The new reality

The Washington Post is the latest U.S. media outlet to weigh in on how much tougher it is for ex-offenders to find jobs in this economic climate. In the DC area, in fact, employment figures for former felons are the worst they’ve ever been.

Unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any short-term fixes to this problem. For about the last six-months I’ve been adapting my class to reflect these new realities.. More than ever, I emphasize getting a job, any job, to build a record of employment. When one student recently told me there were some jobs she just couldn’t do, like working at McDonald’s, one of her classmates was quick to point out – rightly- that she would probably have a hard time finding one there right now.

This might seem pretty obvious, but don’t be surprised if you feel a disconnect when you get out — particularly if you began serving a sentence more than two years ago. Even with his family members telling him how bleak things were, one former construction manager who took my class couldn’t believe how difficult it was to find something. He’s now working part-time at a restaurant, but fears his hours may be cut back even further since fewer people are eating out.

The silver lining to all this gloom: A sea change in American attitudes means there’s no shame in any job you take now. If nothing else, with money no longer free, the value of actual work — any work — seems to have come back into style. Particularly with the right attitude, as these stories illustrate.

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Filed under economy, jobs ex-offenders, unemployment

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