Employment rates are on the rise (Philadelphia area rate job growth rate was 4.4 percent in August 2021 compared to last August*), but do marginalized groups have access to the abundance of new positions, and how is the lack of opportunities affecting their mental health? JEVS Human Services’ expert career advisor, Samara Fritzsche, MSW, LSW, spoke with verywellmind to discuss the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and joblessness on many marginalized groups (defined as those who live on the fringe of mainstream America and often lack the ability to improve their life situation.).
“Many people who were previously working in customer-facing roles and within the hospitality industry, and were laid off due to the pandemic, are still struggling to find jobs that feel safe to return to. Due to COVID, many people still don’t feel safe returning to service industry positions, even if they are vaccinated,” Fritzsche stated.
Due to this discomfort, many people in these groups would like to work in less public-facing roles but lack the qualifications for those positions–having limited technical skills and no relevant experience. The combination of living through a pandemic and struggling to find stable income can lead to downward spirals in mental health.
“The lack of daily structure and consistent interaction with other people that come with being unemployed can lead anyone, regardless of their life situation, to feeling isolated and depressed,” explained Fritzsche.
She notes, for people from marginalized populations, who may already deal with confidence issues and/or mental health issues, being unemployed can feel extremely painful. Their desire to be part of the working community and not receiving the opportunity to do so is very challenging to deal with daily and detrimental to their mental well-being.
Fritzsche, who works in JEVS’s Career Strategies program that assists individuals with unemployment and job searching, has focused her career counseling role on filling gaps in résumés with life experiences, such as volunteering, community involvement, and care giving roles, to help her clients feel less anxious when applying for jobs. She also encourages people to find a career counselor that will support and motivate them through the process, which in turns boosts confidence and motivation.