America Out of Work…A rising sense of futility
A 54-year-old former machinist finds his options limited after losing his job two years ago.
By Alana Semuels
Los Angeles Times
In four decades in the working world, Raul Vargas has been a musician, a salesman and a construction worker. But since getting laid off from his machinist’s job, Vargas hasn’t landed anything but occasional day labor stints moving furniture or doing yard work.
The downturn has been tough on former factory hands such as Vargas. U.S. manufacturers have shed more than 1.6 million jobs over the last two years; these workers, on average, have remained jobless longer than the long-term unemployed in most sectors.
Vargas, 54, figures he’s contacted hundreds of people about work, in dozens of different fields. He’s a popular figure at the Rosemead WorkSource Center, where he’s such a fixture that he often helps newcomers get oriented. As part of his daily networking routine, he also stops by warehouses and restaurants to ask if they have openings.