The economy will make you swallow your pride

Garrison Ebie

In case anyone out there looking for a job has not realized this yet, finding one right now is pretty difficult. As of July 2009, the Ohio unemployment rate was at about 11.2 percent, up from about 7 percent a year before. This means that for every application process someone goes through, there are almost twice as many people as there were last year who are at least as qualified to accept that position.

Luckily for me, I have a job. The most difficult part about having this one is waking up at the crack of dawn and driving a half-hour, fueled only by a pot of coffee and a few bleak hours of sleep to Cuyahoga Falls. When I get there, my primary task is to do one thing: cut grass. Lots of grass. Unfortunately for me though, we live in a temperate environment here in the Midwest and by about this time next month, that grass won’t be growing that much and I’ll be laid off with my back up against the wall.

I’ve been working there for the last three summers, but every year in the past there’s been some line of work to fall back on when September rolls back around. This year is a different story. As far as I can tell, Kent is fresh out of jobs. We’re talking at least three dozen written applications I’ve filled out in the last month and a resume being dropped off anywhere that will take it. No luck on the frontier as far as I can see, and given the accounts of a few people I know, I’m not the only one with this problem.

According to the Department of Labor, the national unemployment rate is about 9.7 percent. That’s about 14 million Americans. Unofficially, that number probably looks something more like 16 percent, or 22 million people. This unofficial rate includes everyone who is not included in the labor department’s up-to-date records, as well as those workers who are not on the clock for as many hours as they would like and those who have given up on the job search. To add more fuel to the fire, about 216,000 additional jobs were lost in August.

This is bad news, as well as a no-brainer. America has been in a recession for the last 21 months. The national deficit is at some trillion-dollar amount that I don’t even feel like investigating right now and from what I can tell, most of the population is going broke while trying to pay for houses they couldn’t afford in the first place.

Groceries cost too much, credit card interest rates are through the roof and college students like myself with lingering student loans are faced with the equivalent of a mortgage to deal with when school is over while unable find a way to pay it off. Finding a trace of optimism today is about as likely as me successfully completing today’s edition of Sudoku.

Sorry to sound like such a Debbie Downer, but even though times are tough, there are still several practical answers to prepare for having less in the piggy bank than before. One of these would be to take full advantage of all the free food that’s around.

Did you know you can call up Kent Social Services once a month, make an appointment and walk away with a few bags filled with free food? Also, the Vineyard on Depeyster Street has free bread and pastries every Tuesday and Thursday morning. Just make sure to get there before it’s all picked over.

For anyone who really wants to milk the system for all it’s worth, food stamps are also available for just about anyone with a disappointing paycheck who’s willing to go through a few hours of paperwork.

Staying afloat with little cash isn’t really that difficult. Keeping a slightly more frugal lifestyle and sucking in some pride is all it takes.

Even though economists predict the recession is expected to make a shift forward in the first quarter of 2010, unemployment is still not expected to recover quite yet. By some estimates, it is even expected to rise, even at a more moderate pace according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. News of this is rather sad for me considering my one-month deadline to find a way to make some cash. I heard bone marrow is a hot commodity these days. Maybe I’ll end up taking that route.

Garrison Ebie is a senior electronic media production major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].