Don Lee from the Los Angeles Times reported “more than 4 million jobs disappeared in 2009.”   “The economy needs to create about 125,000 net jobs a month to keep pace with the growing population and workforce, and economists say it will take growth of at least that many payrolls a month to make an appreciable dent in the unemployment rate.”  Dan Indiviglio from the Atlantic business section stated “one in six Americans can’t find full-time work.” 

Who are these unemployed Americans?  They are good people in an unfortunate situation.  My sister is a prime example of this “part-time” statistic.  When her employer reduced her hours to keep her employed, she quickly began a search for a second part-time job.  While she remained employed as a “part-timer”, many of her co-workers took the attitude “I will take the lay-off, cut back on expenses, draw unemployment, and then I will focus on finding a new job when things get better”. 

My sister began her quest for a second part-time early in 2009.  Immediately, she saw this was going to be a challenge.  Even with many marketable skills, the number of people who were losing their seasonal retail jobs, had already added competition for very few available positions.  She found that her quest to be selective in “finding just the right thing” gave way to “I have to get something soon”.  By August, 2009, she was working four part-time jobs to reach the level of income she required.    Finally, after a year of diligently “pounding the pavement”, she found and accepted full-time employment in December, 2009.

Many of her former co-workers, who made the decision to put off their quest for employment, found themselves in dire financial situations.  When they had exceeded the time limit for eligibility for unemployment, they began utilizing funds they had saved for their future and retirement for living expenses.  Some opted to move in hopes of finding something/anything that would fulfill that need of financial support. 

This story does have a happy ending for my sister, and a couple of her co-workers.  One man opted to start his own business.  At first, he struggled to learn and grasp what it actually means to own your own business.  He invested a great deal of time and a sizeable portion of his savings into this venture.  He worked very hard and his business struggled a bit, but he was finally on his feet, and had just offered a job to one of their former co-workers.  Both men were elated – one because he started a business and was able to help a friend – the other because he “finally found a job”. 

When I visited with my sister over the holidays, I spoke with the man who had started his own business about what he had learned throughout the experience.  One key take away that I wasn’t surprised to hear was “it was harder to do it myself than I thought it would be, but now I don’t have to worry about being laid off or looking for another job.” 

I spoke briefly with him about my role in franchise recruiting with Outdoor Living Brands, and explained how I work with many individuals in similar circumstances to those he faced.  By the end of the conversation, you could see the proverbial light bulb go off – and he stated – “if I had known then what I know now – I would have bought a franchise, and maybe I would have been in a position to hire someone even earlier.”  I was truly inspired that he was looking for ways to be part of the solution to the unemployment problem and not a victim or part of the problem.