The Employed: Aja Halvorson

You may recall the story of Aja Halvorson from last year’s News Cut mini-series on the stories of people who’ve become unemployed in the economic “downturn.”

“Even if you don’t know me, you know me,” Aja Halvorson says. “I really do rub off on people.” She’s right. She’s the poster child of many in her generation. She’s looking to make a difference, she’s gone back to school, but she’s also struggling through the flotsam of foreclosure, unemployment, and bankruptcy.

Here’s an update, based on an e-mail she sent today:

You did an unemployment piece on me earlier this year and asked me to follow up with you when I got a job. Well, I’m delinquent in notifying you, but I was hired by the U of MN this past December. It’s only a 25-hour-a-week position, but I love it and it feels great to be working again. This summer my hours will go up to 30 per week since there appears to be enough money in our budget for next year (however I am only 1/3 of the workforce for my program. We’re associated with the College of Continuing Education).

I’m still in school and doing very well. I’m working towards my teaching license. The new developments regarding financial aid are making me both excited and nervous to see what my educational future has in store. I think it’s a good move to eliminate private subsidized loans, but at the same time I’m wondering if there will still be the same availability for aid. But that’s a whole other matter which I’m sure you’re already hard at work on.

All in all, things are headed in the right direction. Most of my unemployed friends have also found part-time or temporary work, just a few of them continue to struggle with employment issues.

On a day-to-day basis, it’s hard to know how we’re doing economy-wise. The Commerce Department released revised economic data today, for instance, that shows the economy is growing at only half the rate it did at the end of 2009, and nowhere near enough to bring the unemployment rate down.

  • John P

    The good news for Aja is she and her friends are finding jobs. The bad news is she says they are part time or temporary.

    That might work out okay for a young person like here, but for older guys like me, that usually means no health insurance. I can hope there is help buried somewhere in the new health care bill, but since so many of it’s provisions are delayed for so long, I fear relief will probably not come before Republicans take over and repeal the whole thing.

    Somehow, those communistic freedon hating death panels in Canada manage to cover everyone at lower cost and get better health outcomes. Of course that’s “not invented here”, so we can’t possibly learn anything from them.

  • Steve

    This is not really relevant but I’m curious: did her parents name her after the Steely Dan album? I haven’t seen that name anywhere else and it’s actually pretty cool.

  • Aja

    Actually, my parents didn’t name me after the Steele Dan album… it means goat and I happen to be a Capricorn (astrological sign of the goat). It’s pronounced the same though. 😉

    John P. – I don’t have health insurance nor have I had it since I was laid off. As a woman that’s bad news, regardless of my age. I do agree with you about the flexibility of youth and our ability to accept less than ideal work/benefit packages, but even that will have lasting affects.

    I hope you can benefit from the changes that are taking place and that work comes your way soon! Good Luck!

  • Lily


    I am glad to hear that you are employed and are in school. I went through the recession of the early 80’s and did what you are doing with work and school. It does work out– eventually

    Take care!