LIFE GETS HARDER FOR THE AVERAGE CITIZEN

2 03 2008

….as if you didn’t know.

Well, the New York Times has noticed, so it’s official.

OAKLAND, Calif. — NICOLE FLENNAUGH has a college degree, office experience and the modest expectation that, somewhere in this city on the eastern lip of San Francisco Bay, someone will want to hire her.

But Ms. Flennaugh, 36, a widow, cannot secure steady, decent-paying work to support herself and her two daughters. Nearly two years after she was laid off as a customer service representative at the Educational Testing Service, and even after applying for dozens of full-time jobs, she has been getting by with occasional stints as an office temp.

“You’re used to making $17 an hour with benefits, and now you have to take any job for $8 an hour,” Ms. Flennaugh says. On a recent afternoon, she sat in front of a computer terminal at an employment center in a gritty part of town, scrolling dejectedly through online job listings while sending another batch of applications into the ether.

“I’ve literally sat and cried, but my friends with double degrees are doing worse,” she says. “It’s the economy. It’s really bad.”

 * **

But the bills for Ms. Thomas are still coming due. She lost her car in November 2005 after she fell behind on the payments. Unable to drive to work, she lost her job. Since then, she has been unable to find a job.

Several times, she has landed interviews that seemed likely to bring offers, but the jobs required a credit check — a test she cannot pass.

“My credit is just so in shambles,” she told a classroom full of people gathered for a credit counseling session at the Private Industry Council. “More and more jobs are checking your credit. They’re saying that credit is a reflection of your character.”

Ain’t that a double whammy of a double bind?  I tell you folks, that’s compassionate conservatism in action!

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