According to an article published in yesterday’s Los Angeles Times Business section, the UCLA Anderson Forecast is predicting, based on current trends, that the nation’s unemployment rate will rise to 5.2% by mid 2008 from its present 4.6%.
While a 0.6% jump in unemployment may not seem like a big deal to many people, I’m sure that it will definitely have an impact on those who find themselves unemployed.
The article goes on to outline a number of other things – none of them good – which could push this nation close to recession.
The problem with the economy is that it is in a constant state of flux – it goes up; it goes down. All the while people are being affected. But then, that’s the way life goes, isn’t it? However, in the process, people will lose their jobs. Some will be able to find new employment within a reasonable amount of time, but others will find themselves falling deeper in debt, and some will undoubtedly become homeless.
All of the people who will be affected by the rise in unemployment are just regular folk. They are not derelicts or social outcasts. They aren’t dirty grungy people who are lazy. They’re just trying to do the best they can to make ends meet. But if, as a result of a prolonged period of unemployment, they find themselves homeless, society will most certainly look down upon them – not because they’ve lost everything, but simply because they’re homeless.
How do I know this?
Because I’ve met many a homeless person who have gone through similar scenarios, and are now treated by the mainstream community as though they are the scum of the earth. They are people who at one time had employment, a place to live and hopes of a better life. Circumstances, however, dictated otherwise. Now they find themselves struggling just to find something to eat and a relatively safe place to sleep at night.
It isn’t that they lack the desire to get out of living life on the streets. It isn’t that they aren’t willing to work. A good number of homeless have full time jobs. The jobs they have simply don’t pay enough for them to even begin to make an upward movement in their lives.
The increase in the cost of housing, the decline in the number of affordable housing units, the lack of jobs that provide adequate pay, the rise in health care costs: all of these things make it more difficult for a person who is homeless to find a way out of the hole into which they have fallen.
Most definitely there are those who have chosen homelessness as their preferred lifestyle. Yes, there are those who have become homeless due to unwise choices they have made. And, yes, there are those who have become homeless due to drug and alcohol abuse. However, the majority of homeless aren’t so by choice.
Today, when you go out and about with your daily routine, think about your family, friends and co-workers. Think about any other number of people you know. How many of them might possibly become affected by the rise in unemployment. And if they become homeless as a result of it, what then? How will you see them? Will you still think as highly of them as you do now? Or will you think less of them? Will you saddle them with the stigma that so many of this nation’s homeless live with each day?
And what if you’re one of those who become a casualty of the rise in the unemployment rate?
Just thought I’d ask…