The stupid economy

Career counselors lose jobs
By LORI SHAPIRO  |  December 5, 2008

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This past week, I stopped by Career Source in Cambridge to file for unemployment. The office, dedicated primarily to helping people get jobs, or training so they can change jobs, processes claims only two days a week, so I was prepared to wait. I was sitting patiently, trading layoff stories with the other recently jobless, when we heard someone crying nearby.

That someone: a Career Source employee locked in an embrace with a colleague. Then a man, bundled up in his winter gear and carrying a box, walked past, headed for the exit. More people came through with boxes, some of them calm, others near hysterics. The scene was familiar. I myself had gone down a similar path a week earlier, when I “left” my job as a recruiter for a nonprofit — except then, I was one of the people embracing colleagues and walking out of the building in tears.

I waited more than an hour that day, only to be told I would need to come back later — they were capped at how many claims the one man processing them could handle that morning. A frustrating experience, yes, but just more proof of how terrible and scary today’s economy really is. We, the unemployed, could not help but feel disheartened watching the very people meant to help us losing their jobs.

Career Source is operated by the private nonprofit Employment Resources Inc., and is part of the state’s One-Stop Career Center system. Until recently, explains Career Source director Linda Rohrer, the 32 Career Centers across Massachusetts worked under contract with the state Department of Transitional Assistance. Losing that contract, and the public funding that came with it, led to the layoffs (which affected six of the Cambridge office’s 30 employees).

The next day I was able to file my claim seamlessly, and there were no signs of further layoffs. Rohrer says the Career Source office plans to stay open and that she’s optimistic about rebuilding in 2009.

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