The Familiar Tales of Unemployment in Peterborough

We all know the negative effects that unemployment can have on a community and the familiar frustration of being just one name in a stack of resumes for the handful of job openings that can actually be found. With Statistics Canada pinning unemployment at %11.7 in Peterborough this April, I wanted to reach out and hear what this means to students starting their summer.

The stories were somewhat familiar to me, personally. I feel lucky to have gotten this very job writing for Arthur, but I can’t survive off of seven and a half hours a week. Part-time work isn’t good enough and I am still actively looking for another job.

Apart from working here, where I already had two years of experience to my advantage in applying, I have gotten only three replies from other job applications. Those three include an occasional, limited time under the table secret shopping job and a very occasional babysitting job. The third is a steadier job that I was interviewed for, but I will not know the answer until next week.

Although at this point I am looking for career-oriented work, I am looking for just any job! This is something a lot of current students and recent graduates face.

I thought for sure that I would have been hired when a new pet store in town needed to hire a whole store’s worth of staff, and I had not one, but two amazing interviews. I waited, waited, and called to follow up only to find out that while the stars had seemed to all be in line, all the hiring was done and they did not need to call me.

Some students have found success in Peterborough, and that’s great! However, many students are either still looking or moving out of Peterborough to find work.

Makala Chapman told Arthur, “I finished my first year of university this summer thinking I would have job security at a local franchise restaurant because I am qualified with previous experience at their restaurant, and left on a good note.”

She found that returning to her previous summer job wasn’t as simple as it seemed. They were apparently overstaffed and other employees were already not getting enough hours.

Another student who works at a pizza restaurant said that she is facing a similar situation there; she is happy to have a job but is not receiving hours enough to put a dent in her school tuition. Seeking a second job is the only answer.

Makala tells us that she did eventually find a food service job outside of town. However, she attends summer school at Trent and it’s far from ideal to work outside of Peterborough.

“I’m starting to think that it’s really just a case of the early bird catches the worm when it comes to finding jobs in Peterborough, a city where competition for jobs is as fierce as finding a good and close parking spot in the Bata parking lot in the middle of a cold winter.”

Jen Boon wrote to us with a totally different story, telling us that she decided to leave Peterborough for the summer in order to find work, and was offered a great contract in Thunder Bay.

She says that given the opportunity she might have considered staying. Jen knows she is lucky to have a good job and mentioned that many of her friends were forced to return to their hometowns, unsure of how to afford tuition and rent next year.

James Abbot wrote to us to tell us a story not unlike Makala’s. After circulating countless resumes throughout Peterborough, confidently targeting jobs where he had meaningful experience, he was forced to accept a job 20 minutes outside of Peterborough.

“It feels ridiculous to be commuting out of town for a minimum wage job.”

Another student who has recently graduated has been doing everything he can to get a job in Peterborough. He’s going to temp agencies, circulating resumes, and looking for work over Kijiji. What’s the problem? He’s only one person amongst countless others doing the exact same thing. Recently he has gone back to his hometown for temporary restaurant work.

“Even though it’s a shitty temporary job, it feels good to be working. I’ve felt pretty defeated looking for a job in Peterborough. It’s depressing to graduate and not find one. My whole life is here. I don’t want to leave.”

For those of us still kicking around in Peterborough, waiting to hear back from previous summer employers, both in Peterborough and our hometowns, the summer sunshine doesn’t bring more hope. It brings more anxiety as the summer goes on without the paycheques we were hoping for.

Whether searching online, visiting Peterborough Employment Centers, or delivering countless resumes across the city, it seems that those who are out of work are desperate for anything and those with work are desperate for more.

What’s the solution to Peterborough’s unemployment problem? Many people are eager to come up with the magic cure.

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