In Part One of my Unemployment post, I asked about people's thoughts about the extra $600 unemployment benefit in 2020 and general experiences with unemployment. Following the timeline of initially being laid off through no fault of your own, especially during the COVID shutdowns, let's start with just contacting the office and applying online. It was a disaster and nearly impossible for many people to get through. For me it was simple to just fill out the information and go through the process online, but I was lucky to have things actually work the way they were supposed to. My wife had some issues with things needing clarification and she called day after day, even right at opening and never got through - ever. Even months later there still wasn't anyone available to answer phones. Why? Shouldn't the offices have hired more people to help since there's obviously a lot of people out of work now and there is a need to further staff the unemployment office? Can somebody please answer me this? I would love to get some insight from someone that works in an unemployment office to tell us what was going on from their end.
In an attempt to get some insight from others and learn more about the experience, I asked the following questions: "What do you think about the extra $600/week unemployment benefit in 2020? Was it too much? Not enough? If you got on it did you make more than you would have otherwise working? Besides not having an income, what else annoys or annoyed you about being unemployed and job searching?"
Aaron S said, “It’s 300 free dollars that was not needed. People need to go back to work, not be paid extra not to. This ‘extra’ money they are giving away could go to different places for sure - not make laziness a thing.”
To which, David C. replied, “Maybe it was needed for many people. Kids aren't in schools yet, so it's either go to work and pay childcare or stay home and collect UI, which I'm sure most have paid into, at least at the state level.
Wendy H in Central Point, Oregon shared her experience saying, "Contacting the unemployment office was impossible. I find it stupid that the local city offices can provide no assistance. The extra 600 equalled my usual pay."
So I reached out for a follow up and while she didn't agree to a brief interview recording, she did answer my question when I asked, "Why did you have to contact the unemployment office? Did something go wrong with the application or forms? How many times did you try? Did you ever get through? Did you ever get the assistance you needed?"
Her response was: "The 600 equaled my regular pay, so I didn't lose any income at all. I had to call because I had questions. I'm a school employee, which opened up a whole new set of questions at that time. The online process was great otherwise. I never got through ever. Probably tried at least 50 different times over several weeks." Thank you, Wendy.
It's interesting that unemployment offices sometimes seem to be strong in verifying information and rooting out fraud, but then weak at the same time where a lot of people can't even get through to talk to someone about their case. In the case of fighting fraud, if the unemployment office is doing its job correctly, they actually do their due diligence to find the truth about your claim. Frauds can be caught and get in big trouble! For an example of their investigating, they contacted my former employer to verify some information and then contacted my new employer to verify information when I got a new job and made sure everything is 100% accurate and follows the rules. It was actually really embarrassing for me to have my new employer have to talk to someone regarding my recent unemployment. Even though the unemployment office is careful about some things, I'm sure other fraudulent stuff still sneaks through. Sometime people get stuck when their account gets flagged for review and then nobody in the unemployment office actually reviews it or they don't get to it for several weeks. My wife's case had that problem where it got flagged for changes in information, but then we never heard from anyone to get some closure or move forward on that until 6 months later.
I made a similar post on reddit seeking input from people and one person responded saying, "To this day, I still regret not quitting my job, falsely claiming unemployment, and spending the entire summer traveling the national parks making more money than I do working full time." Yeah, that would sound nice to some, but in the first point, you would probably get caught in the fraud and punished. The second point is that people were not supposed to be traveling or leaving their homes much for anything, but this does raise the issue of the fact that many people were jealous of the unemployment benefit.
Another reddit user commented: "The $600/week is already more than what I bring home in net salary income. I make more than $20/hour but I’m single with no kids so taxes. The people who are still working and making less are getting screwed for working pretty much. No higher pay for many with the added pleasure of being exposed to more people and potentially the virus. It’s nice to have a job and have health insurance through all this but I can hardly blame some people who are working and bitter about it. Being paid to stay home yet a lot of people aren’t. There’s a lot of factors that people are upset about..."
I want to highlight this situation that there were many people that had to keep working and they were earning less than they would have if they were just sent home and onto the unemployment payroll. They wouldn't qualify if they just quit on their own though. They had to be laid off through no fault of their own. It would've been nice to see them actually get extra pay in their checks too - which some companies did offer bonuses, but I don't think most of these people received more than they would have if they got the extra $600 instead. What a frustrating situation to be in!
Here are three more reddit responses: The first said, “The extra $600 a week brought my salary to just slightly under what I was making before being laid off. It did keep me from running out to get the first low paying job I could, but that was preferable for several reasons:
Another redditor said, “I was making just slightly more. It was frustrating hearing people say things like ‘No one wants to work, people on unemployment have no pride,’ etc. Though I hated my last job, I didn’t ask to be laid off. They just delivered the news to me at 5:00 on a Friday and that was it for me. I felt very lucky to get that extra $600 on top of what my state paid me. It kept me afloat so I could spend my days searching for work and staying safe during the pandemic. I didn’t need to seek further assistance and kept my rent payments. It was a nice break. I had just worked a really terrible job with a micro-manager and it destroyed me mentally and emotionally; but it was also crappy cause half the companies had hiring freezes on top of how difficult the hiring process already is. It was anything but a walk in the park. I didn’t travel ‘cause I didn’t know when I’d find the job, so I was saving money best I could and also doing my part by not traveling during a pandemic. I didn’t get to see people or do anything really.”
Another Reddit commented, "It completely baffles me that for many people, the take-away is that unemployment benefits should be less instead of companies being required to pay fair and decent wages." This is an unfortunate situation that I feel bad happened to so many, but I'll leave the topic of "fair and decent wages" for another time. There is one particular response from a business owner that addresses this which I will share later on.
Moving on now in the timeline from getting onto to the unemployment payroll, what's next for you? Do you have a job to go back to when things open up? Are you going to switch careers and do something else, or try getting back into what you were doing, just with someone else? Jennifer Newman wrote me and said, "I made the same as when I worked. I didn't go get a different job as I had a job waiting for me when they were able to reopen. Then got laid off again with no extra benefits this time, so any money I did save is now gone. I'm hoping to go back to work but as I was in the food service industry it’s a crapshoot; and all those people who say go get a job - I have a job waiting to reopen."
This serves as a great transition to the situation as of April 2021. Many businesses are now hiring again, but having a difficult time bringing in employees. My community facebook page had a hot topic of people complaining that there are too many lazy people that don't want to work because unemployment pays so well during the pandemic extended benefits. What spurred this conversation was that people noticed some workplaces were hiring and getting very few or no applications for a long time. They continued to double-down on the claim that there are jobs everywhere. Companies hiring can't get any applicants and struggle to fill open spots. The initial post read, “I firmly believe that no one in this community wants to work. I put up a post on several different pages have several job openings and not one person has applied. My friend that runs a fast-food place says that the only people that he’s getting in are 14 and 15-year-olds. I mean, what is this country coming to? I see ‘help wanted’ ads everywhere and nobody is filling out applications. It totally disgusts me.”
Want to guess what jobs those are? 90%+ pay less than $20/hr. The better paying ones are unique and require special licensing & training, or the circumstances of the job prevent you from living a normal life in a normal area. I will touch on this aspect again later; but first, let’s look at the replies from this post:
32 people commented in agreement and about how people are making more on unemployment than working a job, so this is no surprise. Several people were unhappy with this circumstance of people getting money for not working and, of course, there were several political comments about the issue.
“No one wants to work when they expect everything free. I’m with you! Crazy times!”
“People want to keep living off of unemployment, sad…”
“That's why local businesses will close eventually. I’m like, come on lazy people! So irritating - then they complain! It’s a no-win situation.”
One person commented, “And then we wonder why immigrants ‘take’ jobs - because they’re willing to work!!!!” Someone else replied to that by saying, “I have never wondered that. They have been taking jobs white people don't want for decades. We basically invited them here to do so, so good for them.” While this comment is kind of relatable to this topic, it could probably branch off into another interesting discussion for another time.
Here's another comment that can branch off to another interesting discussion: “The generations that came after my children (I'm 83) have been conditioned to expect the government to support them. They were the beginning of the ‘I want it all and I want it now’ mentality. It's a shame, but until the government of socialism is gone, it won't change; and in Oregon, it won't happen.” This comment is ripe for an attack by “OK, Boomer” people. There’s actually a lot of people that accuse this same 83-year-old boomer of being part of the actual beginning of the “I want it all and I want it now” mentality. Again, another topic for another time, but there were several comments that blamed government and socialism just as this other person as they wrote, “Some people are thinking, ‘why work when the government pays you?’ This is a very sad situation. I believe some people call it socialism.”
Now, as expected, here’s a response to the anti-socialism rhetoric:
“Sharon, we live in a very capitalist society that values rugged individualism and productivity over everything. We pay people miserable wages, make them work most of their time away at jobs they don’t like, and then wonder why they want to take advantage of some paid time off. I agree it’s a problem that comes down from the top, but we are by no means a socialist government. We are the wealthiest country in human history and yet most of our workers are forced to work multiple jobs just to stay afloat. How can you really blame anyone for wanting to stay home? If anything, I think the government didn’t give people enough assistance before this pandemic; and now that people are finally getting some extra help they don’t feel like they need to sell their souls to pay their monthly bills - which don’t get me started on how ridiculously high the cost of living is these days and how wages haven’t kept up. It’s a bad situation, but putting the blame on the big bad ‘reds’ is getting kind of old, don’t you think? It’s 2021 and humans are meant to support each other, not kick each other when they’re down. That’s my two cents.”
Continuing on, here’s a few more that caught my attention: “Agreed!!! Everyone says they can't find a job, but my kid sure found one quick!” Ok good on your kid, but what kind of job did they get? When people say they can’t get a job, I don’t think they usually mean there’s literally not a single place hiring at all or that they are completely unemployable. They are saying they can’t get the job they want and are qualified for. Of course people aren’t jumping straight to the minimum wage jobs. They’re holding out for the better ones.
“Too many freebies available at this time! We offer good wages, full-time work hours, benefits, AND a sign on bonus and still no applicants! No one wants to work when you get additional unemployment and stimulus checks and don’t have to pay your rent or fear eviction. It’s crazy!”
My response to this comment and a few others like it is that if the job pays the same or less than the unemployment of $300/week, than it’s not a good wage. Stop pretending like it is. Maybe it’s decent, above minimum wage, but it’s nothing to boast about. A good wage is one where you can live self-sufficient – not requiring another job for supplemental income, or several roommates, or government welfare assistance just to get by. I guess the theme for my thoughts on this whole situation, is that I don’t think most people are just being lazy and immoral. I know there’s probably several that are, but I think more people are just doing what’s in their best interest. This person said you won’t get any applicants by offering a good wage, full-time work hours, insurance, AND a sign on bonus? Is your “good wage” more than unemployment? What kind of job is this? Does it lead to better opportunities and career growth, or is it just another grunt job? Or is it very technically specific and requires special licensing and training? Is the insurance even good? I had an employer offer all the benefits, but they were so expensive that it was useless. It would’ve cost about a third or more of my paycheck! It was terrible insurance that hurt my family. We didn’t qualify for the more affordable government option simply because my employer offered insurance, so I had to opt out of the benefits and just go at-risk without insurance. Start looking internally and from the other side of the table because there’s probably a good reason people aren’t applying for this crappy job. I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong.
Here’s a morally superior person that said, “Because unemployment is paying an extra $300 a week. If I didn't work, I would be bringing home $400 more a week. I prefer to work. Lots of people would rather sit at home get paid for nothing.” Good for you I guess, but if I was laid off from the pandemic and qualified for the extra money I would take it as long as I could while applying to a new job; but I wouldn’t just work anywhere because of an “I prefer to work” attitude. There are always comments on this topic about how people should better themselves and have dignity by working. Realistically, are these crappy jobs really going to improve your life situation? Maybe, but probably not. Waiting around doing nothing until unemployment runs out is bad. I agree, but I do not blame people at all, for not just jumping into any mediocre job just because.
I would prefer to do what’s best for me and my family, which was to make the most money possible while applying for jobs that lead to a real career and higher salary long-term, not just settling for any job that leads nowhere and pays crap because of this “work pride.” I think a lot of other people do this too. I enjoyed time with my family at home while filling out applications and collecting good unemployment money instead of being away from my family at an unfulfilling job earning less than I would otherwise on unemployment. It’s unfortunate that this person makes so little that unemployment pays more than they make working, but I’m glad they take pride in being a productive member of society. As I mentioned before, a lot of people wish they were laid off to get the unemployment because they would’ve made more, but they couldn’t just quit or they’d be disqualified.
18 people commented on that community thread something in agreement with the original post, about their experience that their place of work is also experiencing difficulties in hiring or that they’ve seen hiring signs somewhere.
15 people made comments defending the unemployed staying at home as this situation should be no surprise. The following are some of the comments I found particularly interesting or entertaining:
Comment 1) “OMG. Do you know how many people were displaced and lost everything in the fires (our area suffered large property and business losses in the last year)? We are in a pandemic still?!! STFU.”
Comment 2) “Some people are still afraid to go out because they haven't been vaccinated yet.” This comment derailed into a political argument about the pandemic and government response.
Comment 3) “So now it's everyone else's fault that you're not making a decent enough offer to fill a position? How dare folks not want to work for you! How dare they think they want more money or better hours or better benefits! How dare they not be so desperate that they are forced to take a job you offer that they don't really want! Improve your offer and stop complaining about not finding employees, it's what smart employers do...try it.”
Comment 4) “Because they can live off the government during a pandemic. When they’re paid MORE for being at home, why would they? Believe it or not, most people will choose the higher income, whether it’s worked for or handed to them. People also need to survive! If they lost a job at $17/hr and get unemployment - they don’t want to leave home for a job paying less than that. Then while on unemployment, they’ll also get food stamps and free health insurance. Once unemployment runs out, they’ll have no choice but to actually take a job!”
Comment 5 Is a conversation between April and Tom. April first commented on this thread saying, “Probably because minimum wage isn't a living wage. I know people that have college degrees and get offered minimum wage. You can't survive on that.”
Tom replied to April’s comment, “So how are they surviving now? A college degree in women's studies isn't going to get you much of a job in the first place. We have far too many social justice warriors and not enough people who are willing to learn some actual skills. Craftspeople make a very good living these days.”
April responded, “A degree in women's studies may make finding a job in today's market harder, but I don't personally know anyone with that degree. I didn't say anything about ‘social warriors’ and am actually referring to people with ‘actual skills’ as you put it. I have a bachelor's in business and lost my job due to Covid last March. With the shutdown, it was very hard to find a job. However, with things opening up I found a job and now work for minimum wage, even though I have a degree. People are only making it by having roommates, living with parents, or couch surfing. People aren't as lazy as you want to make them out to be.”
Tom: “Now don’t take my comments personal and I’m glad you found something; and yes, a whole lot of people are as lazy as I make them out to be. I think that Debbie's post and a lot of comments will back up that observation. And yes, you didn't mention social justice warriors, but I did. I am a Valley Native now living in Santa Cruz and I can assure you that there are plenty of those types of degrees given here and plenty of them out raising hell in the streets thanks to the brainwashing they have been given by their professors at UCSC. Our homeless problem here is equally as bad as it is there so it isn't like I am speaking out of school. We have the same problems here.”
April: “How are people observing others being lazy? There are so many reasons people aren't working right now. Being lazy is low on that list.”
Tom: “It is really pretty easy once you have a few years under your belt and hone your observation skills along with some pertinent questions.”
April: “I understand that. I may look young, but I am almost 40. I just choose to not focus on the small amount of people who are abusing the system. That makes everyone who needs unemployment look bad. From reading some of these posts, it seems like a majority of people think poorly of people on unemployment or who cannot currently work. We are in weird times right now and I wish people were a bit more compassionate.”
Moving on from that side conversation, here’s Comment 6) “Have to disagree a bit as I and several in fam and peeps are working. Also know people who lost 70k jobs who are hoping to get back as economy opens back up and not wanting to take less at this point. Have been hiring for years and this is not all that much different.”
Comment 7) “Most places are hiring part-time. If you work part-time you can't afford medical insurance and you don't qualify for OHP, screwing people struggling to get by. Not to mention because employers hire part time, they don't have to offer health insurance.”
Comment 8) “Please don't assume the worst of people. Not saying you’re wrong, but I do know that many folks are finally going back to work at their original jobs! Add to that - parents who had to completely change their work lives because of school hour changes. Also - many workers stuck with their employers throughout the Covid time at extremely reduced hours because they hoped things would change soon. I lost all my work hours last March and started back last September to a loss of over $700 a month until now. I am a school bus driver. I could not accept another job because we never knew from week to week if we would be called back to work. I am glad I waited it out though. Things are looking up. I hope you find wonderful new employees!”
Comment 9) “I'm guessing maybe make the pay more lucrative for people to want to apply? I mean if they make more on unemployment than they do working a full-time job, why would they? That's more money and time. Why bust your butt for less money and less time? I'm glad I'm essential, but wow.”
Now here’s a great reply someone gave in frustration as a response to this comment. They said, “So as a business owner in an industry that is fighting to stay alive due to government shutdowns and mandatory maximum limits on customers allowed, your answer to pay more is - with all due respect, laughable. One simply cannot ‘pay more.’ Where will the money come from? Shall businesses cut the food quality? That will not bring customers in the door. Shall the owners of the business forgo a salary to pay the extra to the employee that doesn't really want the job? Think of it this way: with a maximum limit on patrons to 25% of my restaurant (meaning a 75% cut in my gross sales) I'm somehow supposed to come up with extra money to pay someone $16 to wash dishes?”
Here’s how I dissected this reply: “Shall the owners of the business forgo a salary to pay the extra to the employee that doesn't really want the job?” To a certain degree, yes. If you as the business owner are not willing to get your butt in there to do dishes yourself in order for your business to survive, then you are just an investor, and many people consider your hands-off approach as exploiting the employees’ value they create. Some business owners work hard in their businesses and it is their life’s work. Other owners treat their business only as an investment and try to have as little to do with it as possible, while extracting as much money out of it as possible. It’s not wrong to have the strategy necessarily, but I have far less sympathy for you if that’s how you treat your employees and your business operation. Nobody wants to wash your dishes because you pay crap and even you yourself aren’t willing to do it. If you want to be a business owner that is passionate about what you do and provide a great work environment and value for customers and employees, then you do what it takes to survive. If you want to just sit back and collect the profit that all the employees make for you, then just stick to investing in stocks, bonds, real estate, or whatever else. Additionally, why do you say, “the employee that doesn’t really want the job?” If you offer a good wage, decent benefits, and opportunity for growth then why wouldn’t somebody want the job? It sounds like you are confirming that the position is crap and complaining that nobody wants to do it. Think about that!
The second issue is that a 25% capacity does not necessarily equal a 75% reduction if you can still offer take out. Maybe this isn’t the case with this particular restaurant, but I wanted to point out that this math isn’t completely true. However, I do understand the strain that this capacity issue causes. It’s still going to be a reduction in sales for sure and I agree with the sentiment that it’s hard or impossible to have to drastically increase pay to bring people in. Plus, bringing on a new person at $16/hr or whatever would be unfair to everyone else currently at $13/hr or whatever. Pay for everyone would have to increase, which isn’t very realistic for some businesses. I get it and I agree with the concern, but to an extent as I already mentioned. Some of the things this person said just rubbed me the wrong way.
Going back now to the comments from people defending the unemployed staying at home because of this situation:
Comment 10) “To the people talking about free money: unemployment isn't ‘free,’ you pay into it with your taxes and you can't collect it unless you have paid in. I'm fortunate enough to be ‘essential,’ but if I wasn't I wouldn't be ashamed to collect from the safety net that I've paid into, while looking for a job that was actually worthwhile. Most of the places I've known that continually complain about not being able to find employees who want to stay with them either have a miserable work environment or non-competitive pay/hours/benefits. So of course a good employee is going to leap at the chance to leave for something better. That's just the free market at work.”
Comment 11 is similar: “Wow, some of y’all in the comments are delusional! You have no idea how unemployment insurance works. It’s NOT a government hand out. You ONLY get unemployment insurance IF you’re laid off. Not if you quit, nor if you get fired for some sort of misconduct; AND you only get a percentage (like 60%) of what your former salary was, and there is still a max amount limit. I was making $41k/year as a project coordinator for a health insurance company. I got laid off. 60% of my monthly pay would have been $2,000+, but because of the unemployment max at the time I only got $1,600/month from unemployment. It wasn’t my fault I got laid off. Do you think I wanted to lose my job to get less than what I was making?! But then you call people in my situation lazy because we don’t want to go work at some demeaning, minimum wage job flipping burgers? I’ll get off unemployment for a job making what I was making BEFORE I was laid off, thank you.”
I want to quickly respond to these two comments and say that in this situation with the government boosting unemployment payments, it’s most likely not funded by people previously paying into through tax deductions. The government is just pumping out money that wasn’t there before. It’s another thing people worry about with deficit government budgets and ballooning debt.
Comment 12) “I don’t know if it’s always a matter of ‘fair wage’ vs good career/professional job.”
THIS. This comment is what I would say about this subject as well and I’ll explain it later after sharing a few more comments first.
Comment 13) “I have a few friends who are unemployed parents. They’re choosing not to work because the school schedule makes that currently impossible.
For example: one family lives in Burbank, CA with two kids. In order to ‘keep teachers safe,’ the school is open for ONE hour per day. This is the case despite easy vaccine access for all adults, so if your job pays like $25-$35 an hour but a good nanny or daycare costs the same, what are you going to do?
I can’t speak for how this plays out across the whole country, but here in metro California public school restrictions have made it extremely difficult for many people to resume work. Until childcare is back at full capacity, people won’t be returning.”
This is an interesting take that I didn’t think about before. People not being able to drop kids off at school all day anymore is really affecting their ability to leave the home and go to work.
Now to wind this down, there were 4 people that commented about how it’s always been like this even before the pandemic. I agree with the people that say those that are really complaining are the owners or employees of businesses that provided either poor quality or uniquely technical jobs and they were always experiencing this hiring problem, but maybe I’m wrong.
“This is ridiculous.” The first comment said, “This was a problem LONG before the pandemic and unemployment benefits. There's been plenty of jobs in this valley for years. It has nothing to do with unemployment benefits.”
The second comment was interesting: “Apparently being drug free and having a license is an issue.” Now this is a statement that opened my mind to what business owners and managers experience. A problem I haven’t thought of before and it’s sad that it is a reality. This commenter is the owner of a lawn care business, so it’s just a general labor job that pretty much anybody could get if they want to do it and they have a need, but wow, I guess there’s too many people with drug problems and not having a license – which seems very strange to me to not have a license. That’s something I assumed almost everybody got, guess I am wrong.
A third commenter said a similar thing when replying to the original post about people being too lazy to work. They said, “Or, people can’t or won’t stop smoking weed to pass a drug test to get a job. I know marijuana is legal but there are jobs that will not hire you and insurance that still will not cover you.”
Comment 4) “Yeah it’s been hard to find help no doubt, and no one physically turns in a resume anymore. They just submit it online. Just seems lazy to me. It’s a shame... if you want something in life you have to work for it. No one seems to do that anymore.”
Hahaha! This is right on the money as an “OK, Boomer” comment. This person is still living in the past, old-fashion days where anyone that wanted a job could just show up to a place of business well dressed, ask to meet with the manager, look him in the eye with a smile and firm handshake and you’ll be hired for being so confident and ambitious. That’s not how things work anymore – at least in the overwhelming majority of places. Companies WANT you to go through their online application process. Have you ever gone through an online application process? They can be very time consuming and sometimes ask you to spend up to 20 minutes or so filling out a series of questionnaires or personality tests and things like that just for a chance to make it into the pile of applicants. Just seems lazy? You know what else is lazy? Sitting in your job for 40 years and never adapting to technological advancements in your field or in society as a whole. Why do so many of these people still barely know how to utilize email, pdfs, and websites? Just seems lazy to me. Sheesh.
So after this post and massive community involvement in the comments, a new job board was posted where all the people complaining about not being able to hire could post their job openings. Almost all of these jobs posted suck because of low pay and lack of career growth, or they are very specifically technical. Their huge list of jobs hiring everywhere is literally just restaurants, retail, sales, customer service, low-level maintenance/landscaping/handyman/general labor stuff, senior living care stuff, and random part-time stuff in administrative roles and call centers. None of these jobs can support a family or normal lifestyle. They are all jobs with low incomes that require living with roommates or only provide supplemental income while living with someone that provides a stronger income.
Here’s some comments from the board that I found interesting:
• One person posted: “Burger King is advertising $15/hr,” to which someone replied, “Yeah for a manager position. How many managers do you think they need?” Another person commented, “It says up to $15/hr. I managed a McDonald’s for 4 years and they didn’t want us giving more than a 50 cent raise after 2 years of employment with good attendance.”
• “Lowe’s as a company is kind of a train wreck so I’m not surprised there. We moved here last summer, and my partner and I had both spent several years (me 8, him 13) working at the Lowe’s in our previous city. It’s gone so downhill people weren’t applying at our old store either.” Response: “Wow, you both worked there for quite a while.- My son a few years back went for an interview, a nighttime stock kind of person, and the way the person who interviewed him put it, they basically said, in different words - it is an extremely hard, backbreaking job that you will hate, but if you still want to try, I guess let us know... crazy. So he said no way!”
I often hear people exclaim that there are lots of places hiring and are quick to assume unemployed people are just lazy degenerates because we see the hiring signs everywhere. What I don’t understand, is why these people don’t take a moment to think through the situation from the perspective of the unemployed. Why would qualified people with experience in certain industries just jump into any job just because they’re hiring? I see the “Help Wanted” signs everywhere too, but 1) I’m not qualified because the job requires specific licensing. I can't drive a truck and don't want to work in some machine shop or warehouse labor industry for example because that's not my skill set and career intentions. My second point is that a lot of the places hiring are either not very good jobs or a completely different career/industry. Working there would not serve them any favors because I’m looking for something else in my industry. It would limit my availability to attend interviews for the jobs I actually want. To me, it comes off as rude to just assume people should just take whatever's available no matter what the job or industry instead of being on unemployment and applying for jobs you are already qualified for and that are in your career path. I genuinely asked the question to someone saying lot's of places are hiring. I asked, "Are they good jobs though?" and all she responded was “$14 per hour.” Lady, that’s not a good job. If I was making $18 before and in a job that actually had career opportunity, not just a dead-end job that would stay at $14 forever.
In closing, I want to mention another topic of discussion here that has a relation to labor shortage problems - the housing affordability crises. There are several areas where the cost of housing, whether it be rents or mortgages, are so high that people working the service and labor jobs can’t afford to live near their work and moving out to more affordable suburbs isn’t an option anymore because the suburbs too are too expensive and/or the commute is simply not worth the extra time and money getting to and from work. Many businesses are struggling to stay open because they can’t staff them. The employees that should be there simply don’t exist because they can’t afford to live there. They’ve moved on. This is a problem especially in expensive tourist or resort destination towns, but I’m sure other places are starting to experience this. The average cost of a house/mortgage it too high for the median wage. It doesn’t make sense. Housing costs seem to be ballooning out of control, as well as everything else going up too. Inflation. Too much, too fast. Something’s gotta give.
Watch this PBS Newshour video released in April 2012 titled, "Why Job Seekers, Employers Aren't Connecting." The same principles still apply today.
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