Rome, NY Sucks

But At Least We're Not Utica

Thursday, July 14, 2005

Ready, Willing and Able to Keep You Poor

New York State has decided to go from being merely useless for unemployed job seekers to being actively detrimental. I've been going to Working Solutions for years now. The results have been poor at best. You are forced to go to the office for listings that are made private by employers because they can't be bothered by resumes they don't want. I have never gotten one of those jobs.

I've done the unemployment thing before, too. You file a claim and get turned down. You file a new claim in three months and they ask you why you didn't file the week after you were laid off. You go to a useless meeting where they give you a list of websites consisting of and a bunch of Monster clones. In 13 weeks they look at how many jobs you applied for and leave you alone.

Albany, in it's all too finite wisdom, is now cracking down on unemployment. I guess earning half your pay isn't enough of an incentive to look for a job. The high unemployment rate in the area couldn't possibly be due to high taxes and a hostile business atmosphere. It must be those jerks who worked the previous year and found themselves out of a job.

For those who are lucky enough to be consistently employed, unemployment is based on half of the money you made in your most profitable three month period. If your "high quarter" wage was $5.15 an hour for a 40 hour work week (and almost no minimum wage job is full time) the total would be $103 per week. For this princely sum, you will be required to travel to downtown Utica every week.

I cannot think of a single way in which you can use public transportation to get from Rome to Utica. A cab will cost you over $30. You might as well rent a car for the day for $40. This is not just a Rome thing, either. All the Working Solutions offices have been whittled down to nearly nothing throughout Madison, Oneida and Herkimer counties.

This wouldn't even be so bad if they actually provided a service. The new system seems to be designed solely to give a person grief. There are no efforts to find you a job. If a computerized job listing matches a keyword, the system will mail out a letter. I received just one of those letters during my seven months of unemployment.

No, you are told to go to a series of information sessions and meetings. Those meetings consist of "Blah blah blah, rubber stamp, next!" They mostly want to check your Work Search Record, a decade old bilingual chart to be filled with job contacts that apparently don't include newfangled technologies like e-mail and the fax machine. They want about 10 of these a week, which becomes difficult when the same jobs are in the paper all the time. Let me reiterate. They don't actually help you search, they just make sure you're not some deadbeat, unlike a county employee who sits on their ass all day rubber stamping forms.

New York tried to save money by outsourcing the unemployment process. You call in each week instead of going to an office. Now, you call in each week and go to an office. Plus, it's an office even further away. I have an idea. Save unemployed people the cost of gas and let us call in our job contacts. Then the Working Solutions staff can go on unemployment.


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