D’IBERVILLE, Miss. (WLOX) - While unemployment numbers in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic are slowly recovering, many are still out of work.
For some, finding appropriate employment or any work at all has been difficult and unfortunately, 37-year-old Cassandra Foreman has experienced this firsthand.
“It gets extremely frustrating and you’re ready to beat your head against the wall by the end of the day,” Foreman said.
Foreman was laid off in April when the heavy equipment rental and sales company she worked for closed all their satellite offices. She was one of eight local workers who unexpectedly found themselves unemployed and since then life has been a bad dream.
“It’s sitting on the computer, going through jobs, texting about replies from jobs, applying for more jobs,” Foreman said.
By her count, Foreman has applied for 85 jobs in the last six months. She said most employers don’t reply at all, while others just send a rejection letter.
Foreman has varied office skills having worked in a medical office, hotel, and serving three-and-a-half years in the Air Force. She has applied twice to fast-food restaurants since being laid off but was told she was overqualified.
“I’m overqualified to make French fries,” said Foreman. “I’ve never wanted to work in the fast-food industry, but if it absolutely comes down to it, I’ll scrub toilets. You just got to make sure the babies have what they need, make sure we have food on the table. Do what you’ve got to do.”
The mother of two has somehow maintained a good attitude through the experience, but her patience with the job market is wearing thin.
“As we get further into this and our unemployment benefits come closer to an end, we’re getting extremely desperate and willing to try anything at this point,” Foreman said.
Foreman said she received the weekly $600 supplemental payments from the CARES Act through July, and also the weekly $300 payments in August. Because her husband was still working, they were able to save much of that money. However, he lost his job last month and now they’re running out of money.
“This might be our last month of actually being able to sustain," Foreman said. "I could probably get through half of October. After that it gets pretty scary.”
She said she has noticed that wages in the job market are starting to drop, which is a cause for concern.
“What is the economy going to be when I do finally get a job?" Foreman said. "What am I going to have to reduce myself to to be able to obtain it?”
The Mississippi unemployment rate has dropped from a high of 16.3% in April to 7.9% in August. That’s still two percentage points higher than it was in March, which was before the pandemic shut down the economy. Now, the national unemployment rate is currently at 8.4%, down from a high of 14.7% in April.
Foreman said she had to rely on food giveaways and food stamps to help make ends meet for her family of four, but she has also helped at her church with those food giveaways.
Cornerstone Baptist Church in Pass Christian is one of many locations that have distributed food through the USDA’s Farm to Families program, and Foreman said helping others has helped give her a boost.
“I know that I’m not at the rock bottom," Foreman said. "There are people who have it worse than me, and so to be able to provide them something in forms of comfort, prayer, support. Just a simple smile for some of these people has been an absolute blessing to me and it makes me feel two-hundred times better by the end of the day.”
Despite all the bad news, Foreman is hopeful her fortunes will change for the better.
“I’ve got a little bit more hope now,” Foreman said. “I’ve been talking to several retailers, Walmart, Target, and they are getting ready to gear up for their seasonal hiring, so I’m hoping something will come through for that too. I mean even if it’s just a temporary position, at least it’s something.”