Thursday, December 10, 2015

Shit Just Got Real: The Reality of Today’s Economy

 Today I applied for food stamps. Shit just got real, as the kids say.
On the plus side, the food stamp process has gotten a lot better since I first walked into an HRA office years ago and walked out without even filling out an application. (At the time I thought I’d rather starve to death than go through that degrading process. Fortunately, I got a job a few weeks later.) Ironically, the food stamp program has gotten better by getting rid of a lot of people who work for the food stamp program and replacing them with machines. (I’m sure Republicans would love that!)
I also emailed my entire LinkedIn network again, asking for information about job leads, for at least the sixth time in as many months. I would guess that at least 80% of my LinkedIn connections have never responded to one of my emails ever (not even to say “Stop emailing me!”). I don’t know if that’s because they don’t have any job leads or they’re just too embarrassed to refer someone to their company because they don’t like working there themselves.
Now I know that many (if not most) people consider LinkedIn a joke, but the only way I’ve found a job for the last 19 years has been through personal referral. And that’s the crucial point here: It’s virtually impossible to find a job nowadays without a personal referral.
That’s because it’s virtually impossible to convince a complete stranger to hire you, no matter how qualified you are or how well your job interview goes (assuming you’re lucky enough to even get a job interview). It seems like most HR people are more concerned with keeping the “wrong” people out than letting the “right” people in.
This is why I also just got rid of all the “recruiters” in my LinkedIn network. Because they’re absolutely useless. All they do is send you want ads and then send out your resume when you respond to them. I can do that myself, thank you very much, I don’t need your help.
I think we need to get real about the reality of today’s economy.
I keep reading in the news that the economy is doing great and that unemployment is at a new low. But what the news always fails to mention is that the reason the unemployment rate is at a new low is because people have given up looking for work and dropped out of the workforce.
The labor participation rate (the percentage of working-age people who are actually working, and what we should be measuring) is at an all-time low.
I’ve also noticed that a large percentage of the people in my network are “self-employed” (which we all know is a euphemism for unemployed) or “consultants.”
And a lot of the older workers with whom I started my career are now retired.
So let’s get real about the reality of today’s economy. It’s the only way we’re ever going to see any real improvement.

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