Father’s Day can be a real downer for millions of unemployed dads.
“Many children would undoubtedly like to simply give an out-of-work dad a new job,” said job-search expert and father of five John Challenger. “Unfortunately, that’s simply not realistic.”
Challenger of outplacement firm Challenger Gray & Christmas in Chicago said the number of jobless men over age 20 reached nearly 8.4 million in October 2009. And despite lauded improvements in the job market since then, the job market recovery has been slow.
“While men are seeing solid job gains, it will take several months, if not years, for male employment to return to pre-recession levels,” he says.
The nation’s unemployment rate was 9.7% in May, down from 9.9% in April, but still nauseatingly high. On Friday, the Labor Department reported declines in the unemployment rate in 37 states. Unfortunately, they came on the backs of people who have given up looking for work. Click here to read about that.
Challenger notes it’s been called the “man-cession” for the extreme toll it’s taken on male-dominated jobs, such as financial services, construction and manufacturing.
Meanwhile, dad may feel that time is running out, especially as U.S. Senate Republicans have blocked a bill to extend unemployment benefits once again. Click here to read about that.
So what can anyone do for the unemployed dad?
Challenger suggests perhaps converting business cards that dad amasses in his job search to digital files for his computer and phone.
Shining his shoes, pressing his shirts, and keeping him looking his best for interviews. Or how about a new pair of shoes to replace the rubber and leather he’s worn away on the job hunt?
“The best gift is probably much needed moral support,” Challenger said.
It’s sad but true, but a lot of dads define themselves by what they do. And when they’re unemployed they may feel they are doing nothing.
Doing nothing. Being nothing. That’s a heavy toll on a dad who tries to be everything to his family.
And add to that the constant barrage of rejection, and worse, having resumes and job applications ignored altogether.
The best thing may be just to reassure dad that he is going through an economic cycle that is largely out of his control. That his anguished search for a new job is noble, even heroic, at a time when they’re just aren’t enough jobs to go around.
That, in the end, he is not defined by his job or lack thereof. He is defined as dad.