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It's as if the 99ers are wrapped in Harry Potter's cloak of invisibility. Four million people whose lives are hanging by a thread - lost homes, ruined marriages, no health care coverage, savings that have disappeared - are mostly ignored in the public conversation. The only voices who consistently raise their situation are in the Occupy movement. So it's a rare ray of light that 60 Minutes takes a look at a program bent on helping the long-term unemployed prepared get real jobs again:
It was bad enough for Frank O'Neill to be unemployed for over three years, but something he read while seeking a job stabbed him in the heart. "I've seen it in print...I've actually seen, "If you are unemployed, you need not apply."
O'Neill is part of the long-term unemployed, a new minority group being legally discriminated against by want ad copy such as "Must Be Currently Employed." Joe Carbone is president of The Workplace, which has replaced what used to be the state unemployment office for southwest Connecticut. He explains why employers would do this. "There's a sense that if a person has been out of work for a year or longer, they might be lazy...would prefer to be home...lost too much already to be useful to me," he tells Pelley. "It's unfair and it's wrong."
That's why Carbone started Platform to Employment, a boot camp for the long-term jobless. The program teaches job applicants how to look for a job and to respond to inquiries about gaps in their resumes, but even more importantly, it re-instills the dignity and confidence long-term joblessness can rob from people. Another key aspect of Carbone's program is the paid internships that lead to permanent jobs. There are about a hundred people in the program, mostly middle-aged and college educated, mostly seeking similar jobs to the ones they lost. After five months, 53 of them got jobs; O'Neill was one of them.
He was attracted to the program because of its focus on finding the right job for him. "I was so prideful and so stubborn that I would not apply for part-time positions...at the grocery store...I wasn't going to flip burgers. I have a college education," O'Neil says. "I've been successful at work. I've been working for 30 years...so when this opportunity for Platform to Employment came along, I joined it and it changed my mindset," he tells Pelley.
Pelley speaks to several others who are among the lucky few who are reclaiming their own American dreams through Carbone's program in Stamford, Conn. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates there are four million people who have been out of work for 52 weeks or more and two million out for 99 weeks or more. Carbone calls this "carnage."
"I can't think of a better word in this case...We ought to be angry, we ought to be giving every moment of our time figuring out how we are going to restore for them the American Dream."