Reports of over 236,000 new jobs were created last month and a drop in the unemployment rate from 7.9 to 7.7, made the headlines beginning early in the morning. The numbers were surprising to many believing they would be much lower with all the concerns waged about the sequester and a sluggish economy in general. Early-morning talk shows and radio commentaries were good for consumers. The rise in market confidence just a day before with the stock market closing at a record high, were glimpses into what might be a sustainable economic rebound.
Such news paints optimism in all sectors of the economy. The thought that things overall are getting better heightens expectations and creativity even in low-income communities. There is something about “outside” optimism that strengthens even the poor. Their confidence rises as they gaze into the world of the haves, even if they have not. Market volatility has to succumb at some point, to some very basic factors to stabilize: regain confidence in the market, have a belief in the market over a period of time, acknowledge a confidence in hiring, and next exemplify a willingness to risks hiring, and then hire. The same factors that drive the market into action and caused national unemployment rates to drop, will be required in low wealth communities. The difference being, is the creation of a business base will have to be inspired by community engagement to hire its own as the labor force.
Low-income communities are faced with the biggest challenge of all. If they are inspired by recent numbers to be optimistic about the job market and look forward to entering the workforce, then the well from which to draw that opportunity is dry. Given this dilemma, be courageous. Take on the responsibility and create your own marketplace and afterwards hire. There is a saying that “little becomes much.” Low-income communities and their aggregated households must embrace the fundamental of this principle. Six-figure incomes and five even, may not be the outcome of community engagement at the business development level, but it will demonstrate to outside forces that the community wishes self-reliance as a living option and therefore, takes a historic position.
There is a call for all households in the region to think entrepreneurial and business like. Ask yourself, am I willing to set aside a few dollars each week or month to OJH- Odd Job Hire? Am I willing to make the sacrifice? If yes, what are everyday chores that you do, that you would be willing to assign to someone else, for hire. Odd jobs can be a source of meaningful income for a number of age ranges. Teenagers and young adults, are the most vulnerable and in the most dire strait for income that keeps them safe and the community safer. OJH helps to build self-esteem, prepares them for job readiness, builds proficient soft skills, and provides them with needed experience across a number of potential specialties that help their life’s work. Wondering what the OJH model might look life?
Families in low wealth communities should first consider hiring family first, relatives and neighbors, and then of course, those affiliated with family and friends. Contracting services among family members can be tricky. It is most important that you identify tasks and measure performance. If you hire to clean the garage, consider a spread sheet that captures the organization that has occurred. If your OJH does not know how to use a spreadsheet, or does not have a computer, teach them to be resourceful. Facebooking a friend, or using a smartphone for a tutorial session works along with a call to the nearest community college. Even still, a school counselor or favorite teacher can be a tremendous asset.
Do you have a garage to clean? Cabinets to organize? Rooms to tidy up.Landscaping work to be done? Grass to cut? Deck to be built? Need plumbing work? Windows replaced? Managing web content? Cooking? Cleaning? Car washed? Hair done? Child care? Elder Care? Tailoring done? Events to be planned? Baking done? Cooking done? Such news paints optimism in low wealth communities.
Finding work for a community with tremendous employment needs can overwhelm your thinking. Yet, with a commitment to be the inspiration for your own employment growth, can reduce the weight of the tasks, and define the voice of the poor more clearly; empowering its community from within, so aid can come to walk alongside.