I returned to Nevada in July after living out of the state for 10 years. Most recently, I served as editor of the Artesia Daily Press in Artesia, N.M., and prior to that I worked in editorial capacities in Arizona, Wyoming and northeastern Nevada.
Being home in Nevada for the past few months has been an interesting experience. This is not the Nevada I left behind 10 years ago when the economy was in better shape.
I went to high school in Wells and traveled frequently to Sparks, and various other locations in the state, to participate in rodeos. My dad, my team roping partner, Aaron, and I usually stayed in what I believe used to be a Best Western (now Holiday Inn) just south of I-80 off McCarran Boulevard, and we would often eat breakfast at the Silver Club before heading over to Gandolfo Rodeo Arena for the day.
Aaron and I enjoyed taking my dad’s truck at the conclusion of the rodeo and exploring Reno and Sparks to see what kind of shenanigans we could get into.
While I never actually lived in Reno or Sparks until this year, I spent a considerable amount of time in the area. Even after I moved out of the state, I often traveled to Nevada to visit my brother, Wade, who has been in either Reno or Las Vegas since 2002.
Until this year, I hadn’t been to Reno since 2005. As I drove into the city in July, I was saddened to immediately see evidence of the depressed economy. Many businesses and casinos that remained frozen in my mind as shiny, light-laden establishments are now closed, and I do not recall seeing such a large number of homeless people on the street corners in the Nevada of my youth.
My brother tried to warn me about the economy in Reno before I moved, but I could not fathom the record unemployment and economic sadness I was about to encounter.
I lived in the middle of an oil field in New Mexico, in a place that was not hit so hard by the recession. Although business had slowed down for everyone there, people were still working and spending money. We heard the economy in the rest of the country was bad, but it was hard to actually believe until I saw it for myself.
When I arrived in Reno, I thought I was prepared for the rough road ahead, but I really wasn’t.
I’m not the type to live on unemployment. In fact, I didn’t even try to get it. I was lucky enough to borrow a little bit of money from my family to get by until I found a job (although I realize many people do not have that luxury and have families to feed).
It took months for me to find work. I worked almost all day, every day in my job-searching endeavors, and it was incredibly frustrating.
I recall one day in August sitting on my brother’s back porch crying (something I normally would not be caught dead doing), and beginning to feel like there was something wrong with me because I could not find a job. I went to interview after interview, only to be turned down, which I could not understand since I went to college and have 12 years of experience as an editor.
Wade came home from work that day, sat outside with me and said, “You know, Jessica, if I had to try to look for a job right now, it would be very difficult.”
That made me feel a little better, since Wade is an educated and intelligent person (or at least I like to think so, but maybe I am a little biased).
“It isn’t you,” he said. “It’s just the way the economy is right now. Just keep trying, and things will get better.”
That’s what I want to share with Sparks Tribune readers. On a daily basis, I encounter a lot of people around town who are feeling down. A lot of people are out of work and some are working two or three low-paying jobs to make ends meet.
The only way our economy is going to improve is for people to go back to work, but it is going to take effort from all of us. Perhaps it means taking a job (or two) that is not quite what you want.
The people who are working and struggling cannot continue to support those who aren’t — and I am not referring to those who are out of work because of circumstances out of their control, but are still trying to gain employment. I’m referring to the able-bodied, but entitled and lazy 20-somethings out on the street begging.
If you are out of a job and frustrated, just hang in there. This economy will eventually get better. After all, it can’t get a whole lot worse.
Jessica Carner is a reporter for the Sparks Tribune. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.