Whenever I leave my little corner of the web and venture over to one of the big Democratic cheerleading sites, I’m told that we’re in the middle of a slow but steady economic recovery. Strange, I think to myself, because it sure doesn’t look that way from where I’m sitting.
Until the beginning of this year, my partner and I were at least getting by. Our freelance business wasn’t exactly setting the world on fire, but we were able to cover the basics. This year, however, virtually every one of our repeat clients has disappeared. Since two-thirds of our clients are repeat business, this is huge. And replacing them with new clients has proven extremely difficult. Not only are there far fewer projects to go around, but the small businesses we serve have become increasingly price-conscious, frequently expecting freelancers to work for next to nothing. If they hire anyone at all, that is. A substantial percentage of projects is simply canceled.
This is why we’ve been desperate to find full-time employment. Every day we comb the newspapers’ Help Wanted sections and the online job boards, and every day we notice how few jobs are available. So I wasn’t surprised to find the following statistic on the website of one of the large job aggregators:
In our area, there’s been a 49% drop in job postings compared to last year.
Nationwide, there’s been a 32% decline.
Source: Indeed.com (a site that aggregates job postings from newspapers, job sites, associations, and company career pages)
So much for that recovery, huh?
In the real economy, the one that matters to most people, things are not getting better. They’re still getting worse. And neither one of the two major parties is going to do a damn thing about it.
As for us, thanks to the awesome people who’ve donated to this blog and a couple of dear friends who chipped in, we were able to pay the May rent earlier this week. Unfortunately the June rent is due in less than two weeks, and we have no clue what we’re going to do. We’ve already had to get an extension on some of our bills.
There are no unemployment benefits for freelancers who can’t find work and there’s no welfare for ABAWDs (Able-bodied Adults Without Dependents). The fact that we started freelancing because we couldn’t find permanent, full-time work is irrelevant. People like us fall through the cracks of the already tattered safety net, and there are more of us every day.
Finally, I want to give you all an update on Balou. Twice this month, we felt certain we were going to lose him. First, there was the horrible night when he wouldn’t stop bleeding. The blood soaked right through the towels and blankets, forming enormous puddles on the carpet. We didn’t expect him to make it through the night, but the next morning he amazed us by staggering to his feet and wanting his breakfast. Then, the following week, he stopped eating, and we thought that was the end for sure. But 24 hours later, he had regained his appetite.
So Balou is still with us. Since his health deteriorated when I was forced to reduce his supplement dosage, we’re making his supplements and nutrition a priority, even if that means there’s no money for other necessities. I expect that our phone will be turned off any day now.
On top of everything, I continue to deal with my own health problems. Sometimes the pain gets to be really bad, but mostly it’s tolerable. Or maybe it’s just that I’m getting used to it. I try not to dwell on what it could mean, since there’s nothing I can do about it anyway.