Prognosis for GM Closing Based on My Parent’s Unemployment

By Alyssa Weston

In late August 2016, just days before my first semester at Youngstown State University, my father told me he lost his job.

We promptly put my first semester’s tuition on a credit card and have gone through grants, loans and headaches ever since. At 18, I was finding that college was already so difficult to figure out.

As balancing college became stressful, home life had its set of unforeseen challenges too.

“I stayed at grandma’s house last night,” my sister said. “I wanted to take a hot shower.” I felt a lump in my throat. “It’s not fair.”

In hindsight, I used to think of how unemployment affected the unemployed and not necessarily how it affected their families.

A 2010 study commissioned by the Brookings Institute found that approximately one in nine American children, or 8.1 million, has at least parent that is unemployed.

According to a preliminary study titled, “The Long-Term Effects of Parental Unemployment,” by Bernhard Schmidpeter for the Institute for Social and Economic Research University of Essex, “early parental unemployment increases children’s time spent in unemployment and that this effect is largely concentrated at unemployment prone individuals.”

Schmidpeter found that parental unemployment can decrease the well-being and school performance of children and eventually impact their careers too.

For some unemployed, finding similar work isn’t always possible especially with downsizing and closing of large corporations.

General Motors’ closing this March will have an impact on the families of over 1,500 people in the Mahoning Valley, especially the folks whose children are about to start college, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, but now with a whole new set of challenges.

Nicole Kent-Strollo, director of student outreach and support, said after much discussion, the YSU Division of Student Experience decided to release a statement in response to the announcement of the Lordstown GM plant closing.

Kent-Strollo said the statement was to let those who may be impacted by the plant’s closing know that the Division of Student Experience was thinking about them.

Luckily, for students at YSU there are resources to help lessen the blow of personal or family unemployment.

According to Kent-Strollo, students can receive help filing their taxes through the Williamson College of Business Administration and use resources from the food pantry and Career Closet, as well as go to financial aid and have an evaluation done.

In addition, students who don’t have health insurance can still receive treatment from the on-campus health clinic.

“I think there’s going to be a trickle-down effect [from GM plant closing],” she said. “It absolutely affects our students just like so many other things do so these [on-campus resources] are needed.”