With Father’s Day less than week away and the ranks of unemployed men more than doubling over the last year, a growing number of dads are crossing their fingers for the perfect, yet seemingly unobtainable gift: a job.
Fathers and other men should expect to get some relief later this year and in the first part of 2010 as federal stimulus money ignites job creation. In the meantime, the best father’s day gift would be continued assistance and support from family members as these out-of-work men continue their job searches.
The recession has been particularly hard on men. The latest data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the number of unemployed men aged 20 and older has doubled in the last year alone, increasing from 3.7 million in May 2008 to 7.5 million last month. The ranks of unemployed women have also grown during that time, but not nearly as fast. Last month, the BLS counted about 5.6 million out-of-work women aged 20 and over, up from 3.6 million in May 2008.
There are no up-to-date statistics on the percentage of unemployed men who are fathers. However, in 2008 there were 743,000 married couple families with children under age 18 in which the father was unemployed. That was up 18 percent from 628,000 married couple families with unemployed fathers in 2007.
Some have dubbed this recession the ‘man-cession’ because of the heavy impact that the downturn has had on construction, manufacturing and financial services; industries heavily occupied by men. Meanwhile, health care and education, sectors dominated by women, are doing relatively better.
Federal stimulus money, which is slowly working its way into the economy, could help revive some of the job categories that have traditionally attracted more men. However, some of the men displaced because of this downturn, as well as young men still considering their career options, may need to rethink their occupational preconceptions and seek training for careers that they may have overlooked in the past because they were perceived as being ‘women’s jobs.
With Father’s Day coming up, it would be nice if children could simply give an out-of-work dad a new job. Unfortunately, that’s simply not realistic. However, there are things that children and spouses can do this Father’s Day to help dad with his job search.
The best gift is probably much needed moral support. The job search involves a lot of rejection and uncertainty. Simply being there as a cheerleader to boost his morale and keep him focused on the task at hand can be invaluable. Of course, there are more tangible items that can also be useful.
FATHER’S DAY GIFT IDEAS FOR THE JOB-SEEKING DAD
Smart phone with data plan. This may be beyond the financial reach of many kids, but teens with summer jobs can maybe chip in with mom to get dad a smart phone that will allow him to not only make and receive calls while he is out interviewing, but also receive and respond quickly to emails. More and more recruiters are using electronic communications and not seeing an email in response to an interview request until the end of the day could be a set back. At the very least, kids can probably teach their dad the ins and outs of operating these tech devices.
Help with Internetworking. Networking is critical in a successful job search and the Internet and social networking sites represent powerful new tools for connecting with professionals, friends, family, former classmates, etc. For mid-career managers this form of “Internetworking” is a new experience with which they may be unfamiliar or uncomfortable. For young people, however, these new methods of communication are second nature.
Online job searching services. The most effective use of a job seeker’s day is to be out meeting with people and interviewing. Sitting in front of the computer, scouring job boards and employer websites for opportunities, is something that should be reserved for night time. Unfortunately, that does not leave much time for exploring the large haystack that is the Internet. This is where Net-savvy kids can be very helpful. Provided with some search criteria and job details, kids can be very productive ad researchers.
Ironing services. The loss of dad’s income is likely to lead to cutbacks in household spending, particularly on discretionary extras, such as lawn care, house cleaning services and dry cleaning. However, dad needs to look his best on job interviews, so kids can give the gift of laundering and ironing dad’s shirts, making sure his shoes are polished and taking care of other household chores like mowing the lawn and taking out the garbage (without being asked).
Fun, low-cost weekends. Finding a job is a full-time job. It is important to leave the rigors of the job search behind on the weekends in order to recharge. The worst thing one can do is sit around and stew about the frustrations of unemployment. Kids can help by putting off their own weekend plans with friends to focus on keeping dad occupied with low-budget family activities, whether it’s renting movies, game night or a day at the zoo.