Strange timing! I had been planning on writing a six-month update on my job search status and then this COVID-19 pandemic hit. My, oh my.
To briefly catch everyone up, I was employed at Kodak Alaris/Eastman Kodak for 43 years despite almost constant layoffs the last 34 of those years. During that 34-year span, the Kodak workforce in Rochester plunged from 60,000 to less than 2000 employees. Although it tried various strategies, the company just was not able to successfully make the switch from analog to digital technology. Well, Kodak finally did lay me off at the end of September at the age of 63. As part of the separation package, the company provided three months of career transition training and I attended those helpful classes and began applying for jobs in earnest in December. To date, I’ve applied to 71 job postings and have had in-person interviews with 7 companies and phone interviews with another 3 companies. My big drawback is my age. Realistically, scant few hiring managers would be willing to hire a candidate my age and invest in a ton of training just to see the person retire in a few years. Another factor is that with the decline of Kodak, Xerox, and other smaller manufacturers, combined with the sky-high taxes, Rochester, N.Y. is the worst job market in the entire United States (see article* at bottom).
My severance pay ran out at the end of December and I filed for unemployment the start of the year. Meanwhile, my wife went on disability in the beginning of August because of health issues and received half-pay thereafter. However, her workplace stopped paying her at the end of November because their insurance company claims she is able to return to work. My wife’s MD has not advocated for her as strongly as he should have. She’s now in the process of applying for long-term disability. In the meantime, we live on my weekly unemployment checks, which will run out the end of June. I continue to apply for positions matching my skills and experience, but in a few more weeks, as the end of the unemployment checks comes into view, I’ll visit a temp agency (depending on the pandemic situation) and ask for whatever job they can find for me for a year or two.
My wife and I are close enough to retirement that we can survive this without giving up our home, etc. However, so many people are now losing their jobs either temporarily or permanently because of the COVID-19 pandemic and entering the ranks of the unemployed. Probably 95% of companies have suspended all hiring except for those providing essential services and commodities. Even our local unemployment agency is shut down. It’s somewhat pointless to grind through the daily job search activities in light of the current circumstances, but the unemployment protocols must still be followed.
The entire world is in a bit of a “freefall” as this pandemic runs its course. Society is being turned on its head. People are not only losing their jobs, but to date approximately 700 Americans have died from the virus and many more will surely follow. The “security” of being part of the middle-class and the upper-class in American society was always a mirage as we’re now seeing. The world can offer no firm, lasting foundation. For believers, it’s one thing to “talk about” trusting in the Lord, but it’s another thing to actually need to trust in Him. Our faith is in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. No circumstance can separate us from our Shepherd. What a joy and peace it is to know the Lord in this crisis! Let’s be a help to others during these difficult times and a testimony of the Lord’s salvation and goodness.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7
*Wall Street Journal ranks Rochester worst metropolitan job market in United States