Utah man creates ‘Layoff Lounge' to help unemployed

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SUGAR HOUSE -- Employment figures out Wednesday show one of every 20 Salt Lake residents are out of work. The Department of Labor's Metropolitan Area report for April puts Salt Lake's non-seasonally adjusted unemployment rate right at 5 percent.

Some of those out-of-work Utahns met Wednesday for a session of The Layoff Lounge; the tongue-in-cheek name is in invitation to anyone who has been laid off or is looking for a job. Geoff Doiron, recently of Ballet West, felt the need to start the group as a Tough Times Survival strategy.

"Because I was laid off a month ago today, and I needed to get out of the house, and I needed to feel productive. And I know how bad the economy is right now," Doiron said.

He got out the word on Craigslist, inviting all comers to commiserate, to network, to share strategies, to address health and wellness and dollar-stretching and to learn to exploit the new technologies of social-networking on the Web.

"I think, for all of us, it's expanding our knowledge of different things we can do to find work," Dorion said.

This second meeting of the group drew people with backgrounds in graphic arts, social work, food service, law, marketing and advertising. They found they had much to share.

"It can be fairly lonely if you're by yourself in your house trying to figure out, ‘What am I going to do with my life?'" Dorion said.

The Layoff Lounge is typical of homegrown support and networking groups that are forming in response to the tough economy. It reconvenes next Wednesday at 2 p.m. at the Sprague Library in Sugar House.

E-mail: blindsay@ksl.com

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