Two wars, severe recession, and a lot less cash to spend with. How will you be able to get smiling this Christmas?
While some people got up early and made their way to the lengthy lines outside of the country’s biggest retail stores this morning to search for a 97 inch TV for $4 (I bet each store only had 2 TVs), some Americans have decided to opt out of Black Friday shopping in order to focus on the things that truly matter.
As in family, friends, good food, volunteerism, and anything else that shifts away from the materialistic aspects to the holiday season. All of the things that make you go “aww” and fit in perfectly with the plot of a holiday themed episode of any typical sitcom.
Sarcasm aside, with two wars and another year of recession, is it time to refocus on what it means to have an enjoyable holiday season?
Via USA Today:
It'll be hard for many people — for the homeless and those trying to house them, for the hungry and those trying to feed them. Hard for relatives trying to get home, hard for employees (and employers) whose businesses can't afford much of a celebration or a thank you.
The 25-pound turkey, the office party, the year-end bonus, the family reunion, the second (or third) Christmas tree — all are threatened by what employment consultant John Challenger calls "a culture of frugality" and the need to refocus an alluring American dream: a happy holiday.
I’ve never met a person who gets multiple Christmas trees for their house. Some folks need to stop acting as if they’re too good for a reusable plastic tree. Captain Planet would approve.
That said, how many of you find yourselves planning to spend less money on the superfluous items and placing more focus on family and those in need?
Last year I had to tell my friends that Ebenezer Mae and her BFF, CitiCrook, ruined any opportunity for me to buy them gifts once I got hefty student loan bills. No one left out my name in the blessing because of it and we all managed to still enjoy the holiday.
If you find yourself in a similar predicament this year, how will you make sure you can say the same?
If there’s any particular group that’s suffering most it’s our youth. Why the American Dream is on definite hold for many young black men and women.
The Washington Post released a hard-hitting report on the state of the young black worker.
In short, if you’re between the ages of 16-24 you are screwed. Actually, as someone who only recently turned 25, let me add that you’re not much bigger off in that demographic either. For black men the state of the job market is astounding. Joblessness for 16-to-24-year-old black men reached 34.5 percent in October, three times the rate for the general U.S. population. For black women, the rate is 26.5 percent while the national average is 15.4 percent.
The jobless rate for young black men and women overall is 30.5 percent.
Naturally, there are discrepancies in how blacks and whites are treated in the job market.
Via the Post:
For young blacks -- who experts say are more likely to grow up in impoverished racially isolated neighborhoods, attend subpar public schools and experience discrimination -- race statistically appears to be a bigger factor in their unemployment than age, income or even education. Lower-income white teens were more likely to find work than upper-income black teens, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, and even blacks who graduate from college suffer from joblessness at twice the rate of their white peers.
That makes me want to grocery shop at every relative’s house tomorrow.
Since the start of The Recession Diaries, here at The Root we’ve published a number of letters from young workers of color and their experiences since the start of the economic downturn. If you haven’t read them before I invite you to read some of the stories below and share your own.
Despite initially being presented as a means to help those hardest hit by the economy, it seems more money is going into the wealthier areas across the nation than poorest. Why can't government ever get it right?
One issue that I’ve always taken throughout this entire ordeal with the economy that so much has been stressed on the plight of the middle class, but not enough about those with much lower earnings. Yes, the extension of unemployment benefits and other services like food stamps have been helpful, but that additional money comes on the heels of middle class workers needing the aid, not necessarily out of concern for poor people.
Moreover, for many – particularly among blacks in this country – the recession started long before December 2007.
So when the stimulus bill was passed many had hoped that the areas hit hardest by the recession would be aided most. In fact, the Associated Press noted earlier this year that the plan was "set to spend 50% more per person in areas with the lowest unemployment than it will in communities with the highest."
But in a new Times article, “Are Minorities Getting Enough out of The Stimulus?,” Tim Padgett uses the story of how the needs of Miami’s poorest residents have been neglected despite the state of Florida receiving $15 billion in stimulus aid.
Miami's poorer residents have long complained that the city's meager public-transit system makes it harder for them to get to work. So when the Obama Administration announced the $787 billion stimulus plan earlier this year, many hoped some of that money would help fund plans like an expansion of Miami's undersized Metrorail system — especially a 10-mile northern extension that would reach into predominantly African-American and other minority communities largely cut off from downtown and other employment centers. But the project, in part because it's not considered as shovel-ready as jobs like existing highway maintenance, isn't getting any of the $15 billion in stimulus aid for Florida, and has been shelved for the time being.
And it’s not just Miami. Padgett also noted that a Chicago Public Radio investigation this fall found that less than 10% of the Department of Transportation's stimulus contracts had gone to "disadvantaged business enterprises.”
In Florida, and most likely other states, the bulk of new construction work has gone to venues like airports and new highways that benefit the more affluent suburbs.
Have you noticed the same thing in your home state?
Has this become another instance of government blowing the opportunity to help minorities?
I’d love to hear from you. Leave your feedback below and send your own recession stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Those looking for a little extra cash for the holiday shopping season are going to have to compete with the loads of cash-strapped unemployed applicants simply searching for a steady check.
If you’re looking to make a little extra money this holiday season to buy things you don’t need, chances are you’re on the hunt for a seasonal job. But if this new survey from Careerbuilder.com is as accurate as it seems, you face some pretty stiff competition. Survey says 1-in-8 employed workers plan to take on a seasonable job.
With the unemployment rate flying above 10% (yes, that is a Kandi Burruss reference), employed workers have to compete with out of work applicants are itching for that retail, package delivery, and movie theater gig for the sake of securing a steady pay check just in time for the shopping season. Plus, many hope that a temporary hire could turn into a permanent job offer after the New Year.
But, though there’s obviously more interest in seasonal work this year, the amount of available positions might not be able to keep up with demand.
USA Today reports:
CareerBuilder.com is more optimistic in its hiring outlook. It expects it to be on par with last year. However, 2008's hiring levels were dramatically lower than the previous five years, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Yet, many big firms are cutting back. For instance, retail behemoth Target hopes to glean some savings by reducing its number of untrained new hires in favor of asking existing employees to work more shifts.
If you’re fortunate enough to become a seasonal worker this year, you’re about even on whether you’ll learn more or less vs. last year. Roughly 12% of hiring managers say they’ll increase pay while 15% say they’re planning a decrease.
The pay breakdown is as follows:
How much managers expect to pay per hour:
20% between $6 and $8.
34% between $8 and $10.
44% at least $10.
12% at least $16.
Are you searching for a seasonal job? If so, has it been difficult to find work? I’d love to hear about your employment search.
Leave your feedback below and send your recession stories to email@example.com.
People are broke, but are they broke enough to hop on someone else’s Wi-Fi and steal your identity to make ends meet?
Earlier this year, a reader sent in a letter about her experiences with identity theft. In her letter, she detailed how she missed out on her dream job opportunity after a background check revealed she failed to appear in courts over tickets she never knew she received. That was because someone stole her identity. By the time she settled her legal issues her dream offer was in limbo.
Months after that letter was published I myself discovered that I had been a victim of identity theft. Someone stole my social security number and used it to work at a roofing company in Oakland. The closet I’ve been to Oakland is a Keyshia Cole album and I probably haven’t used the word roof in a sentence since 1997 (when people used to “raise them”). As you can imagine, I was shocked to find out someone hijacked my social number and treated it like an item at Rent-A-Center.
Are others out there in danger of suffering each of our respective fates?
Crimes such as mortgage fraud, identity theft and, particularly, employee-related schemes appear to be on the rise, according to Orin Snyder, a former federal prosecutor who is now a litigation partner in the New York office of Gibson, Dunn and Crutcher.
"There's no question that during the past year and a half, companies are reporting as a result of the financial contraction a spike in the kind of low-level, garden-variety frauds that in the aggregate can be very significant to companies: things like credit card fraud, insurance fraud and employee embezzlement," says Snyder. "We're also seeing an increase in data breaches and identity theft."
Some of argued against these claims, making the case that companies simply have more time to pay closer attention to fraud. You know, with them having their pick of the litter these days and all.
Not to play the paranoia game, but I can’t help but suspect more people are inclined to try their luck with white collar crime given the sheer desperation in light of the economy. Have you become wearier of being a victim of identity theft with rampant unemployment? Have you already been a victim?
I’d love to hear your stories. Leave feedback below and send your stories (no, I mean it…send them) about your own battles with the recession by writing firstname.lastname@example.org.