Rick Badie's Gwinnett: Another holiday without work

Excuse Bob Hanson for not feeling particularly charitable or jolly these days. The Loganville resident has been in search of what he calls a “legitimate” job for some time.

In May, I wrote a piece about Hanson saying that he, like hundreds of thousands of decent people in the good ole USA, sought employment. My hope was that he’d have something by now.

“Still looking,” he wrote in an e-mail. “I’ve applied for approximately 300 jobs since losing my last one in Nov. 2009. This does not count cold phone calls asking about possible openings.”

The work he’s found has been part-time, commission only. The only employers who have wanted to give him the time of day offer commission-only gigs. No benefits, no expenses, no base salary.

“I don’t count these as legitimate jobs,” he wrote.

Who would?

I wish this were a different tale, given that the Great Recession, supposedly, is officially over. For many, though, post-recession life churns just as bleakly as it did in December 2007, the official debut of the economic collapse.

Ho, ho, ho.

I wish I could wax on about how better things are for Hanson. How his is a holiday of cheer.

Sadly, he remains one of the roughly 17 percent of work-ready Americans who are unemployed, underemployed or have given up the job hunt altogether.

Imagine what that does to the psyche. To one’s health, emotions, self-worth and that thing called pride.

This week, AJC reporter Dan Chapman wrote a story that statistically compared the December 2007 and November 2010 home values, bank failures, foreclosure notices and such.

This recession, the story explained, scarred more than the traditional victims — in essence the poor, the young and the minorities. The middle class, the senior citizens and the white residents of suburbia felt its sting, too.

Hanson, who for the past 25 years had been a customer service manager, account executive or sales manager for railroad lines and trucking firms, fits the two latter categories.

“I’m trying to make my previous salary,” the UGA grad wrote, “but you must consider that I have already taken cuts totaling about 30 percent of my salary of 1999. You try getting by on 70 percent of your salary of 11 years ago and see how well you make out.”

One can only imagine.

Then this from the 60-something railroad historian: “I sometimes wonder where my life came off the rails, so to speak. I feel like I’ve done all anyone asked of me, got generally very good evaluations, but still — here I am.”

All he wants is a job that pays a salary and offers benefits. All he wants is a job that pays him enough to live on. And in 13 months of looking, he’s gotten zilch.

Recently, Hanson heard a Republican congressman on NPR give the typical party spiel about the need to end unemployment benefit extensions to encourage folk to go to work.

“Where do they get these people?” Hanson wondered.

Good question.

Rick Badie, an Opinion columnist, is based in Gwinnett. Reach him at rbadie@ajc.com or 770-263-3875.