Point of View

Part-time job, full-time fear as federal benefits end in NC

July 11, 2013 

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SIMON ASKHAM — Getty Images/iStockphoto

I am among the 70,000 North Carolinians (soon to be 170,000 ) who have lost their federal extended unemployment benefits. I am in the majority, over 50 (I’m 60) and male, who have succumbed to a forced departure from working. I lost over 50 weeks of benefits that allowed me to budget my life’s expenditures. I never viewed them as a handout. I viewed them as a helping hand, available in life’s unexpected turn of events, that I earned.

It’s been over a year for me, after over 35 years in management, of which 22 were with the same company. I was finally hired to build bicycles as a seasonal job last Christmas and then hired as the same this spring by two retailers, neither of which can give me the hours I need to stay afloat.

When you are part-time, which is a majority of working adults (this week the Department of Labor statistics show that only 47 percent of adults had full-time jobs), you live on hope that your efforts will improve your scheduled hours. When you are part-time, your employer gets to pay lower payroll taxes because it has to match only your FICA deductions. Your net check amount is inflated because you didn’t make the minimum for proper taxes to be taken out, which puts you behind the 8 ball come year’s end based on your total earnings when taxes are due.

I have sent out resumes daily and made phone calls and personal visits that never end to companies that are related to my work experiences and to those that are not. All profess to be Equal Employment Opportunity Employers, yet they are allowed to use adjectives to describe my disqualification from employment. My age and the age of the majority of the other soon-to-be 170,000 residents with no federal unemployment benefits are the principle cause of our continued need for benefits. Go into any business and look around and observe who is working. Do they represent you?

Throughout my career, I gave many individuals their first jobs and took that job seriously by coaching their work performances so they could move on to better things in their lives. All of us had extensive amounts of training dollars spent making us better workers, not only to improve ourselves but also the employer, so why now are we disqualified from being a productive work force because of our age or gender? I think it’s a criminal act based on my reading of the EEO policy that I stood by for so many years. Different words used to discriminate again and again.

I recently went to a bankruptcy lawyer to assist in my crisis, and what I got was, “You don’t have a debt problem, you having an earning problem. You need to look for better employment opportunities.” My words:, “You’re an idiot. Of course any debt problem is related to earnings capacity.” I fear for my house, yet I was told I don’t have a right to own a house. I fear – I fear every day that something I worked for, I own, will be taken away from me because I can’t find proper employment because of the bias that exists.

Be aware of what our legislature and governor are doing. They need to increase the revenues by increasing taxes as the numbers of unemployed grow in this state. Lowering or canceling the benefits equates to less sales tax revenues.

Our state’s leaders calling me and others “morons” or “outsiders” just demonstrates why we all should fear.

Richard Culross lives in Fuquay-Varina.

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