Monday, December 14, 2009

From Las Vegas To Washington: We Need Jobs Now

My weekly hike has been suspended indefinitely since I’m once again hyper-focused on finding more work. Although I have one steady writing assignment, a weekly writing group that I facilitate, and a part-time retail job (all of which I’m incredibly grateful for right now), none of it can compensate for the near total lack of work for my hubby. It’s difficult to make up for a 75%+ drop in household income.

On December 3, Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce President Kara Kelley was the only Nevadan at President Obama’s White House Job Creation Forum. I guess Las Vegas’ status as the Detroit of the West simply isn’t enough to warrant more attention. Or maybe it’s more of the same attitude that we who live in Las Vegas are expendable, immoral, and unsustainable—despite the 37 million people who travel here each year.

In order to keep from bursting blood vessels or suffering from high blood pressure (especially since we had to give up our health insurance), I’ve had to stop thinking about the current unemployment quagmire that is sinking our city. I’ve instead chosen to focus on the fact that there are jobs out there. Maybe not as many jobs as we need, maybe not very many well-paying jobs, but jobs are out there. It’s like a treasure hunt, only you get to lose your home and live in your car if you can’t find that elusive Job With a Living Wage. In my case, I’m very lucky because I can look for jobs on two fronts: writing assignments and whatever is available in the brick and mortar category—writing is often in cyberspace and on the phone, while administrative jobs usually require you to put on make-up, look pretty, and appear in person at someone else’s office. I’m also working on finding a way to go without sleep, which will make working around the clock so much easier.

Of course, I’m not just applying for administrative and writing jobs. I’m applying for anything for which I’m qualified. That includes dog watching, taking inventory, and stocking grocery store shelves. I’ve discovered that being self-employed is a strike against me, that personality tests really do have right and wrong answers, that just getting a response from a job application is a major achievement, and that scammers and computer hackers are busily preying on job seekers these days.

So here’s my message to Washington and our leaders: We need jobs. Now. Not $8.00 an hour jobs; jobs that we can use to stay in our homes. Construction was one of Las Vegas’ major industries, and the housing and financial crisis blew a hole through it—a hole big enough that my husband could drive his idle Kenworth right through it. Unless something is done quickly, a second wave of foreclosures, loan delinquencies, and bankruptcies will sink even more people—people like my husband and me, who have managed to hang on for the past three years but who now are running out of resources. Do we really need more committees and forums to understand that? Here in Las Vegas, where the unemployment rate is 13%, how much more bickering do we need to have over highway projects and high-speed trains? Can we just form a committee devoted to bickering so the rest of our “leaders” can devote themselves to creating jobs?

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got to get back to looking for work.
Picture information: My husband’s Kenworth, which worked for about 20 hours last month.


maria said...

Well i would say this is not only with Las Vegas and Washington, recession is affecting everywhere and this is adversely affecting lifestyles. Great work, i liked reading this blog, very touching.

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TH Meeks said...

Thanks for stopping by, Maria! One of the reasons I decided to write about the jobs situation/recession is exactly because of what you said--it's affecting a lot of people. I know my family is definitely not alone. With our high unemployment here in Vegas (I believe we were the highest in the nation after Detroit, but that may have changed), it's really a situation many are experiencing.