Long-Term Unemployment: States Search For Strategies To Counter Joblessness

WASHINGTON — When Steve Clark of St. Louis, Mo., lost his IT job in 2009, he intuitively knew that as someone older than 60, he’d have a tough time getting back to work. So he scrambled, compiling all of his professional contacts, drafting 13 different versions of his resume and meeting with anyone he could.

A former client who owned an IT consulting business told Clark he could have hired him before the economy went sour, but not now. Still, Clark pushed ahead.

“I knew his business because I’d been selling to him for 20 years,” Clark said. “I said, ‘I can come in and work in your office. I can answer the phone, I can dispatch your technicians. I’ll do it for free just because I want an office to go to, a place to work out of.’ ”

Clark said the former client set him up with a desk and a phone. Clark got to work, and within three months, he said, he’d made himself so useful that he got hired in August, 2009. Now Clark, 62, is making a third of what he used to, but he’s grateful to have a job.

“In a couple years, everything will be in place and I’ll retire,” he said.

To confront the growing problem of long-term unemployment, the Obama administration may seek to put Clark’s strategy into practice on a national scale. The White House has signaled that it may replicate a program in Georgia that allows businesses to train jobless workers for two months without having to pay them.

The program, called Georgia Works, is only open to workers receiving unemployment insurance.

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