The Daunting Workplace: Barriers to Unemployment Among the Poor
Many of our nation's poor remain in abject poverty because they see no way out of a viscous cycle that has been their only known way of life for generations. In many ways the poor tend to isolate themselves from the rest of society out of fear of the unknown. There is a strange comfort in things familiar, even if those things are bad. Unemployment remains high among the poor because of social stereotypes and the many ill psychological effects that society imposes on individuals trying to break the cycle of poverty.
Juveniles growing up in impoverished surroundings with a lack of familial support often take to the streets in search of love, support and acceptance. Unfortunately, many of these young people that crave acceptance are welcomed into the arms of gangs and other criminals. Children, teens, and young adults who would normally look to parents as role models begin to model themselves after Gang leaders. Before long, these indigent youths become criminals themselves. Many end up with criminal arrest records which further limits their ability to secure gainful employment.
Minority children in high-poverty areas are more likely to be exposed to alcohol, tobacco and drug distribution; they are also more likely to use drugs and exhibit antisocial behaviors.
Numerous employers envision the poor as having little education, poor health, laziness, complacency, criminal behavior and inferior work ethics. Many of the poor grow up in dysfunctional homes with a lack of access to resources and support and their background becomes a breeding ground for the very things many employers envision about the poor. Social conditioning and lack of support for the impoverished has created a paradoxical situation in which the underprivileged begin to see themselves as they believe employers see them. Social stigmas about the poor and feelings of low self-esteem make the poor reluctant to seek employment and employers reluctant to hire the them. Anecdotal research consistently suggests that low self-esteem is a major risk factor for many of the problems that plague impoverished communities. People who suffer from low self-esteem are often fearful of upsetting others, lack the skills and ability to effectively communicate their true feelings, and face great fear of rejection. Individuals who suffer with low self-esteem tend to become passive until their anger builds at which point they can become aggressive-defensive, sarcastic, curt, or rude, even violent such as is the case with domestic, gang, and teen violence. These traits are not exactly considered ideal in the workplace and employers don't have the time nor the inclination to teach basic communication and problem solving skills to their employees. Employees lacking self-esteem are often tardy, have high rates of absenteeism and may resort to drugs as a means of coping with feelings of inadequacy. Employers look for dependable employees who...