Friday, July 17, 2009

Unemployment in Virginia

So here's my new found interest in the unemployment rates. I've been out of work since May 4, 2009 and I'm going on about 2 1/2 months (I was laid off with five other coworkers from the same department because of budget cutbacks at a local non-profit). I've applied to over 120 jobs now at this point and have only gotten just a few nibbles on interviews. Since I am lucky enough to have a husband with a stable job and I'm getting unemployment, I'm trying to remind myself that we're still doing pretty good. There are so many people out there who are worse off than we are and they've been unemployed for much longer than me.

I've revamped my resume, have experience, letters of recommendation and a willingness to work.
But why am I having a hard time finding a new job? Things are just bad all over, right?

According to CNN Money, Ben Rooney reported that 38 states and the District of Colombia had increases in their unemployment rates over the month of June.

The national unemployment rate rose for the ninth straight month in June, climbing to 9.5% from 9.4%, and hitting another 26-year high. Nearly 3.4 million jobs have been lost during the first half of 2009, more than the 3.1 million lost in all of 2008," Rooney reported.

Interestingly enough, Rooney also reported, "Unemployment rates decreased in 5 states and 7 states had no rate change." Personally, I would have liked to know what those states were and how they are managing to decrease or maintain their unemployment rates.

I think the Hampton Roads area must be unique. Every branch of the military is represented here, en masse. The military lifestyle could be very nomadic, if you choose it to be. I would think Hampton Roads would have a fluctuating unemployment rate, with commands deploying and coming back, families leaving the area, etc.

On July 1, 2009, Peter Frost of the Daily Press in Newport News, VA, reported the unemployment rate for Hampton Roadswas 7% in May. It was 6.5% in April. Maybe our fellow military members here in Virginia are helping to keep our unemployment rate lower than other states.

"Hampton Roads' unemployment rate typically declines in the spring, particularly in March and April, as companies gear up for the tourism season. But economists have warned that the rate was likely to increase again over the summer as the state's colleges, universities and high schools let out and those students or graduates begin searching for work," Frost reported.

Information in Frost's article includes quotes from William F. Mezger, an economist with the Virginia Employment Commission. Mezger said, "Recent graduates and students on summer vacation are now competing with more experienced workers displaced by the recession."

Oh, joy. So I have a BA in Communications/Public Relations and loads of experience to boot, but since employers look at my resume, they are going to know they can get a recent college grad cheaper than me.

And there's my own personal rub...these employers don't want to ask what my salary range would be. They are choosing the perceived cheaper employee over the qualified, experienced employee. Hey, ask me about a salary range, I might surprise you. Don't just tell me I'm over qualified for the job I chose to apply for and then close the door on me.

Compared to the rest of the nation, "[Virginia]'s May unemployment rate also increased to 7 percent, up from 6.6 percent in April," Frost reported.

So when are things supposed to get better? That's the $64,000 question. If anyone definitively knew the answer to that question, we'd all be better off. On July 16, 2009, "...economist Nouriel Roubini said the worst of the financial crisis is over and reiterated that the recession may end this year, while takeover speculation lifted commodity shares.".

But even if the recession ends this calendar year, will business start hiring again? Will there be a need for more employees, or will employers become hesitant to increase their workforces again? If I were a business owner, I'd think long and hard about hiring more people too quickly, for fear of another recession. I wouldn't want to invest too much money in new employees when I could be saving some of that money for a rainy day.

So until that new job comes along, I'll continue scouring the job sites, trying to network, sending resumes, doing follow ups when I get lucky enough for an interview, and even sending my thank you letters.