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Old 03-06-2020, 10:34 PM
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Jobless and struggling to find employment in a "booming economy"


What do you think?

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/31/b...nemployed.html
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Old 03-07-2020, 04:02 AM
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From OP's link:
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A recent survey by Gallup found that a majority of Americans do not consider themselves to be in a “good job.”
...
Working even one hour during the week when the Labor Department does its employment survey keeps you out of the jobless category.
...
One in four workers say they have unpredictable work schedules, which can have insidious effects on family life. One in five adults who are employed say they want to work more hours. Annual wage growth has struggled to reach 3 percent. And nearly 40 percent of Americans, a Federal Reserve report found, are in such a financially precarious state that they say they would have trouble finding $400 for an unexpected expense like a car repair or a medical bill.
Might Andrew Yang have been on to something?
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Old 03-07-2020, 04:14 AM
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Yang, no. Getting money for nothing isn't going to help - a lot of people already get money for nothing or worse, for doing something harmful.

Imagine all the rooms full of well paid workers whose jobs could disappear and the world would be better.

Health insurance, advertising, financial speculation.

The point should be to make work worthwhile so that people know they are doing something useful.
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Old 03-07-2020, 08:33 AM
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The point should be to make work worthwhile so that people know they are doing something useful.
And how exactly do we do that? And since when has that been The matter? The US has been inevitably gliding down the post WWII economy in which the (mostly white) majority of a very large (mostly white) middle-class could expect to have a "good job" regardless of it being "worthwhile." The woman in the article once had one of those kinds of jobs that organizations everywhere could afford to offer--a "good job" that is stable, full-time and with benefits--even though the position wasn't really critical to the organization's operation. Over the decades, organizations have been cutting out these positions, or making them more contingent, or outsourcing, contracting, or otherwise reducing them so that such jobs are fewer and fewer now--often taking advantage of technology to do so. The result is that the organization itself survives, (and a small number of people at the top continue to have really well-paid positions), while the proportion of these unstable, part-time, non-benefit jobs rises.

All this time our society has been ignoring this, and continuing to think that just by getting a four-year degree someone would still be guaranteed one of these "good jobs" that are getting to be fewer and fewer. The institutions of higher education made things worse by just raising tuition and emphasizing the four year degrees (over two-year degrees and certification).

The "booming economy" is just another form of denial. Employment rates are technically up, but that's predicated upon a much lower quality of life--a vanishing middle-class of the type people once took for granted. So while things have improved somewhat for non-whites and women, many of the white majority is starting to live like the others have always lived. Overall, it's mostly only the people at the top who have it better, and on average things are worse for everyone else.
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Old 03-07-2020, 10:00 AM
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You'll always find some jobless in a hot economy, and some doing very well in a recession.
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Old 03-07-2020, 10:43 AM
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And how exactly do we do that? And since when has that been The matter? The US has been inevitably gliding down the post WWII economy in which the (mostly white) majority of a very large (mostly white) middle-class could expect to have a "good job" regardless of it being "worthwhile." The woman in the article once had one of those kinds of jobs that organizations everywhere could afford to offer--a "good job" that is stable, full-time and with benefits--even though the position wasn't really critical to the organization's operation. Over the decades, organizations have been cutting out these positions, or making them more contingent, or outsourcing, contracting, or otherwise reducing them so that such jobs are fewer and fewer now--often taking advantage of technology to do so. The result is that the organization itself survives, (and a small number of people at the top continue to have really well-paid positions), while the proportion of these unstable, part-time, non-benefit jobs rises.

All this time our society has been ignoring this, and continuing to think that just by getting a four-year degree someone would still be guaranteed one of these "good jobs" that are getting to be fewer and fewer. The institutions of higher education made things worse by just raising tuition and emphasizing the four year degrees (over two-year degrees and certification).

The "booming economy" is just another form of denial. Employment rates are technically up, but that's predicated upon a much lower quality of life--a vanishing middle-class of the type people once took for granted. So while things have improved somewhat for non-whites and women, many of the white majority is starting to live like the others have always lived. Overall, it's mostly only the people at the top who have it better, and on average things are worse for everyone else.

So I continuously hear this narrative that people aren't able to find jobs or the ones they can find don't enable them to afford to raise a family. Except that I don't actually see this. Over the past 40+ years, everyone I know pretty much has a job. Some are just ok. Some are great jobs. Most are kind of in the middle. So maybe this is taking place in regions of the country where I don't frequent?

That said, "work" feels very different than it did 30 years ago when I was in college studying for a career. In the old days, people just took a job and went to "work" for decades. Kind of like The Office, Office Space or any other workplace comedy. Basically, the company could hire any shmuck, tell them what their job is and as long as they made some effort grinding away at it, they would have a paycheck.

These days, every company is looking for "rock stars". Every place I work seems to wildly vacillate between "explosive growth" and "one lost deal away from missing their numbers". No one (including myself) actually seems to know how anything actually works as all the actual working on stuff is outsourced to Indian dudes.
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Old 03-07-2020, 10:52 AM
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Been there done that.

Between the ages of 18 and 34 I was virtually unemployable (or whatever the adjective that would mean "can't get a fucking job and keep it no matter what"). Amazing what a set of educational and professional credentials can do for a person. Got a whole lot better when I hit 39 and began working in the tech field (amazing what the combo of tech skills & experience plus owning a prick can do for a person). But with just a HS diploma and a willingness to show up on time and work hard and conscientiously didn't get me jack shit. (A whole lot of the invisible criteria for getting employed has to do with matching up with the employer's preconceived notions of what you ought to be like. I totally didn't mesh until I got a professional degree and then all of a sudden my vocabulary and nuances of behavior fit in a whole lot better with their expectations).

Anyone who says or thinks that anybody who is willing to work can get a job is full of shit.

Last edited by AHunter3; 03-07-2020 at 10:53 AM.
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Old 03-07-2020, 12:29 PM
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I'll go on full Social Security in June. Paywise that will leave me teetering on the edge of "enough," so I want a job. Sure, a fulltime job doing what left me most satisfied and paid might be nice, but I'm a bit handicapped now and way too old for that shit. Instead, my daughter found an ad (probably under her windshield wiper) for work at home cold calling. I've done that for a reputable company just like downtown, and I look at any company that does that sort of gorilla marketing with a tin eye, but it shows a possible path.

My point is that a person who is fairly with-it can usually find a job if they set their sights lower. And remember that there is no one on the SDMB too far to the left of mean on the intelligence bell curve. You are not competing with the best and the brightest.

And the next time I hear some biddy croak, "But I'm on a limited income," I will scream, " Yours may be limited, but just try irregular sometime. "
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Old 03-07-2020, 01:28 PM
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Originally Posted by Yankees 1996 Champs View Post
What do you think?
What do you think?

I think it's heavy on feels and light on facts. Best of times, worst of times, there will always be people who struggle to find the sort of job they'd like, or any job at all. For a variety of reasons. Pick any year, and we could tell Laura Ward's story. So it's not particularly informative.

Yes, millions of people are "part time for economic reasons." The percentage of the labor force that this describes is usually about 3.5%. Right now it's 2.6%, down from nearly 6%. It's never been below 2% for as long as BLS has measured it. And it's been steadily decreasing over the past decade.

No, "the unemployment rate" (U-3) doesn't tell the full picture. The U-6 rate, "Unemployed, Plus All Persons Marginally Attached to the Labor Force, Plus Total Employed Part Time for Economic Reasons, as a Percent of the Civilian Labor Force Plus All Persons Marginally Attached to the Labor Force" tells more, and it stood at 7% last month. That metric too is unusually low and has been steadily decreasing over the past decade.

Core-age workforce participation has been increasing for the last 5 years. So not only are more people joining the workforce, but they're finding jobs too.

So while the overall numbers are good, the trends are good too. We're moving in the right direction. I don't credit the president with this. But even if things get wildly better, we will still have Laura Wards. And how to craft policy that addresses them is always relevant.

The article invokes "good jobs" without giving us good numbers to work with. They mention erratic schedules, but while an erratic schedule can make for a bad job, it can also be a well-compensated part of a good job. I have an erratic schedule but my clients pay good money for it. Same with my physician friends. But a 20 h/w MW "just-in-time" retail job that basically keeps you on call so you can't get a second job? Probably not a "good job". But to have a serious discussion, it helps to have numbers and trends. Which are scant in the article.

One number to hone in on if you want to be concerned might be the percentage of unemployed who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or more. That's around 20%. 20% used to be the peak after a recession. Now it seems to be the baseline. We could talk about why.
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Old 03-07-2020, 01:36 PM
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...And the next time I hear some biddy croak, "But I'm on a limited income," I will scream, " Yours may be limited, but just try irregular sometime. "
Trouble being, the very bottom tier of employment is human chewing gum, they chew you up, then spit you out. I get very few cold calls, but enough to notice a shift: nearly impenetrable foreign accents. Which is to say, they have outsourced even that!

I am not a macro-economist, but it looks to my gimlet eye that the American economy is far too deep into debt as an asset. Credit card debt, student loan debt, the public fiscal face of our corporadoes is debt. Like the housing bubble of yore, it is based on a mutually reinforced myth, the story that most if not all of that debt will be paid. Me, I don't believe it, but I'm just some guy on a message board.

A lot of people are going to miss a lot of work if the sewer tea leaves are accurate. And a huge number of us are solvent, but just barely. Can they repackage that debt and sell it to somebody else? Somebody who is not affected by the grim specter of virus economics? Mind you, this is not about people dying, its about people not going to work!

So, yeah, there will be a lot of opportunity in the debt collection sector. But even more of us poor dumb shmucks getting those calls even as we make them. And even more of us treating splinters in our fingernails from scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Bit of a pessimist when it comes to late stage capitalism. Sometimes wrong, just not often enough.

Last edited by elucidator; 03-07-2020 at 01:39 PM. Reason: Malform follows malfunction
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Old 03-07-2020, 03:38 PM
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I think that life sucks for some people. And, some people can’t get out of their own way.

Sorry, but I just never work up any reaction over these types of stories.
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Old 03-07-2020, 03:43 PM
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That said, "work" feels very different than it did 30 years ago when I was in college studying for a career. In the old days, people just took a job and went to "work" for decades. Kind of like The Office, Office Space or any other workplace comedy. Basically, the company could hire any shmuck, tell them what their job is and as long as they made some effort grinding away at it, they would have a paycheck.
And even then people complained. Take Office Space. It came out in 1999 when the economy was booming and everyone was in good paying tech jobs. The main character in Office Space had a good paying gig, he had the freedom for him and his co-workers to go eat breakfast for an hour or so, had friends at work, etc. yet the whole theme of the movie was the soulless, boring, corporate world of the late 90s.

*spoilers (if necessary for that movie). He hates his job so much, he is willing to commit a felony to steal a lot of money so he doesn't have to work there anymore, even though his "new" attitude has put him on the promotion track. He ends up working construction because that is a job in which he doesn't have to put up with the corporate crap. Sure, I know that's just a movie, but they don't make movies unless a story appeals to people.

Closer to real life: That time after WWII when everyone had good jobs? Those everyone saved up money so that they could send their Boomer kids to college so that there kids would have it better than them.

Shorter version: At no time have people as a whole sat down and said that we really have it good and we just hope things stay the same forever.
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Old 03-07-2020, 06:19 PM
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Closer to real life: That time after WWII when everyone had good jobs? Those everyone saved up money so that they could send their Boomer kids to college so that there kids would have it better than them.
IF you were a white man. Anyone else? Not so much.

I have a degree that is useless in its field, which I don't want to work in anyway, and effectively prevents me from getting a job doing anything else, and that's why I started my home-based business. (I did apply to work for the Census a few months ago, but haven't heard anything from them yet.) I really think that, besides my age and degree, the fact that I am not covered in tattoos from head to toe is a hiring impediment.
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Old 03-07-2020, 08:27 PM
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What I think is that linking to a story in the NY Times, when that eats up one free story in March, without summing it up was uncool.
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Old 03-08-2020, 08:33 AM
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IF you were a white man. Anyone else? Not so much.
But your comeback goes basically in the same direction as the post you're responding to. 'White men' were not completely satisfied with the economy and job market in the 50's, at the time. Even besides later nostalgia, plus or minus racial backbiting.

The point in terms of 'politics and elections' is that the electorate as a whole is never economically satisfied to the point of rewarding one party or the other out of gratitude. They might indeed though vote for the incumbent person/party based on the trend being positive and/or unease about the opposition possibly overturning the apple cart. Which I think would be a serious issue for a Bernie Sanders nomination in this economy, but that's getting toward being a moot point. A Biden candidacy doesn't pose that issue nearly as much, in perception anyway.

IOW the good news if you're a Democrat like the great majority of posters here, you don't actually have to relentlessly talk down the economy and job market, for example find examples of SOL people in the job market, there always are some. You can admit the employment picture in the US is good (which it obviously is, and it can help to be at least somewhat willing to admit the obvious). Or not emphasize that (I doubt Biden will be relentlessly flogging how people can't find work) but tell the voters how you'd make myriad other things better, or less bad, without upsetting that situation. It's an altogether workable election strategy, though obviously depending on filling in the details right. Because people's expectations are high and move up along with progress, current reality never fulfills them.

Last edited by Corry El; 03-08-2020 at 08:35 AM.
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Old 03-08-2020, 09:22 AM
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So I continuously hear this narrative that people aren't able to find jobs or the ones they can find don't enable them to afford to raise a family. Except that I don't actually see this. Over the past 40+ years, everyone I know pretty much has a job. Some are just ok. Some are great jobs. Most are kind of in the middle. So maybe this is taking place in regions of the country where I don't frequent?

That said, "work" feels very different than it did 30 years ago when I was in college studying for a career. ...
Not to criticize you, but how many of "everyone you know" stopped school after graduating HS? Or dropped out of HS?

I think there are a couple of different "classes" of workers who might perceive difficulty. One is the college grad who is working pretty low level retail or such. Especially if they have amassed debt.

A different class is the unskilled unedecuated, who faces a lifetime of minimum - or near-min - wage jobs. Neither such group has the prospects of buying a home and raising a family as comfortably as the former union-member blue collar worker.

Of course, I have long said, why ought we presume that an economy would create as many "good: jobs as there are prospective workers? What do we do w/ more workers than are needed - given increases in efficiency/mechanization?
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Old 03-08-2020, 10:18 AM
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Yeah if you're starting anything with "everyone I know" that's a good prompt to just stop writing. Especially when there's basic-ass government data available on the topic. No fancy analysis required. Here's BLS on workforce participation and unemployment by educational attainment: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t04.htm
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Old 03-09-2020, 09:27 AM
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Not to criticize you, but how many of "everyone you know" stopped school after graduating HS? Or dropped out of HS?
I realize that my observations tend to skew towards educated, employed people. Still, it's a larger sample than a newspaper article about one person who can't seem to find a job in the NJ/NY metro area for three years.

My point is that for all the hand-wringing over "people struggling to support their families", it does seem to me that most people ultimately do figure out how to support their family. Maybe not a Google or Goldman Sach worker's salary, but then again, most people also don't live in Palo Alto or Manhattan either.

I tell you want I would be interested in seeing. Some kind of stats that compares income relative to the cost of living available within reasonable commuting distance. That would normalize between someone struggling to raise a family in San Francisco on $200k a year and a school teacher in upstate New York able to do so comfortable on $60k year.





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Yeah if you're starting anything with "everyone I know" that's a good prompt to just stop writing. Especially when there's basic-ass government data available on the topic. No fancy analysis required. Here's BLS on workforce participation and unemployment by educational attainment: https://www.bls.gov/news.release/empsit.t04.htm
So...unemployment is low. Good?
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Old 03-09-2020, 10:27 AM
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Depends. We have built a consumer economy. If all the consumers have jobs, that's probably good. But if they have jobs that leave them with no "spending money", well, no.

Last edited by elucidator; 03-09-2020 at 10:27 AM.
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Old 03-09-2020, 10:31 AM
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Depends. We have built a consumer economy. If all the consumers have jobs, that's probably good. But if they have jobs that leave them with no "spending money", well, no.
What other economy is there?
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Old 03-09-2020, 10:50 AM
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So...unemployment is low. Good?
That's all that you got out of that link?

Granted, I work with demographic numbers like this for my job, but here are a few observations I can make from it:

Employment (and unemployment) are strongly correlated with education level.
- For people with less than a high school education, the unemployment rate (5.7%) is three times as high as for people with a college degree (1.9%).
- For people who only have a high school diploma, their unemployment rate (3.6%) is nearly twice as high as for those with a college degree.

Also, the unemployment rate is only calculated among those people who are actually "in the civilian labor force" (i.e., currently working, or looking for work). For those with a college degree, the "participation rate" is 73%; for those with only a high school diploma, it's 58%, and for those who did not graduate from high school, it's only 48%. This suggests that a lot of those people have, essentially, given up on trying to find work (though, certainly, a percentage of them are stay-at-home parents, retirees, etc.).
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Old 03-09-2020, 11:15 AM
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That's all that you got out of that link?

Granted, I work with demographic numbers like this for my job, but here are a few observations I can make from it:

Employment (and unemployment) are strongly correlated with education level.
- For people with less than a high school education, the unemployment rate (5.7%) is three times as high as for people with a college degree (1.9%).
- For people who only have a high school diploma, their unemployment rate (3.6%) is nearly twice as high as for those with a college degree.

Also, the unemployment rate is only calculated among those people who are actually "in the civilian labor force" (i.e., currently working, or looking for work). For those with a college degree, the "participation rate" is 73%; for those with only a high school diploma, it's 58%, and for those who did not graduate from high school, it's only 48%. This suggests that a lot of those people have, essentially, given up on trying to find work (though, certainly, a percentage of them are stay-at-home parents, retirees, etc.).
It's entirely meaningless to quote a snapshot that includes categories of people who don't want to be in the work force (retirees, work for family at home by choice etc), just referring to them non-quantitatively, then also just seem to rely on the numbers looking 'low' to make the point.

The relevant stats are easy to get. See link for a graph on participation rate of prime working age people, it's definitely increased in the last few years. Likewise the broader measure of unemployment, U6, has trended down in parallel with the 'headline' U3 rate (second link), and like the U3 it's now similar to level in late Clinton years where there isn't much debate it was a 'good employment situation'. Although for 'historic low' comparisons U6 hasn't been calculated for as long as U3 has.
https://www.brookings.edu/blog/up-fr...participation/
https://www.macrotrends.net/1377/u6-unemployment-rate

Which if any politician should be 'credited' with this is a political opinion discussion with no factual answer. However the idea 'no, the employment situation isn't really OK, see this individual person, or look at this number in a vacuum, isn't it pretty high/low?' that's stretching it IMHO. The employment situation in US now by the relevant measures is pretty good and better than a few years ago. Running against the person in office while that happened you're probably better off emphasizing the other things you could do better or he's done wrong than trying to argue that the basic employment situation isn't pretty good.
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Old 03-09-2020, 11:26 AM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
That's all that you got out of that link?

Granted, I work with demographic numbers like this for my job, but here are a few observations I can make from it:

Employment (and unemployment) are strongly correlated with education level.
- For people with less than a high school education, the unemployment rate (5.7%) is three times as high as for people with a college degree (1.9%).
- For people who only have a high school diploma, their unemployment rate (3.6%) is nearly twice as high as for those with a college degree.

Also, the unemployment rate is only calculated among those people who are actually "in the civilian labor force" (i.e., currently working, or looking for work). For those with a college degree, the "participation rate" is 73%; for those with only a high school diploma, it's 58%, and for those who did not graduate from high school, it's only 48%. This suggests that a lot of those people have, essentially, given up on trying to find work (though, certainly, a percentage of them are stay-at-home parents, retirees, etc.).
Also, some of them that wouldn’t be considered in the civilian work force are part of the underground economy. That doesn’t necessarily mean drug dealing, prostitution or other criminal activity. They could also be the landscaper or help out at their buddy’s restaurant.
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Old 03-09-2020, 01:11 PM
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So...unemployment is low. Good?
The point is that "everyone you know" is not a representative slice of the US population and is impossible to base an informed post on. Very possible to base uninformed posts on.
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Old 03-10-2020, 03:15 PM
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Originally Posted by kenobi 65 View Post
That's all that you got out of that link?

Granted, I work with demographic numbers like this for my job, but here are a few observations I can make from it:

Employment (and unemployment) are strongly correlated with education level.
- For people with less than a high school education, the unemployment rate (5.7%) is three times as high as for people with a college degree (1.9%).
- For people who only have a high school diploma, their unemployment rate (3.6%) is nearly twice as high as for those with a college degree.

Also, the unemployment rate is only calculated among those people who are actually "in the civilian labor force" (i.e., currently working, or looking for work). For those with a college degree, the "participation rate" is 73%; for those with only a high school diploma, it's 58%, and for those who did not graduate from high school, it's only 48%. This suggests that a lot of those people have, essentially, given up on trying to find work (though, certainly, a percentage of them are stay-at-home parents, retirees, etc.).
Yes, I also work with numbers and graphs.

This doesn't tell me anything I haven't know for as long as I could conceptualize the concept of a "job". That there is a strong correlation between education, employment and compensation.

It's not like jobs for college or high school dropouts were that great 30 years ago either. Those were jobs I worked to make extra money while I was in high school and college - fast food, restaurants, retail, factory and light industrial, low-level office clerical, warehouse work, manual labor. They paid minimum wage or close to it. They were dirty and unpleasant. Much of it has been permanently outsourced or automated.




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The point is that "everyone you know" is not a representative slice of the US population and is impossible to base an informed post on. Very possible to base uninformed posts on.
You don't have enough data to determine who I know and how closely they correlate to a cross section of the greater population of the US.
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Old 03-10-2020, 04:36 PM
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These days, every company is looking for "rock stars".
I think this is a huge failing of modern companies. There seems to be little tolerance for doing what in former times, would be called a 'workmanlike' job- maybe not awesome, maybe not spectacular, or gorgeous or whatever, but solid, good and well done.

Nope, they're looking for that one-in-a-million employee who will work 70 hour weeks, volunteer on the weekends wearing a company shirt, AND do a spectacularly good job at it all, as well as innovate new ways of doing the company's business.

There are people like that, I'm sure. But they're exceedingly rare. Most people are able to do that workmanlike job at their career, and that should be rewarded, not treated like it's just the bare minimum. It sends the wrong message and is a powerfully demotivating thing to people who aren't rock stars. They feel that if doing a good job isn't enough, so why bother? And they disengage from their jobs emotionally and coast.

I have to think this costs the companies far more money than if they just rewarded good work appropriately, rather than listening to a bunch of dumb-ass MBAs who read too much Jack Welch and think his BS actually applies to the rank and file people.

(and I'm one of those dumb-ass MBAs)
  #27  
Old 03-10-2020, 06:36 PM
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