Ali’s blog

Mostly quant stuff with occasional digressions

Unemployment among the Credentialed

Posted by alifinmath on January 25, 2009

First of all, let me say that the official unemployment stats are a complete crock. As Paul Craig Roberts points out in some recent article of his, if we were measuring unemployment by the 1980 criteria, we’d be at 17.5% unemployment (or more) today. The unemployment stats are just as bogus as the inflation stats.

In the recession of the early ’80s, we saw unemployment among the middle- and upper-middle-classes for the first time. Since that time, the problem has never gone away – it’s just been deftly brushed under the rug. There’s been a hemorrhage of skilled well-paying jobs in the USA across the board for decades. This problem has just got acutely worse in the last year or so.

My eye was caught by an article in today’s New York Times:

“A job loss in America is, psychologically, a real big hit,” said Cathy-Ann Romero, 53, another co-leader, who lost her job as a human resources manager 10 months ago.

Ms. Romero, who holds two master’s degrees, recently applied for a part-time job as a packer on the overnight shift at an online grocery store to help make ends meet.

These are the grim realities of life in the United States today. Joining support groups is not going to change the fact that there are few (if any) jobs going and a huge number of potential applicants, each of whom is desperate. Yet because of the cult of individualism prevailing in the US, people are programmed neither to look for nor criticise systemic faults in society and economy but to play, instead, the make-believe game that they are “the masters of their soul and the captains of their destiny.”

The problem, she said, is that she was one of some 300 people applying for 15 jobs on the graveyard shift. So group members brainstormed ways she could gain some advantage.

I remember reading a couple of years ago how something like 15,000 people applied for 300 jobs — at Walmart. The jobs are simply not there.

It’s not that things are much better in Europe (where I’m now based). But people here are not so stupid as to think there are individual solutions to collective problems. Hence the sustained rioting in Greece; hence the demonstrations in Latvia and Lithuania; and hence also the rioting in Iceland.

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