Tag Archives: unemployment

Hiring American is harder than it sounds

From the New York Times

Mr. Harold, a 71-year-old Vietnam War veteran who drifted here in the late ’60s, has participated for about a decade in a federal program called H-2A that allows seasonal foreign workers into the country to make up the gap where willing and able American workers are few in number. He typically has brought in about 90 people from Mexico each year from July through October.

This year, though, with tough times lingering and a big jump in the minimum wage under the program, to nearly $10.50 an  hour, Mr. Harold brought in only two-thirds of his usual contingent. The other positions, he figured, would be snapped up by jobless local residents wanting some extra summer cash.

“It didn’t take me six hours to realize I’d made a heck of a mistake,” Mr. Harold said, standing in his onion field on a recent afternoon as a crew of workers from Mexico cut the tops off yellow onions and bagged them.

Six hours was enough, between the 6 a.m. start time and noon lunch break, for the first wave of local workers to quit. Some simply never came back and gave no reason. Twenty-five of them said specifically, according to farm records, that the work was too hard. On the Harold farm, pickers walk the rows alongside a huge harvest vehicle called a mule train, plucking ears of corn and handing them up to workers on the mule who box them and lift the crates, each weighing 45 to 50 pounds.

A friend of mine (who has hired migrant workers before) said his reason was simple, Americans won’t do many kinds of work.  It is kind of sad that with unemployment around 10% that unemployed workers won’t do some kinds of work.

The hardest job I ever had was with Custom Foundations in Saskatoon.  My bosses were good guys but it was incredibly hard work.  All day I was either carrying a 100 pound form into a basement pit or carrying a 100 pound form out of pit.  There were hundreds of trips.  I didn’t get paid that well but I didn’t spend a dime because I was too tired to out that summer.  Our crew was supposed to be five guys but there never more than three of us because the same thing would happen, guys would quit rather than work.

Unemployment and the deterioration of skills

A new paper put out about the long term unemployment rate by the San Francisco Federal Reserve has an interesting tidbit in it.

Workers out of jobs for extended periods may experience higher rates of unemployment owing to deterioration of skills and weakening labor market attachment. The previously discussed mismatch between skills and available jobs is likely to intensify this problem.

More on the subject on this paper by the Kansas City Federal Reserve (PDF). 

Unemployment takes it toll on the employed

Good article on what it is like for the working spouse of someone who has been laid off in Tampa Bay.

We know how unemployed people struggle. Dozens, if not hundreds, of candidates compete for every opening. People spend months sending out resumes, calling old contacts, straining to prop up their sagging self-esteem.

But what about their wives?

For a woman like Julie, being married to someone who is unemployed means working all the overtime you can get, but still worrying about losing your house. It means after a long day at the office you probably still have to do laundry and dishes, only now you have to make dinner too because you can’t afford to eat out. You’re working harder than ever, but you have to give up all the little things you used to do to reward yourself: drinks with a friend, a movie out, a new blouse from Target.

People try to understand, but they really don’t. They don’t know what it’s like to get up while he’s still sleeping and work all day knowing he’s home sitting in the dark because he doesn’t want to pay to run the lights. To pack your lunch because you can’t even afford fast food. To be stuck in that cramped house night after night, listening to the collection agents screaming on your answering machine. To spend your evenings watching shows like Intervention and Hoarders, anything to make your life seem less sad.

You can’t even enjoy that because you can’t really talk about anything. You don’t want to tell him about a good day at work when he’s been home all day, vegetating. You can’t complain about a bad day because at least you’re still working.

So what’s left? You tell him about the turtles you feed behind your office. He tells you about the fishing show he watched on TV. You talk about the kids and grandkids. You endure long silences. You try to go sleep, shut everything out. But sometimes you can’t because you’re thinking about all the things you can’t say, trying to take care of this man who once took care of you.

That’s the hardest part, Julie says, watching this person you love lose his pride, his sense of purpose.

It makes this sarcastic blog post come together as a response to Evan Longoria criticizing the Tampa Bay Rays fans for not showing up and paying to see him play baseball.

I don’t care that the there was no way of knowing that tonight’s game was going to be a clincher until well after midnight last night.  I don’t care that maybe you don’t have the money or the time to drop everything and head out to a baseball game.

Maybe you should’ve called in sick to that second job you’ve got in the evening.  Don’t worry, there’s not other people out there trying for the same job.  Maybe you should find someone else to watch the kids while your husband is working overtime.   Or maybe you should play hooky.

I don’t care that maybe you’re trying to save a few of your extra dollars to put toward a playoff ticket or two. I don’t care that you have other obligations for your money. 

Dig deep.  Real fans don’t make excuses, they figure out a way to get to the game.  I don’t care that your house is upside down.  If you were a real fan, you’d figure out a way to borrow the money to get to the game. 

I’m sick of your excuses. You’re pathetic.  The Rays deserve better than fans that can’t make it happen without a little bit of corporate support.  Forget the fact that your boss has trouble justifying tickets for clients after the last round of layoffs and furloughs.  Forget that you live in an area with one of the highest unemployment rates in the country.  Just do your part and be a real fan.

Unemployed long haired freaky people need not apply

Unemployed are often being excluded from job searches

The last thing someone who is unemployed needs to be told is that they shouldn’t even apply for the limited number of job openings that are available. But some companies and recruiters are doing just that.

Employment experts say they believe companies are increasingly interested only in applicants who already have a job.

"I think it is more prevalent than it used to be," said Rich Thompson, vice president of learning and performance for Adecco Group North America, the world’s largest staffing firm. "I don’t have hard numbers, but three out of the last four conversations I’ve had about openings, this requirement was brought up."

Some job postings include restrictions such as "unemployed candidates will not be considered" or "must be currently employed." Those explicit limitations have occasionally been removed from listings when an employer or recruiter is questioned by the media though.

That’s what happened with numerous listings for grocery store managers throughout the Southeast posted by a South Carolina recruiter, Latro Consulting.

After CNNMoney called seeking comments on the listings last week, the restriction against unemployed candidates being considered came down. Latro Consulting refused to comment when contacted.

Sony Ericsson, a global phone manufacturer that was hiring for a new Georgia facility, also removed a similar restriction after local reporters wrote about it. According to reports, a Sony Ericsson spokesperson said that a mistake had been made.

But even if companies don’t spell out in a job listing that they won’t consider someone who currently doesn’t have a job, experts said that unemployed applicants are typically ruled out right off the bat.

"Most executive recruiters won’t look at a candidate unless they have a job, even if they don’t like to admit to it," said Lisa Chenofsky Singer, a human resources consultant from Millburn, NJ, specializing in media and publishing jobs.

She said when she proposes candidates for openings, the first question she is often asked by a recruiter is if they currently have a job. If the answer is no, she’s typically told the unemployed candidate won’t be interviewed.

"They think you must have been laid off for performance issues," she said, adding that this is a "myth" in a time of high unemployment.

The New Poor: Years Between Jobs

The New York Times looks at the impact of being unemployed for years not just months as people were in the past.

Economists fear that the nascent recovery will leave more people behind than in past recessions, failing to create jobs in sufficient numbers to absorb the record-setting ranks of the long-term unemployed.

Call them the new poor: people long accustomed to the comforts of middle-class life who are now relying on public assistance for the first time in their lives — potentially for years to come.

Yet the social safety net is already showing severe strains. Roughly 2.7 million jobless people will lose their unemployment check before the end of April unless Congress approves the Obama administration’s proposal to extend the payments, according to the Labor Department.

One thing that hit me was how slowly the system works, both here and the United States and yet politicians seem uninterested in doing anything about it.  There are a couple of NDP and Sask. Party MLA’s readers of this blog and I think it would be a great campaign promise.  Let’s get a series of public benchmark’s created, measured, and evaluated for stuff like Social Service benefit delivery (I have heard some horrible stories), emergency room wait lines, elective surgery wait times (you have those already), and also see if we could pressure the feds in speeding delivery of EI  and disability checks so people are forced to lose their apartments.

When the company moved to Mexico in the early 1990s, Ms. Eisen quickly found a job at a travel agency. When online booking killed that business, she got the job at the beauty salon equipment company. It paid $13.25 an hour, with an annual bonus — enough for presents under the Christmas tree.

But six years ago, her husband took a fall at work and then succumbed to various ailments — diabetes, liver disease, high blood pressure — leaving him confined to the couch. Not until 2008 did he secure his disability check.

And now they find themselves in this desert of joblessness, her paycheck replaced by a $702 unemployment check every other week. She received 14 weeks of benefits after she lost her job, and then a seven-week extension.

For most of October through December 2008, she received nothing, as she waited for another extension. The checks came again, then ran out in September 2009. They were restored by an extension right before Christmas.

Their daughter has back problems and is living on disability checks, making the church their ultimate safety net.

“I never thought I’d be in the position where I had to go to a food bank,” Ms. Eisen said. But there she is, standing in the parking lot of the Calvary Chapel church, chatting with a half-dozen women, all waiting to enter the Bread of Life Food Pantry.

The young and the unemployed

From the Toronto Star

With about a million British youth unemployed, ours is hardly an isolated crisis. A recent editorial in the conservative U.K. Economist says the "plight of the jobless young … invokes talk of a lost generation." It notes the well-known phenomenon that "prolonged unemployment early in people’s working lives will leave them scarred in the long term. Youngsters who have been jobless for a year or more tend to do worse in the labour market for the rest of their lives."

Joblessness among the young is a global epidemic. By recent UN calculations, young people make up about 25 per cent of the world’s working population, but they account for 40 per cent of the unemployed.

"For the young" UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said earlier this month, "informal, insecure and low-wage employment is the norm, not the exception."

Julie is enrolled to start at Centennial College next month. The tuition for her course in "Community and the Justice Services" is about $6,000 a year, a bit higher than the Canadian average annual tuition of $5,000. Or a total of about $12,000 to earn her two-year diploma.

Julie’s eyes light up as she describes her career goals. The Centennial program is a pioneering one that integrates criminology with social work, training students to coordinate the services of police, the Salvation Army, spousal abuse centres and career-counselling services. "You’re not trying to fix just one aspect of an individual’s problems," Julie says. "Finally, you’re looking at the whole person."

But Julie won’t be going to Centennial this year, after all. Her job – with its low wage and number of work hours available – didn’t allow her to save the $3,000 for her first five-month semester. And the daycare fees for her 3 1/2-year-old son, Malachi, and other costs have caught up with her.

The other option is take out student loans to get a better paying job

With university or college accreditation increasingly compulsory for fulfilling careers, more young people are graduating with a mountain of debt. A debt burden of $30,000 to $40,000 is not uncommon for graduates heading into relatively low-paying vocations such as teaching, nursing, social work and urban planning.

The better-paying careers in law, on Bay Street, in specialized branches of medicine and engineering, require even heftier debt loads. Because starting salaries in those fields are so much higher, the insidious effect is to dissuade young people from vocations of choice in, say, teaching or social work. Those would trap them in debt for perhaps a decade, and require them to postpone the expense that comes with starting a family.

The prospect of a "lost generation" due to long-term unemployment is an increasing fear among social scientists.

"This is just the start of a long and downward spiral, which all too often leads to crime, homelessness, or worse," Martina Milburn, CEO of the Prince’s Trust, a British non-profit organization, said recently. "Only by stopping young people falling out of the system can we rescue this lost potential."

As the global recession set in last year, Canadian youth joblessness of 11.6 per cent of the 15- to 24-year-old labour force was a bit lower than the average for the 30 industrial nations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But even then, job prospects for Canadian youth trailed those of the Netherlands, Japan, Denmark, Australia and South Korea, nations with more comprehensive government-subsidized training and work-placement programs.

Maybe the recession isn’t over yet

From Bob Herbert in the New York Times

For those concerned with the economic viability of the American family going forward, the plight of young workers, especially young men, is particularly frightening. The percentage of young American men who are actually working is the lowest it has been in the 61 years of record-keeping, according to the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University in Boston.

Only 65 of every 100 men aged 20 through 24 years old were working on any given day in the first six months of this year. In the age group 25 through 34 years old, traditionally a prime age range for getting married and starting a family, just 81 of 100 men were employed.

For male teenagers, the numbers were disastrous: only 28 of every 100 males were employed in the 16- through 19-year-old age group. For minority teenagers, forget about it. The numbers are beyond scary; they’re catastrophic.

This should be the biggest story in the United States. When joblessness reaches these kinds of extremes, it doesn’t just damage individual families; it corrodes entire communities, fosters a sense of hopelessness and leads to disorder.

The unemployment that has wrought such devastation in black communities for decades is now being experienced by a much wider swath of the population. We’ve been in deep denial about this. Way back in March 2007, when the official unemployment rate was a wildly deceptive 4.5 percent and the Bush crowd was crowing about the alleged strength of the economy, I wrote:

“People can howl all they want about how well the economy is doing. The simple truth is that millions of ordinary American workers are in an employment bind. Steady jobs with good benefits are going the way of Ozzie and Harriet. Young workers, especially, are hurting, which diminishes the prospects for the American family. And blacks, particularly black males, are in a deep danger zone.”

The official jobless rate is now more than twice as high — 9.4 percent — and even more wildly deceptive. It ticked down by 0.1 percent last month not because more people found jobs, but because 450,000 people withdrew from the labor market. They stopped looking, so they weren’t counted as unemployed.

A truer picture of the employment crisis emerges when you combine the number of people who are officially counted as jobless with those who are working part time because they can’t find full-time work and those in the so-called labor market reserve — people who are not actively looking for work (because they have become discouraged, for example) but would take a job if one became available.

The tally from those three categories is a mind-boggling 30 million Americans — 19 percent of the overall work force.

This is, by far, the nation’s biggest problem and should be its No. 1 priority.

Don’t Check Up

Don't Check Up As a NASCAR fan, you lose perspective over how many job losses hit the sport this year but there has been 700 highly educated mechanic, fabricators, and engineers who have been laid off.  Don’t Check Up is a job search website just for NASCAR employees who have been let go during the recession.  The back story is here.

The site is part of an unemployment task force, founded by former Lowe’s Motor Speedway president Humpy Wheeler and the North Carolina Motorsports Association, that attempts to assist displaced workers as well as keep them in the state.

“We’ve actually been working with the biotech industry, which has connections to fabrication jobs. Things in the medical device industry are real similar to racing, with the precision and time constraints and all that,” said Shawn Stewart, marketing and membership director of the NCMA. “We’re trying to promote these workers and what kind of value they might bring to a company that’s non-motorsports. Either they stay in another career path or come back to racing, but either way, if those jobs don’t come back, they’re still in the area and still employed.”