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EDITORIALS

These are challenging times for some Kansas workers

By The Editorial Advisory Board

Many Kansans are facing an unsettled holiday season.

Perhaps they’ve lost a job and are looking for a new one. Perhaps their current employer has cut hours or is facing financial uncertainty. Perhaps they hope to advance in their careers but see the pandemic-disrupted landscape and recoil.

We’re not going to sit here and tell you things are great right now. Obviously Kansas faces big challenges. In Shawnee County alone, some 4,681 workers are without jobs, Topeka Capital-Journal reporter India Yarborough wrote. That’s a bit above 5%, and while it’s certainly better than the county’s April unemployment rate of 12.2%, it’s still concerning for everyone who wants a robust economy.

Thankfully, Yarborough’s story shows something else important. Jobs are out there, and at least some employers are hiring. Not all of the jobs would be perfect matches to those that potential workers lost or might be looking to leave, but that’s often the case in thriving economies as well.

Decades of research have shown that extended periods of unemployment aren’t only difficult when they’re occurring but can haunt workers for years through lost wages. So it makes sense for a person’s long-term career prospects, even if it might be disorienting, to find a new job as soon as possible after losing an old one.

Our society doesn’t deal with the challenge of unemployment well. Those who lose their jobs, even during a recession, can feel ashamed. We too often tie personal worth and accomplishment to job performance. As a result, many may be tempted to stay in bed and avoid the possible rejection and uncomfortable situations that arise from looking for a job during a pandemic. That understandable, but it’s worth resisting.

We can change, too. We should demand that legislators in Washington, D.C., quickly pass another round of assistance for those affected by the pandemic. We should make sure our representatives at the state and local level are doing everything to support those of us who are going through tough times.

And if you or someone you know owns a business or is looking to hire, understand the opportunity that you may present to another human being this holiday season.

With vaccines on the way — in fact, with them being administered right now — we can all hope that pandemic will soon be a memory. But we have to make it through these next few weeks and months, and we have to look out for one another.