WASHINGTON -- When Robert Annis got laid off in 2011, executives at his company said the economic recovery "is not happening as quickly or favorably as we had hoped."
Annis was part of a mass layoff of 700 journalists by Gannett, which had employed him as a reporter at the Indianapolis Star for nine years. Eventually, Annis began to focus less on getting another full-time job and more on finding freelance work. He's now writing for magazines about outdoor travel and is basically back on his feet -- and so is the economic recovery. The Labor Department announced Friday that the national jobless rate had ticked down to 5.5 percent as the economy added 295,000 jobs in February, the latest in a long series of positive jobs reports.
Initially shocked by his layoff, Annis kept doing what he knew how to do, reporting via Twitter on his own search for work, updating his followers about his job interviews, seeking advice and offering insight about joblessness.
"It took a while to kind of transition the mindset," Annis, now 41, told The Huffington Post. "To go from having a full-time job and benefits and 40 hours a week at a job -- and I really loved that job. I devoted quite a bit of my life to that job, so it took a while for me to come over to the mindset [of a freelancer]."
For Annis, freelancing is more rewarding in some ways, but less so in others. "What I'm doing now, it doesn’t pay as much but there's a lot less stress," he said.
He was one of 4.3 million workers estimated to have been displaced from long-held jobs between 2011 and 2013, according to a recent Labor Department report. Of those, 61 percent were re-employed as of January 2014.
Annis isn't sure whether his personal trajectory tracks with the changing economic circumstances of the last few years. His layoff might better reflect the broader story of widening incoming inequality. Gannett executives blamed the sluggish recovery for the mass layoff in 2011 -- but as a reporter for the Columbia Journalism Review observed at the time, if those executives had been willing to reduce their own multimillion-dollar compensation packages, they could have saved hundreds of jobs.
"I have nothing but disdain for the people that are in charge of Gannett," Annis said.
Though the economy has improved, layoffs have continued at the media company.
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