People, people everywhere and not a job to find…


unemployedWe have serious problems troubling the world.  Violence in the streets and violence in the homes.  Wars between foreign countries and wars in foreign countries.  Divisions over culture and divisions over politics.  Worldwide ecology that is rotting and worldwide economies that are rotten.

In all of that, is the trial of a person searching for a job all that important?

Since you can answer that, let’s examine the real issue of unemployment.  During this extended recession/downturn/slowdown by any other name, companies jettisoned jobs by the boatload.  Oops, sorry, that’s the sanitized version.  They jettisoned people.  Now, this is generally regarded as correct and rational in a free market system.  The goal is profits and usually the largest expense that is most easily reduced to keep profits up is people.  Getting rid of those salaries and health care costs is critical.  We may not like it when we’re the one “booted”, but it’s the system we live in.

Ok, so the economic conditions aren’t much better, but we hear the cries…”Job creation”.  That’s a great theme.  Skipping a company’s motivation for creating more jobs, the more relevant question is “create jobs for whom?”

For example, my niece is in her last year at college.  She works part-time to help fund her expenses.  She has worked for 3 years at one job.  Her search for a new job that would better fit with her school hours and location has proven difficult.  Job openings, but no hirings.  Too little experience?  Perhaps…but then what would explain this…

I met a former co-worker for lunch a couple of weeks ago, he and I share two things in common beyond being former co-workers.  First, we are both former workers, period.  Second, we are both over the dreaded age of 50.  Sure, there is no bias against age (the legally accepted term is “over-qualified”), but the reality is that older workers strike fear into the hearts of employers because of the stereotype that they are all ticking bombs of health care costs (as if no one under the age of 50 has medical expenses).

Okay, then.  So we’re not “job creating” for the young due to lack of experience and we’re not “job creating” for the old due to health costs (excuse me, too much experience).  Who is left?  The currently employed?

After a long period of layoffs and firings, two facts remain crystal clear to employees:  They should be glad they have a job and their bosses know it.  There is an old axiom that took me a long while to learn while I was working:  “Work to live, don’t live to work”.  There are many employees who are unhappy with their jobs but their fear of losing them steals their nerve from exploring other options.  Better the security of the job they have than the possibility of reaching for and failing to gain a new job.

All this doesn’t mean companies are run by soulless, evil and manipulative people.  What the current hiring situation reflects is the face of capitalism.  What incentive does a company have to hire more people when the people it has now are doing the work of the ones let go?  It’s not economically rational to add expense if there is no additional profit to be gained.

Will a healthier economy lead to more jobs?  No doubt, if one can get past the chicken or the egg paradox (people have to buy things to boost the economy, but they need jobs to be able to buy things).  But who ultimately gets hired?  Ignore the young from lack of experience and you create an entire generation forced to grow their debt before they even get employed.  Ignore the “old” from fear of health costs and you create an ever greater dependency on government support for their survival.

The issue isn’t creating more jobs, the issue is for whom are jobs being created?

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