Riding the recession wave

News flash:  The economy is in dire straits. It’s no longer a surprise; it’s a reality. It’s likely that someone you know has been affected — or you have, yourself. And it’s possible you will know more. A key question in these times is, "What happens if it’s me? What if I’m laid off?"

While most news focuses on people getting slapped with unemployment, there is a lot of help out there. The city offers it. The county offers it. The state offers it. Compiled here are some things you should know about. It might just help.

By the numbers

 6.9 percent:  Minnesota unemployment rate

 7.2 percent:  U.S. unemployment rate

 2 percent:  percentage of Minnesota jobs lost in 2008

 2,592:  unofficial minimum tally of 2008 layoffs in Minneapolis

 1,036:  unofficial minimum tally of 2009 layoffs so far in Minneapolis

You’ve been laid off. Now what?

Know what you’re getting.  Before you completely cut communication with your now-former employer, make sure you understand the severance package. Figure out what services you’ll continue to get for the time being. Will you be able to extend health insurance coverage? How long? Make sure you’re on top of your finances.

Breathe.  Take a day or two or three to relieve stress.

Apply for unemployment insurance.  The state offers a benefit of up to $566 per week. Don’t wait to do this; the state recommends applying as soon as you’re unemployed. You can keep getting these benefits for months, as long as you’re making a serious effort to get reemployed. (Go to www.uimn.org.)

Update your resume.  If you’ve worked for the same company for decades, chances are you’ve never had to use computers or the Internet to apply for a job. Feel you lack the necessary skills? Computer courses, often free, are available. (See "What the city offers.")

Start looking.  To find a job, tap into old networks. Check websites such as Monster.com and CareerBuilder.com. Go to job fairs. Scan the classifieds. Ask friends and friends of friends.

Definition

Unemployment rate:  The percentage of people actively seeking work compared with those in the labor force. It doesn’t include people who have accepted part-time work as a last resort or who have given up trying to find a job.

What the city offers

Minneapolis offers a slew of help to get you focused and prepared in the face of unemployment. Here are a few features of the Employment and Training Program:

• Help for finding jobs in Minneapolis as an adult or youth

• A dislocated worker program

• Free career workshops

• Help with writing a resume and searching for jobs online

• Training for interviews

For more information, call 673-5298, or go to www.ci.minneapolis.mn.us/cped/metp.asp.

Are there jobs? The short answer: Yes

Finding a job is difficult enough, but doing it during a recession can be near ridiculous. Watching news of layoffs on a near-weekly basis — hundreds of thousands nationally in just the first few weeks of 2009 — only reinforces that idea.

According to the state Department of Employment and Economic Development, 2008 saw a decrease in jobs in almost all Minnesota industries. "Financial activities" and "education and health services" were the only ones to see growth. In Minneapolis, the highest number of layoffs appears to have come within consumer-based companies. (Think Target and Macy’s.)

But believe it or not, some companies are still hiring. A quick search in mid-February on CareerBuilder.com showed 3,447 jobs within 20 miles of Minneapolis, ranging from positions at Wal-Mart to UnitedHealth Group. There even are a few executive openings out there; according to 6FigureJobs.com, almost 30 positions are available in the Twin Cities for those seeking pay above $100,000.

In other words: Keep your resume updated, and keep the hope alive.

Helpful links

Minnesota Unemployment Insurance Program

Minneapolis Employment and Training Program

Expansive list of work finders

Employment Action Center

CareerBuilder.com | Monster.com
In- and out-of-state job listings