1sunfight’s Weblog

March 6, 2010

It is Easier to Find a Job When You Have One

That is how that expression goes.  I have wondered over the years if there is any truth to it.  The year before I graduated from college I started looking for a job.  It took me a long time to find one and I had a job, but it was the end of a recession,  I was delivering pizza, and switching careers, so that put me to the back of the line for any kind of professional job, even with a business degree.  I got my first professional sales job five months after I graduated.   That job did not last and my next professional job did not come along for 18 months.  In the mean time, I returned to delivering pizza.  In January of 2009 I lost my second professional job and it is now 13 months later and there is not a job in sight.  Frustration abounds.

I do have a friend who is a recruiter for the state of Georgia, the last time I saw him he looked me dead in the eye and told me, “It is easier to find a job when you have one.  It is why I send you job descriptions for open positions, like receptionist.  Employers are more likely to hire someone who has a job than someone who does not.  If you have not worked in a while you lose that discipline that comes with working.”  Okay, I understand what he meant; at least he did not call me stupid.  He has kept a casual eye open for jobs that he thinks I may qualify for, but not quite as much as he has this week.  He has me looking at jobs from downtown Atlanta, into the foothills of the Appalachians, with only a month left of unemployment benefits I went along with it.  Thankfully, Senator Jim Bunning caved on his opposition to extending unemployment benefits, so I got an additional month to look for a job.  Oh, boy!

This afternoon as I was reading the local newspaper I came across an article about the current state of unemployment.  The article started out with a warning.  “This column is not for the faint of heart.”  I took that as challenge.  The guy rattled off some facts about national and state unemployment, figures I can recite in my sleep.  9.7% for the nation and holding, while the state is at 10.4%; add in the under-employed and the discouraged, the unemployment rate spikes to 16.9%.  Those are depressing numbers, the likes of which we have not seen since Ronald Reagan was president.  I think I have a better chance of getting into Harvard than I have of getting a job.

The article went on and included the phrase, “It is easier to find a job when you have one.”  The writer elaborated a little.  The average time a person is out of work is 30 weeks in Georgia, or eight months.  (Personally I would like to know the median.  I meet some people who find jobs quickly and others who have not. Unfortunately, I am in the latter group.)  He went on to write that employers prefer to hire people who are already working.  I somewhat disagree after a few job interviews I have been on.  I think employers want the recently unemployed people who can start work right away.  The rest of the article then turned into his warning.  He started looking at the real effects of the number of unemployed versus the real amount of jobs getting created and projected for job creation.  In a nutshell, the state of Georgia is looking at putting the 794,000 unemployed back to work by 2020.  That is sobering.  He then took the point of view of “permanent unemployment,” mostly male, would become a norm instead of deviant standard for society.  (This current recession is supposed to be impacting males in greater numbers than women.)  The writer concluded that not only current unemployed males will be disproportionately affected by this recession, but males entering into the workforce over the next decade; writing those boys when never grow into men, if one can at least define male identities by work.   What a horrible legacy for not just a generation, but for a nation.  However, it made me think of another lost generation.

The summation of the article did remind me of Reagan’s recession when people were writing about how the younger Baby Boomers missed out on the economic prosperity the older Boomers experienced, how there is (was) a widening gulf between either end of the generation and how younger Boomers were facing disenfranchisement.   Given that I am a younger Boomer, they were talking about me, and, yes, it did take me longer to start to prosper than my older counterparts, even my brother and sister who are not all that much older than me.  (My brother became an industrial engineer without going to college.  He claims he hit the workforce just as the computer era took off.  He says he feels very fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time.  My sister got on with a business during high school and climbed the corporate ladder over the 30 years she has been there.  I have not been that fortunate.)  However, during the 80’s, under Ronald Reagan, the Christian Right did flourish and fed the wounded males low self esteem.  Women became their whipping post for their inability to thrive, like their older male Baby Boomer counterparts did.  I recall by the end of Reagan’s eight years of high unemployment groups like Operation Rescue headed by Terry Randall, or the Lambs of Christ came into being, both heavily male right wing Christian groups opposed to abortion and wanting to return America back to her “family values” (i.e. woman at home with children and subordinate to the husband. These groups were also the first careers where leaders, like Terry Randall made real money.  He got on talk shows, etc. and made a lot money until the IRS came along.  He was a tax resister.)  Groups like these spawned murderers who started hunting healthcare providers who performed abortions.  Of course, they liked to stalk women who had abortions and make their lives miserable too.  This was one lost generation.  So, the writer made me think, with a rise in groups like the Tea Party, could we be facing more of the same or similar?  Another lost generation of disenfranchised men taken over by the right wing and exploited, like then?  Sustained high unemployment is a recipe for the worst of society to rise to the top.  It has happened all over history.  Too much time on your hands.

For me, and others like me, “It is easier to find a job when you have one,” but what about those who never got one to begin with?

Thomas Oliver:  Joblessness Creates Long Term Problems

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