THE BLOG
04/09/2013 12:09 pm ET Updated Jun 09, 2013

Money Tips for the Working Poor: Exploring All Options in Unemployment (Part 1 of 3)

"General Motors Co. next month will lay off 104 workers at its Flint Engine Plant as the company sends engine work for the Buick Encore to Korea." Detroit News, March 7th 2013

This may just seem like a headline in a newspaper to you, but imagine if you were one of those 104 people living in Flint, Michigan who happened to be reading the Detroit News that morning and knew your job was about to be outsourced? What thoughts would run through your head?

"How will we be able to afford this mortgage?"

"Are we going to have to move my wife and kids into my parents' home?"

"Is this layoff permanent or temporary?"

"My skills aren't of use any place else other than here in Flint...what the hell am I supposed to do... move?!"

This is a very real scenario for not just those living in Flint, Michigan, but in cities all across America people have had to face this new reality...a reality of a shrinking labor force. As in all recessions, low skilled manufacturing jobs begin to shrink in demand faster than any others as they are outsourced to other countries and/or diminished by technological advancement. I understand the patriotic sentiment to hire domestic workers, but when that patriotism comes at a 300 percent premium to labor which can be purchased overseas, the reality is many employers will choose to not be patriotic.

So as the demand for low-skilled manufacturing jobs decreases, and the demand for high-skilled jobs increases, what should an employee such as one of the 104 laid off in the Flint, Michigan plan to do? These workers who only possess the skills to work on an assembly line or perhaps have a skilled trade that is specific to manufacturing engines, just like workers laid off across the country, have only three choices they can pursue and those choices are the following:

1. Move - Find another area where their skills are in demand.
2. Pursue Education - Get additional education to acquire more skills that match those skills locally that are in demand.
3. Become an Entrepreneur - Start your own business to use the skills you have acquired to service the needs of your community.

Solution #1 -- Relocate to another city

For those who are young without roots in the community this can be easy; however, this solution can be a challenging one especially for those with a family and/or strong ties to the local community. Kids in school, a home that has been in the family for generations, or something as simple as a family church would all have to be sacrificed to relocate. It is never easy to find a job where you don't live so here are some ideas that hopefully will make it easier to find employment in another area:

1. Seek Only Where Your Skills Are in Demand - Yes this sounds obvious, but many choose to relocate based on the area without regard to the demand for their skillset. Yes, it may be great to live in sunny San Diego, but if they don't have manufacturing plants or assembly lines for engines then that is not the place for you. Be sure there is a strong demand and opportunity for the skill sets you possess before you go through the hassle of relocating.

2. Use Local Job Search Databases - Searching for a job has gotten easier through the internet, but that also applies for the millions of people who are also seeking jobs on the same sites as you; your competition increases significantly. Narrowing the search from a national site to a local site can increase your odds of finding a position in a specific location.

3. Maximize Your Network - If you have graduated from college then perhaps your college has a career network of alumni. Are you a member of a fraternity/sorority or other professional organization with local chapters? Here is where social media can also play a role as you now have access to many people across the country literally at your fingertips. Have you talked to your family and close friends about your job search needs? These individuals, because they know you, are more likely to give you the extra helping hand in your job search. Reach out to these individuals for more than just a job search. Ask your network for guidance on transportation, entertainment, housing, lifestyle, and all that is necessary to know about your potentially new community.

4. Use the Local Network - Close friends and family can also be of assistance in reducing hotel costs while visiting your new potential city for interviews and job searches. Ask one within your close network to use their local address on your cover letter and resume. Seeing an address that is hundreds of miles away can dissuade a future employer from giving you a second look. Not only are employers looking to save money on relocation costs, but it is more convenient to schedule an interview for people who are located nearby. Perhaps it would be prudent to plan on an extended stay and even taking a part-time job so you can be accessible to a new potential employer.

5. Do Your Homework - Put together a budget to get an estimate of the amount of money it will take to sustain your lifestyle. Then use a salary calculator which will give you the average pay for a specific position in a given location. Finally use a cost of living calculator to see how far your salary will go in a new city compared with the cost of living between the two cities. You can find these calculators by doing a simple search on Google.

6. Research Benefits - If you are moving to a new city and your spouse has yet to find employment, there may be benefits he/she may be eligible to get. Check with the unemployment offices in your current state and new potential state to determine eligibility requirements.

7. Join the Underemployed - If you have lost your job and feel that a new start in a new city would be prudent given your skill set, it could be prudent to take a position that is not your ideal position but would at least be enough to cover your living expenses while you search for your ideal position.