How Can I Help an Unemployed Relative?

Updated on July 06, 2010
B.H. asks from Detroit, MI
12 answers

My uncle has been "laidoff" from his job probably almost 2 years now. He has collected unemployment for about 18 months due to the fact that the benefits were extened a few times. Now, he has run out of unemployment benefits and he told me he had no idea what he was going to do.
I feel really bad and I see how depressed he is. It bothers me to see him so discouraged. He has worked most of his life as a plumber/contruction. Before losing his job he was promoted to a management position where he was in charge of sending work crews to different locations to do plumbing jobs for the public schools.
I want to help but don't know what I can do? I need plumbing work and much more done around my house but I know what I have to pay him is not going to help.

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So What Happened?

I don't thinik that he has been looking very hard. I've helped him do a resume in the past and he has not gotten many responses. I think the issue is that he was almost set to retire if he could have just gotten in a few more years with his co. this is the sad part. Now that he has gotten older (55) I think that he feels his options are not very few. He is healty but I don't think he able to do the physical part of the job all day. It's just so hard to see a person lose a job and see them go down hill.

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answers from Detroit on

I have a 40yr old uncle and his gf living in my basement because he ran out of unemployment and his gf only makes $8...

So, not really much advice, but lots of hugs and understanding.

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answers from Cleveland on

I lost my job in July 09 when my employer of 12 years closed their doors... I have been on a few interviews in the last year, but when I average out the interviews compaired to the positions I've applied to - I have applied to 50 places to each call back/interview - which have not panned out as a job. The market is really hard - eventhough everyone want people to think it is getting better. I personnally don't think it is & with the unemployment ending - I feel it is only going to get worse.

Of the 200 co-workers that lost their jobs at the sametime I did I only know about 30 of them that have found something else. Mind you it's been a year!

My real dad has been out of work for almost 3 years, and has just resently got a 6 mo temp job after loosing everything. He had to file bankrutcy & is waiting to hear when he has to be out of his condo, cause her lost it when he filed.

My sisters hubby has been out of work for over 2 years & he is a union worker. He applies for jobs every week & goes to the union halls atleast 2 times a week - he has gotten jobs that last a day here & there and got one a few months ago that was 3 weeks work. They have 5 kids they are trying to care for. They also had to file bankrutcy, but was able to keep their home because of a deal the bank was willing to offer. Atleast for now - with unemployment benifits ending for everyone, they may loose it now - but I'm hoping they don't.

My step-dad lost his job the sametime I did... we worked for the same company. He had worked for them for over 25 years... and has no idea how to start over. Him & my mom are trying to save up enough to file bankrutcy, but have not be able to yet. And with his benifits ending soon - I fear they will not be able to. My brother has moved back home - since his hours have been cut so much that he is unable to live on his own & the 3 of them are trying to keep the house going the best they can w/ what little they have coming in. Since my mom has been sick for a few years and with in the last 6 months deemed disabled.

I know a lot of people feel that if you can't find something - you aren't looking or not looking hard... I do searches almost everyday to see if I can find new posts for jobs, plus I am registared with 5 different temp agencies in my area. Eventhough I have 2 associates degrees - I'm haven't been able to find anything. Currently, I'm looking at going back to school in Aug. for a year - so that I can get state certified in a new field, since I spent the last 12 years in manufacturing one way or another... and there are very few jobs in that industry around me.

Your uncle my qualify for other state assistance... but he is going to have to be willing to go to the local "welfare" office and apply for help. Even if they offer him food stamps or medical assistance - it is a big help when you have nothing coming in. Some states also offer cash assistance as well or training needed to update skills... but he will have to apply for all it. And yes, eventhough he is in his 50's he can get some kind of help and possible training.

As to what you can do to help him - pay him what you can afford to for work around your house, if he will do it. Also, see if anyone you know needs even small jobs done. When you have nothing coming in $10-15 can make a big difference sometimes. Personnaly, I have a few bills that have min payments of $12 -15... so eventhough you might think it's a small amount of money - sometimes us unemployed people think we've hit a gold mine and one more bill can be paid for the month.

Something else we have been doing is saving all our metal cans (aluminum & steel) and taking them to a local scrap yard. You don't get much for them, but like I said when you have very little coming in - even a small amount can be so helpful! If he is willing to take the stuff to the scrap yard, maybe you can bag up your cans (aluminum in one & steel in another) for him & that is a way you can help him to make a little extra as well.

I wish you luck in trying to find ways to help him... you have a good heart for trying. I wish him luck with everything going on. And so you know I truely feel for all that is unemployed - there are so many of us still out here.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Is he unable to work, unable to find work, or not actively looking for work? Does he still want to be a plumber, or does he want to try a different kind of work. It seems to me that plumbing is something that can be done independently, so he could start his own plumbing business and not have to work for anyone else, especially if he already has management experience. If he's interested in doing a different kind of work, but doesn't know where to start, I'd recommend reading "What Color is your Parachute?" which is an excellent book for people who are looking for a new job or a new career.

I hope this helps!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Pittsburgh on

You could suggest he places an ad on Craig's List to seek plumbing work on his own. He could look for jobs at Home Depot, Lowes, etc. in the plumbing/fixture departments. Bottom line, though, is HE has to do this. He needs to actively look for a job. You can help with resume and help teach him to email it, etc. His local unemployment office probably has a job search program he can use.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

I have not experienced unemployment so I cannot speak as an expert. I do know that "purposeful activity" helps with depression - whether it be volunteer or for pay. So in the interim while looking for work, I have been encouraging my own friends/family to sign up to volunteer - animal shelter, nursing home, church, community center etc. There are a zillion places looking for help - even if its weeding the flower beds at the church - it needs to be done and it gives a person a sense of well being to be doing "something". I don't know what his interests are but that might be a starting point. Plus, being "out there" affords a person the opportunity to meet someone who might just be the connection to employment for them. If the unemployed remain in their homes understandably feeling bad about their situation, they may never meet that job that may be "just around the corner". With your uncles talents as a plumber, if he was willing to volunteer, our church has homes that often require work - single moms, inner city etc and your uncle could be a real asset to them; again this would be volunteer work, but it would be something
In addition, I do see signs around the community of people hiring - not for plumbers unfortunately. Vince n Joes Market at Van Dyke and 25 Mile is hiring in three different departments, Babies R Us is hiring. Yes, all part time, but its a start. Sometimes a person can put a couple part time jobs together to get some income coming in and again, being out in a job, any job, gives the unemployed person a chance to talk with others and network and maybe find a better job along the way.
Just my thoughts.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Redding on

The fact is, the unemployment situation is horrible right now.
I was just talking with a friend about this the other day.
Those of us with jobs are shaking in our shoes afraid to lose them and those of us who are looking are becoming discouraged.
She was out of work for a year and a half and only got 3 responses to all the resumes she had submitted. She has a managerial background and couldn't get a job to save herself. She finally did, but employers right now don't even acknowledge you or your application/resume. They may take a look at how much money you used to make and toss you right in the trash. The other thing we noticed, at least in our area, is that some employers want a college degree of some kind to be an office manager and get paid $10-$12 per hour with zero benefits in many cases. That's better than nothing, to be sure, but if you've been humming along and having a pretty nice life and that all falls apart like a house of cards, it's devastating. And, in my line of work, I happen to know that a lot of employers don't want to hire older people, 50+, because if they do offer insurance benefits, the rates are extremely high and the chances of having health problems are higher. It's not out and out discrimination and there's no way to prove it anyway when you've got 60 people applying for the same job. Only one person can get it.
I'm just saying, don't take what may be depression setting in for laziness.
There are upsides to having your own business, but there are downsides as well. He can call or get online to find out everything he'll need. A business license, perhaps liability insurance, he'll be responsible for paying his own quarterly taxes, etc. At least it's something to research while he's looking.
The main thing you can do is tell him not to give up. And remember, just because he isn't getting many responses, it doesn't mean he isn't trying.
Perhaps suggest that he look in the phone book under property managers. They may need someone who can work on rentals, etc.
The other thing I was thinking was suggesting that he find out what it would take to be a building inspector or get certified to work for a city public works department. He has lots of fabulous experience and a great background. He just needs to think outside of the box a bit.

I hope things work out for him soon. A lot of people are really hurting for work right now.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Detroit on

That's a tough situation. My BIL is also unemployed and I wanted so badly to "help him" too. So we "hired him" to watch our kids two days a week while we worked (we were actually looking for PT in-home daycare at the time, so it worked at the time). While it was convenient to have Uncle over at our house to play, we didn't establish clear expectations and good enough boundaries. He spent most of his time on his computer (playing games, NOT working on job apps or resumes or searches) or playing our Wii (sometimes with our kids, but mostly not!) It was frustrating to my husband and I, and toward the end it was maddening, and it had some impact on our relationship.
My point is: be careful. Essentially, your uncle's situation is his own - and not your responsibility to "fix". If you do hire him, think about all the little details that might need to be addressed (hours, pay, materials, workspace, etc) and make everything very clear.
You could also have him over to dinner once a week to keep him in touch with the family & his spirits up a bit. We also did this with BIL and it was good for all of us!
Good luck to your family ;)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Kalamazoo on

I'd go ahead and offer him the work. Something is better then nothing right? He needs to get back into the work field, and it may mean relocating or taking a job that earns less then he used to earn. It is definitely depressing, embarrassing, scary and tiresome to get back into the job hunt, but will ultimately be the best thing he can do right now. You know how the saying goes, its easier to find a job when you have a job. :)



answers from Boise on

I suggest he walks into fast food places between 8-10 am and speaks directly to a manager. These places hire all the time.

Unfortunately, his predicament will happen to even more people over the next two years. The dollar is going to be devalued. Obama already gave a hint of that when he said that he was going to double the monetary exports.
The only way that can happen is if they debauch the currency. Inflation will occur in the next few years, and job loss will continue.
Have him start thinking about living with a relative to reduce his overhead.



answers from Grand Rapids on

My husband was laid off from his plumber job of 14 years about 18 months ago. He took the class to become a master plumber and a contractor. Now he has his own plumbing business. We put a note up at our church and he has gotten a lot of work from our church family. He also used the many contacts he had made over the years to get plumbing and building jobs. He also recently joined a referral group. He has been quite busy this summer. We are blessed. Even a small business gives you something to do. My husband doesn't like to sit still.


answers from Dallas on

I understand that you want to help, but your uncle also has to want to help himself, so please don't take on too much of his worries.

I would pick a night that works and have your Uncle over for dinner once a week. Tell him you don't see him enough and would like him to do this for YOU. Always cook enough to send home leftovers to cover a second night. This way you can be assured he has two good meals a week, and save him some money on groceries. This he will be able to accept without feeling like a charity case.


answers from Detroit on

Hello. Since your uncle has worked in the plumber/construction filed for most of his life, has he ever considered starting his own small business. Make up some flyers. Pass them out in the neighborhoods, and get his own business up and running by doing small jobs for people. I live in MI as well and it is getting really tough here for people. In order for a lot of us to really make it, we have to make sure we have a trade to fall back on. I'm sure if your uncle uses the skills that he already has, this will be a great benefit to him.

Blessings to you and your family.


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