“The Bus Does Not Go Where the Paychecks Are”

An excellent column by Peter S. Goodman at Huffington Post highlights the fact that in many American municipalities unemployed workers cannot get to jobs simply cannot get to jobs where they might otherwise be able to be working again. He cites the example of 49-year old Lebron Stinson of Chattanooga, TN, who does not own a car and has had to forego several jobs because he can’t get to the workplace every day. I have earlier written on my 2009 layoff and the way that unemployment can descend into the even worse phenomena of ‘disemployment,’ and here a statement by Stinson makes clear the erosion these forces exert on his self-esteem:

“’That’s the thing that hurts me the most, having experience and qualifications, but you can’t get to the destination,’ Stinson says. ‘It’s a painful situation here. I’ll tell you, I’m not one to give up hope, but, man, it makes your self-esteem drop. Your confidence disappears. Sometimes, I just can’t think about it. You get so it’s all that’s in your head. I need a job, but I can’t get there. I just want to feel like I’m back, like I’m part of the world again.’”

Citing statistics that show the low percentage of the population with access to adequate public transportation, Goodman writes,

“On top of the most catastrophic economic downturn since the Great Depression, the continued impact of automation, and the shift of domestic production to lower-wage nations, here is a less dramatic yet no less decisive constraint that limits opportunities for many working-age Americans: The bus does not go where the paychecks are.”

H/t Melanie Hamilton who posted this piece on Facebook where I first saw it.

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