Looking For Work in Obama’s America

It looks like I have a job here in NOLA. After less than a month of looking (the first two weeks were a wash as I was exploring the city and anticipating a visit to Kansas), I’ll be getting back into the food service industry that I prefer.

My situation obviously isn’t what one might call “normal” (nor am I what one might call normal). In an economy still struggling to recover, giving up a job, especially a good job, is sort of suicidal. Add to that my transplant status in each city and you have a guy who, on paper, looks like a terrible hire. I know I’ve been passed over on plenty of jobs because of a resume that screams, “Complete flake!”

Finding work has, some years, been a nightmare. Starting with my year in San Francisco, landing new jobs has become a stressful proposition. That isn’t to say that I didn’t stress it in Charlotte, Philadelphia or Costa Mesa, because I did. But it wasn’t until I moved to San Francisco that I had to face a stark reality: Sometimes there just aren’t jobs. Five months of fruitless job searching finally found me a position with an excellent bookstore, and not a second too soon (a few seconds too late, actually).

I moved to San Francisco September 1st, 2008. The Great Recession began December of 2007. I didn’t find work until January of 2009. Obama took office in January of 2009. These facts may be unrelated.

In Chicago, I soon found a tragic reality that I’ve had to resign myself to ever since: Bookstores aren’t hiring anymore. After 4 straight years of working in various bookstores, both corporate and privately owned, I had to look for some other form of work. The only job I could find, a little over two months into my job search, was in clothing retail, a position no one could have imagined me in (least of all, myself). I worked my ass off there and turned my Seasonal Only position into a permanent job (well, as permanent as I get).

I moved to Chicago September 1st, 2009. The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 was signed into law February of 2009. I didn’t find work until November of 2009. Obama had been in office 10 months. These facts may be unrelated.

In Nashville, I found work within three weeks. It was a lousy, horrendous job spent staring at a computer screen and reading a script to former customers of a particularly unlikeable phone service provider and generally getting yelled at by said customers who didn’t realize that I worked for a third-party company. I spent a month at this job, passing the time by creating these:

I eventually grew so fed up that I took a half day off and walked the streets of downtown where I noticed a restaurant hiring, filled out a note card-sized application and got hired on the spot.

I moved to Nashville September 1st, 2010. The Great Recession ended June 2009. I found work September of 2010, and then again in October of 2010. Obama had been in office 20 months. These facts may be unrelated.

In Seattle, thanks to a friend’s recommendation, I once again found myself in clothing retail, this time working with a company that wasn’t as female-leaning in its demographic. Landing this job took about three weeks, probably the shortest amount of time it has taken me to find work. However, around Christmas of that year, all of us employees were unceremoniously informed that the store was closing and we were all losing our jobs.

This meant that in the middle of winter, after the Christmas season and in the deadest time of year for consumerism, the lot of us were out looking for new work. Though I started sending out resumes as soon as I heard the news, my job search didn’t begin in earnest until I was out officially unemployed in January. It wasn’t until March that I found work, at what time I found two jobs. One was as a valet (hated it, quit immediately) and the other was as a server with a cruise line on the Pier. Between being laid off and landing what turned out to be a terrific job, a good friend brought me on to help him with a construction project (and I conducted a TV interview, but that’s not really relevant).

I moved to Seattle September 1st, 2011. Standard & Poor’s downgraded the U.S.’s credit rating August 5th, 2011. I found work September of 2011, and then again in March of 2012, after being without work since January. The 112th Congress had been convened 8 months. These facts may be unrelated.

Now I am here in New Orleans. I have found work.

President Obama is running for re-election against former governor Mitt Romney, whose major argument against the President is that the recovery efforts have been too slow, even completely ineffective. The unemployment rate when Obama took office in January of 2009 was 7.8%. The unemployment rate reached it’s highest level of 10.1% in October of 2009, 9 months after Obama took office, 8 months after the Recovery Act passed, and 4 months after the recession ended. In November of 2009, the unemployment rate dropped to 9.9% and has never returned to 10% since. The unemployment rate for September of 2012 is 7.8%, the lowest it has been under Obama’s effective presidency.

The weather in New Orleans is beautiful.

These facts may be unrelated.

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