Jobs few and far between for Carbondale woman
December 24, 2008
CARBONDALE ” Carbondale resident Billie Shafer wishes she didn’t have so much time on her hands.
Shafer, 59, has been out of work since August, when she was laid off from Harbert Lumber Co. in Glenwood Springs. Since then, she’s been living off of her savings, but Shafer expects that to be tapped out by January.
She picks up a few clerical jobs through temp services, but it’s hardly enough to pay her personal bills. Shafer’s last temporary job in September was for two weeks for the
city of Basalt, with Town Manager Bill Efting.
“She is a nice lady and was well qualified,” Efting said.
The 33-year valley resident said she applies for between five and 10 jobs every week. But there has been no interest in her thus far.
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“Nobody seems to want me,” Shafer said. “I feel isolated, like I am the only one who doesn’t have a job, but I know that it’s not true.”
With the nation officially in a recession, Shafer is one of thousands of Americans who are unemployed, and one of many in the Roaring Fork Valley feeling the job market
getting tighter and tighter.
Shafer finds herself competing with dozens of residents for the same jobs. Employers are so inundated with applicants they don’t even bother calling everyone who applies.
“They could at least call me back, but the job market is [such] that they don’t care,” she said, adding she waits a week and then calls only to find out the position has been filled. “Nowadays, there are 50 million people applying for your job.”
Shafer said she gets up every morning, goes to the store, gets the newspapers and looks for jobs in the employment sections.
“I get up in the morning and I don’t have any place to go,” she said.
Shafer said she has sent nearly 30 applications in her quest for a full-time job.
“I’m getting to the point that I’m depressed,” she said. “It’s Christmas, and I need to
Feeling alone, Shafer was hoping to find others like her in the same situation. Then she read about a newly formed group called “Unemployment Anonymous,” launched by 64-year-old Aspenite Gette Vhrin, who was laid off a year ago.
While she hasn’t attended a formal meeting, Shafer said she plans to in the future.
She said she worked at Harbert Lumber for four or five months, and thought it was a permanent position. And even though she didn’t anticipate being let go, she saved as much money as she could.
“By the end of the summer, people don’t want to build anymore,” she said. “Then I got nixed.”
Shafer has been married for 38 years, and relies on her husband, a salesman, to pay the mortgage. But she said she’s embarrassed to ask him for money.
“It’s humiliating,” Shafer said. “It’s just a horrible feeling … some nights I get about two
hours of sleep.”
Last week, she applied for unemployment.
“I have a college education,” said the Iowa native who moved to Aspen in 1975.
During most of that time, Shafer worked in the hospitality industry, including at the Aspen Meadows and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association’s information desk at the airport.
“There, I always hired retired people because they are reliable,” she said, adding she hopes her unsuccessful bid for a job isn’t a result of her age. “I am applying for anything … the thing is, is that you have the skills but so do many other people.”