Twenty-two months of unemployment provides plenty of opportunities for discouragement to settle in, as Rosemarie Amato knows all too well. For close to two years, the former employment coordinator for the homeless fought through one of the toughest job markets in decades and wondered if she would ever find a full-time job again.
“After six months I felt like a hamster on one of those turn-wheels,” Amato, 51, said. “It began to feel really, truly desperate.”
Last year, after dozens of interviews, Amato finally landed a job at Future Attainment of Success Starts Today in Pawtucket. But data shows there are millions more people in the same desperate position as Amato was, and some of them are simply giving up.
The U.S. Department of Labor said that in April 1.2 million workers had given up hopes of finding a job, up by 457,000 from a year earlier. Nationally, 45.9 percent of the unemployed – or 6.7 million people – had been out of work for 27 weeks or more. In Rhode Island, 42 percent of the unemployed were out of work for 27 weeks or more; 22 percent have been out of work for at least a year, according to the R.I. Department of Labor and Training.
Many of the unemployed who have not lost hope show up at the door of Anne Marie Marge, director of career placement and cooperative education at the Community College of Rhode Island. In good times, many employed people went to CCRI to gain a competitive edge for a better job, Marge said. These days, workers – many of them older and shocked at being unemployed – are coming after months out of the labor force.
“It’s more out of necessity now rather than somebody who’s feeling they want to change for their personal satisfaction,” Marge said.
Amato was one of those people. She headed to CCRI for its associate’s degree program in paralegal studies in 2008 after months of fruitless job searching. Besides taking classes, she knocked on Marge’s door asking about unpaid internships.