Unemployment in my home county was 11.7% in May, as reported in the Dunn Daily Record. Everyday it seems that a new story rips through all the other headlines, and it is always another plant closing, a lay off, a reduction in force, a cutting back, whatever. The point is, there are an amazingly alarming amount of people out of work. So it would lead one to believe that there are no jobs to be found.
That is sure enough a common refrain “I’ve been out of work for 6 months” “I have not worked in 2 years” Ad naseum – You hear this all the time, all over the place. But take a second to check out the jobs websites and the classified ads – there are lots of jobs out there – and therein lies the small part of the bigger problem I want to address.
Lets work our way up – shall we. There are lots of unskilled jobs, but no one wants them. Fast food, cleaning motels, washing cars, working for a local farmer. These are the jobs people do not take because “I can’t make a living working for minimum wage” – But then there are the people who will work these jobs, and damned if people don’t complain about them stealing jobs from Americans. Until I see a line of Americans trying to get a job slaughtering chickens in a plant or asking for the privilege to changes wine and spunk stained sheets at a Best Western, this is not an argument I even acknowledge any longer. Also – don’t bitch to me about the unemployment in America when Americans are willing to be unemployed, draw benefits, and pass over work.
If you need money – you need work – not a job. A job can be anything. I want work. I want to do something. I do not want to hear you complain how hard you have it because the only job you can get is doing this or that or whatever. Hey – you just said it – you COULD get those jobs – you choose not too. Keep you crying to yourself. It distracts those of us who are willing to work, and we need to concentrate because we have work to do. See how that works?
Then there are jobs – LOTS and LOTS of jobs – which everyone wants – IF they can meet the requirements. And damn there are a lot of people who can meet them. It is a buyer’s paradise right now for the prospective employer. You can post an opening internally, not even advertise, and simple word of mouth of the existing employee base will almost guarantee you a dozen applicants in a very very short time. This glut of applicants also helps to depress wages, as you can almost have a bidder’s war for the position among those interested.
And then the really sweet jobs – that hardly anyone is qualified for. Man these babies pay sweet, include relocation benefits and generally are filled through professional staffing groups.
None of this is new – it is simply magnified at the current moment.
Now here is the Unspoken Unemployment Problem: Because unemployment is so high, and since people are fighting like hell to get a job, and because employers have a very stacked deck, the average working person cannot change jobs or careers as easily now as in the past. It is almost impossible to have a job and to find a better or more desirable one. Of course there are exceptions: if not under a contract the medical field seems to play to the benefit of the employee in looking for a job. But take a guy who works for a large company in middle management and has survived the cutbacks and reductions, with a decent salary and benefits package. Now, you are reminded often to “just be glad we all have a job” – and he is. He had to do his own share of downsizing last year. But if he were to become dissatisfied, with the contraction of the job market, the increased competition for what is available, and the very real fear that accompanies looking for a job without jeopardizing the one you have- all make for a damn near impossible situation. You can find plenty of entry level jobs, or worse, jobs that are equal – with entry level pay. Then compound in that instead of having 4 – 5 % unemployment you have twice that willing to work for 80% less, then competition is fatal.
So what I am trying to get out here ( and probably making a mess of it as usual) is that all us who re working really need all those who are not working to get a job – so we can go find a better one ourselves.