Unemployed or underemployed?

With the US unemployment rate at 9.9% in April (reportedly 8.8% in NY and 5.3% in Tompkins County), there are many workers facing long term financial and emotional insecurity. With the clock ticking on their unemployment benefits, many workers either scramble to take low-paying, unsatisfying jobs, work less than the hours necessary to support themselves or face age discrimination in their job hunts.

Two unemployed Workers Center members came to us recently, proposing to help others who are going through the same experiences. These members met when they traveled to Auburn to attend a job seekers support group sponsored by Assemblyman Gary Finch. One of them also began attending meetings of the Syracuse group Mature Workers Employment Alliance.

Luckily for the Workers Center and unemployed or underemployed workers here, the two began to talk about starting a support group here in Tompkins County. With a little more planning, the group will be meeting once a month in the Workers Center space on the second floor of 115 The Commons. I’ll let you know when the kick-off meeting is scheduled.

In the meantime, check out Workers Center member Bev Abplanalp’s show on Pegasys Community Access TV, U & U and me too. This show spotlights the issues of job seeking for the unemployed and underemployed.

The photo above is Dorothea Lange’s 1933 White Angel Breadline. Lois Jordan, a wealthy widow in San Francisco, operated a soup kitchen serving hundreds — sometimes thousands — of meals a day during the Great Depression. Nicknamed the White Angel, Lois used her own money and donated food to support the kitchen.

Dorothea Lange was a Works Progress Administration photographer who chronicled the lives of the poor affected by the Great Depression. Besides employing photographers, the WPA’s work included recording oral histories of formerly enslaved people, building roads, schools and libraries and funding murals, mosaics, plays and other art and cultural projects. Wouldn’t it be great if our unemployed workers were engaged in government programs creating meaningful and beautiful work?