the organization.

I won't go into the details of that day in 2001 but it was surreal. People in absolute panic and terror. Adults in their 30's and 40's running through the halls, some crying. I was lucky, survived round two.

Then the company did something unusual. They repriced stock options for folks like myself who came in late in the boom and were hopelessly under water. It was a boost, but the stock just kept dropping.

Then came the third round of layoffs. This time I was part of the panicked masses. I had watched the organization I was brought in to operate scaled down the previous two cuts. A chimp could have run the business and my skills were not terribly transferable. There was only one thing I am convinced to this day that saved me back then. Two other managers had quit in the prior week. My head would be needed for one of those slots and that is exactly what happened. Still I started packing my office as the time to be told you still had a job slipped by, the message was late getting to me.

However I ended up not making it to round four. That was July 3, 2003.

I have sent out over 300 resumes to area employers. I am actually luckier than some of my contemporaries. I actually get phone calls and in early March enjoyed the luck of three seperate interviews. However nothing came together into an offer. The one best shot I had where I was ideally qualified fell through when the job req was closed, unfilled. OUCH.

In February of 2004 I joined the ranks of the employed statistically speaking. My benefits for unemployment exhausted I was no longer part of the equation for defining those numbers.

After operating at a cash flow negative since August of 2003 my financial situation has turned pretty desperate. In December of 2003 I was able to refinance my vehicle, that had only one year left until payoff for a 4 year term, at interest (had 0.0%). I trimmed the fat out of my budget down to the bone. Cut back on entertainment, turned the thermostat down to 64 degrees. I shared my internet connection with my neighbor (DSL) to get my costs down to $15 a month. I got rid of cable. I went from living on a near 6-digit income to getting my bills and living expense to under $3K a month, that includes the house payment, car payment and insurance - INCLUDING my COBRA. How's that for creative account!

Still my situation is getting down right raw. I started applying for jobs at retail outlets but I am naturally, over qualified. When I went to my old college time employer, they expressed fear, and rightly so that if a "real" job came along, I'd be out the door, so why invest the time. Ouch, ouch, and OUCH.

So at the end of the day I've take a P/T commission only job. Hooray! I'm employed and my new job falls into the March numbers. However I fall into that growing 4.x million number of American workers who are grossly under employed.

I keep sending out resumes and keep using my network. A friend is getting my resume under the nose at a big employer in the area versus the HR send your resume online into a black hole and never hear from us again process.

This is MY reality. So in a glass half-full or half-empty, as you can look at today's report, well I'm sad to say I'm a glass half-empty kind of guy.

I have worked and been paying into social security since I was 15 years old. In my entire life I have been unemployed previous for six months by choice, when my mother was deathly ill with a brain tumor and I moved in to help her out. I was young, had money in savings, and it seemed like the right thing to do. That was just under six months, with my old employer calling me three times during that period asking me to return (and offering me an assignment in Texas where I was staying at the time).

So now I'm going into month 10 of under employment/unemployment. You have no idea what that does to your psyche and sense of self. It is made even worse because I am a single parent and faced with the challenges of caring for my child in the process.

Point blank if I don't have meaningful, gainful employment by the end of May to mid-June I will be in serious financial trouble. Now my liquid assets and cash flow (using todays numbers) will be at a point that I simply won't have that $3,000 a month.

Little things excite me now. My gas bill was down 40% from the previous month because it's getting warmer out and I've gotten use to living at 64 degrees. Longer days means a lower electric bill too. My cell phone contract ended yesterday so I can now change to the cheapest calling plan (I have had the same cell number for more than four years).

So this has been my reality ~ and because of circumsntances out of my control I'm stuck in a hard hit region with one of the highest national unemployment rates. The latest number puts 217K in my state out of work, and 7K to 8K added each month to the ranks that I am in.

So for me the job report isn't all that good. The jobs being created are not high paying, white collar roles and there is a lot of data to support that.

I don't know what else I can do but carry on, send those resumes and make those calls. I know things will get better and I have been historically in far worse situations. But for me, a focus group of one, it has gotten down right scary.
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