Inquirer: How unemployment affects men

David Clyburn reads in the Nicetown Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia as he waits for a computer to use in his search for a job. (Photo by  BONNIE WELLER / Staff Photographer)
David Clyburn reads in the Nicetown Branch of the Free Library of Philadelphia as he waits for a computer to use in his search for a job. (Photo by BONNIE WELLER / Staff Photographer)

I have a clip in today’s Philadelphia Inquirer on the emotional effects unemployment can have on men.

Thomas Schuler is a man.

Since October, he also has been without a job, a combination of characteristics that some say comes with distinct disadvantages. Read the rest here.

Below see the loads of good information and quotes that didn’t make it into the final story.

First things first, go read the story, comment there and then come back and check out this extra insight.

Dr. Jerry Jacobs
Sociology Professor whose research focuses on labor | University of Pennsylvania

  • “It’s worse in an economy like today because lots of men who are in white collar, professional positions, who never thought they’d be unemployed, are facing that reality, emotions flare.”
  • The emotional response, Jacobs said, has a lot to do with how long the unemployment lasts. At first it can seem like an opportunity, but as the months drag on, it’s more than deflating.
  • “It matters how long you stay out of work. When I first got unemployed, maybe I saw it as opportunity. Six months later, well, that isn’t the case anymore.”
  • “The current unemployment rates have hit men harder because of the sectors of the economy affected. There were worse drops in sectors like construction than in education and health care.”
  • “In the 1930s, relatively few married women worked. If a man lost a job that was a crisis. It’s concern today, but it does not mean the same today.”
  • “There are lots of possible results, like increased crime, domestic violence, increased depression.”
  • “So many folks are retooling, going back to school for education. There are increases in enrollment in continuing education programs.”

Andy Hathaway, Germansville, Pa.
Electrical Engineer
four kids aged 15 to 21

  • “I didn’t see it coming,” he said. He scanned the others who were getting fired and thought “now they’re cutting into the talent.”
  • Hathaway says he is blessed with a good severance package but won’t be able to save college money for his four children, aged 15 to 21. And it’s only temporary.
  • “You try to shelter the kids, but, yeah, I think sometimes I get angry with my wife unfairly now,” he said.
  • “You watch the evening news or see the numbers about all the layoffs, the highest unemployment rate in years, and you think, ‘Hey, I’m one of them. I’m one in that number,” he said. “Now your competition is going to be at its highest. All the numbers are saturated, and I’m in the club.”
  • “It is slightly comforting that this is such an unusual time. I know good quality people are cut. It’s not just personal, performance related.”
  • “My friends call me ‘unemployed Floyd.’ Yeah, I know, good friends,” he said laughing. “We’re not going to cry together, but they were the first ones here after I found out, trying to make me laugh and keep my mind off it.”
  • His company closed between seven and ten plants worldwide. His company acquired an older company he was with in 2000, allowing 23 years as an electrical engineer.
  • Most of us were surprised, maybe 3,000 people gone. Fortunately or unfortunately, we thought that would be it. Then another 80-100 came Nov. 20.”
  • I didn’t see it coming.
  • As long as [my wife and I] were still living the same lifestyle, able to put away for my kids’ college I wouldn’t mind so much.
  • I had a very good job., That’s very difficult to replace.

Piers Marchant, 42, Queen Village
Editor-in-Chief | Magazine

  • His first lay off came days after closing on a new house and three months before getting married. (Closed Philly AOL office in 2003, offered to relocate to Chicago)
  • “What an auspicious way to begin a life together.”
  • “Being unemployed sucks in lots of ways, of course. But it makes you feel disenfranchised, like you have no place to call home,” he said.
  • “Like there’s a party and I’m not invited. I’m not engaging or interestng enough to get the job. It started to give me a complex.”
    “It took me a really long time to find another gig. I had to commute to New York for a summer, which was a drag.” (rehired AOL Time Warner May 2005, laid off again by 2007)
  • “I think my ego was not going to let me take just anything. I wanted something that would have the same weight has what I had.”
  • “The relationship got harder and it got harder to look your wife in the eye because you felt every time she looked at your lack of jobfulness.”
  • “The thing I do regret, I had an enormous amount of time. I could have written a novel or done something extraordinary. I guess I was much too caught up in the sense of ‘I’ve got to beat this.’ I really didn’t use that time as constructively.”

Carl Grant, 58, Haddington

  • “It’s always going to effect men differently than it does women,” said Carl Grant, 58, of the Haddington neighborhood of West Philly. “For too long men were the providers.”
  • “It wrecked my life,” Grant said. “I built my life around that $31,000 a year.”
  • “So what makes a man?”
  • “I am a little angrier than I was before. You want to stay positive but trouble is all around,” he said. “It’s like a fish trying to stay out of water.”

Thomas Shuler, 49, West Philadelphia
Facilities engineer
Three children, aged 31, 24, 14; Four grandchildren, aged 15, 13, 8, 3

  • “These are the most crucial and critical times I’ve ever seen, and I’ve lived through some things.”
  • “She’s [lady friend] used to me spending my money when we go out, but now she’s paying for our dates or lending me money.” he said. “I think she liked the idea of her strong, prosperous capable man handling everything for her. I find myself landing on her more than I feel comfortable with.”
  • The numbers don’t add up, Schuler says. He was earning $2200 a month and paying a monthly mortgage of $900. His $1,600 unemployment check doesn’t stretch enough, and his job prospects appear dim.
  • “It simply comes down to testosterone, I guess. The alpha male, the bread winner, the provider: we’re strong, confident.”
  • “My joy and my fun with them isn’t as natural,” he said. “Because my sense of self feels deflated.”
  • “In every crisis, there is opportunity.”
  • “I’m looking at personal growth and personal development. Find my spiritual life. Going back to school, get some more education.”
  • As a man work makes me feel proud in myself. I don’t have the same sense of self now.
  • I have three children and four grandsons. They’re the coolest little dudes in the world.
  • He has had less time to be with his kids and grandkids, to teach them model rocketry and chess, the hobbies he had when he was young and growing up in Germantown.

David Clyburn, 52, Nicetown
Chemical plant packer, IT technician

  • “More and more women are working, of course.”
  • “Christmas was smaller this year. I felt like I was letting my family down.”
  • “It [working] brings [me] a different kind of reality. You think things differently.
  • “Men of my generation were brought up the front-runner, the breadwinners and were taught to do things and make things happen. We would be the hunters going out and bringing something back.”
  • “With a job, you’re part of something,” he said. “You’re part of a company and moving to a higher bracket, working for something.”
  • “My wife is very supportive. I was the one feeling some kind of way.

John Towson needs a subway token. He wouldn’t meet for an interview without one and didn’t have the time to be on the phone. The West Philadelphian needs to find a job, too. He has found the Philadelphia Unemployment Project as a resource like …

Anyone make it through all of that? Any of it interesting or did I cut what needed to get cut!?

6 thoughts on “Inquirer: How unemployment affects men”

  1. Hey, nice article. I’m a little too tired (been working from midnight) and a little much at work to fully and critically analyse it. Sorry. Just read it over once.

  2. do you have anything to substantiate your claim besides a one-sentence conjecture towards the top?

  3. Andrew, I have to say I am a little puzzled as to why you think your New York Times blog post conflicts with my story. It points to some polling that says women are worrying more about financial security, but that isn’t to come in conflict with my story which follows how men are affected by unemployment differently – namely affected it personally, not family-wide. I don’t see the conflict, so help me out -right now I like my clip just fine.

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