This weekend some Americans will gather around their barbeques, some will go camping, and some will enjoy spending their time with their families.

Notice I say, “some.” Why?

As the pandemic continues to move through our communities, it is doing more than threatening the physical health of many. Some communities may be experiencing a flattening of the curve, yet, for many the loss of their jobs through this pandemic means that Labor Day is more than an irony than a reality. They would love to go to bed on Labor Day Monday with the knowledge they will be going to work on Tuesday morning.

We have seen the percentages of unemployment go up weekly since March. In February, the national unemployment rate was 3.5%. However, of that number over 19.2% had been without work for 27 months or more. Keep that last sentence in mind because beginning March 2020, the rolls of the unemployed began to increase rapidly so that by May 31, 2020, the national unemployment rate was 13%. Those people who had been out of work for 27 months or more in February had to compete with a new crowd of unemployed people. Added to this misery is the reality of the job loss: many businesses who did remain open in the pandemic cut their labor force and some simply shuttered their doors completely.

Is there any good news? Yes, agencies like St. Joseph the Worker (602-417-9854) continue to find jobs for homeless individuals every day. (Unfortunately, they recently had to lay off some of their staff due to the pandemic.)

Your neighbor who is experiencing homelessness wants to work. Estimates suggest that !3% to 40% of people experiencing homelessness go to work every day.  The challenge is that their jobs do not pay a living wage so they can afford rent and all the other costs of living. (This is a topic for several more blogs).

What can you do? If you are an employer who is desiring to add staff, do not overlook the potential of a person who is experiencing homelessness. If you are a person of faith, add your prayers to the prayers of the person experiencing homelessness to find a job.

Chaplain Ron Friesen