Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Breadwinners now begging for scraps: Men 55 and older face soaring unemployment

Graham Cawthon

KINGS MOUNTAIN — Allan Nichols describes himself as a well-read, self-motivated native Cheesehead. He has a law degree, spent time with a chamber of commerce, was a corporate lobbyist and spends his nights teaching himself astronomy.

But, since July 2006, that hasn’t been enough to get Nichols, 58, a job.

Older workers out of work

And he’s not alone. Nationwide unemployment in 2001 among people 55 and older seeking full-time work stood at 442,000. In 2009, that number quadrupled to 1,624,000. And it continues to rise, with 2010 at 1,816,000.

But the story within the story is who’s out of work. Year after year, roughly 50 percent of the annual average is attributed to the white male demographic.

Nichols refers to it as a ‘manpression,’ as older, white male, experienced middle management workers can’t find footing in today’s economy.

“We were the breadwinners,” he said. “Now, we're begging for scraps.”

1,200 job applications

Unemployment benefits “expired long ago” and Nichols, who isn’t married or having to support kids, said he’s not willing to turn to food stamps or the Department of Social Services for assistance. And so the self-described “aggressive saver” sells on eBay and works as a handyman to pay the bills.

“When you’re unemployed, finding a job has to be your job,” he said.

He estimates he put in 1,200 job applications in 2010. Of those, he said, he actually received rejections from 16 or 17. He says his education and professional experience have worked against him, with prospective employers classifying him as overqualified for the job.

“Do I lie on my resume and leave out law school and a college degree?” he asks. “Not lying is one of the earliest rules of Sunday school.”

And there’s no lying when it comes to his gray hair. Age too, he said, has worked against finding employment and has been an issue of discussion at job interviews.

“But that goes more to motivation,” he continued. “I don’t tweet, I don’t Facebook and I don’t play fantasy football on the boss’s time.”

‘It’s terrifying’

Nichols’ days begin early with several hours spent searching online and in the media for tips that may lead to employment, not only in the county but nationwide. He studies the front page of the newspaper, looking for familiar names of people who might know more about potential job growth.

There was once an opportunity to land a position with a small museum in his native Wisconsin. It would have meant $30,000 per year, no retirement and no health benefits. And, despite his efforts, that too fell through.

He looks for more museum positions, and even has his eye on potential opportunities with the Earl Scruggs Center, set for a 2012 opening. But, so far, nothing.

“It’s becoming increasingly more difficult to be optimistic,” he said. “It’s terrifying.”

He still owns a laptop and has a cable TV subscription, which he contends is about as luxurious as his expenses get. But even those may fall by the wayside as his job search continues.

‘I don’t know the solution’

Read The Rest Of "The Star" Article

No comments:

Post a Comment