Friday, November 27, 2015

Thanksgiving blessings: Work in tough economy

Thanksgiving offers a time each year to take stock of our blessings, and I make a regular practice of listing things I am thankful for. To begin with, I feel blessed by the work I do in southern Oregon’s extremely tough economy.

To recap: I work part-time as Library Assistant at Bellview Elementary School. I sew, pack orders and generate shipping labels for an orthopedic positioning cushion manufacturer, Body Support Systems.

I serve as web content editor and provide administrative support for the Religious Explorations program at Rogue Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. Finally, I assemble brims and crowns of hats for Hat People of southern Oregon.

Just how tough is the economy in Ashland and in southern Oregon? In 2013, a fact sheet issued by the Oregon Center for Public Policy declared that “If poverty were a city in Oregon, it would be the state’s largest city.”

The fact sheet cited a poverty rate in Oregon of 17.2 percent, adding that in spite of national economic recovery, more than 120,000 Oregonians fell below the poverty line after the official end of the nation’s Great Recession in June 2009.

At the same time, high joblessness and low wages have more families than ever seeking affordable housing.

(Unemployment in Jackson County, Oregon was 6.3 percent in September, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The national unemployment rate was 5.0 percent for October.)

In 2013, more than 5,000 people were on a waiting list through the Housing Authority of Jackson County and, as reported by KDRV NewsWatch 12, the only way the housing authority expected things to get better was if the economy improved or if more low-income units were built.

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