The Unemployment Lie

This may not seem like a religious post, but bear with me and I think I can tie it all together at the end.

According to government statistics the unemployment rate at the end of April was 8.1%  This compares to 7.9% in January, 2009.  You may recall that in February, 2009 the current administration passed the so-called Economic Stimulus Plan at a cost of a cool $787 BILLION.  That’s a lot of money that we didn’t have.  But, we were promised a dramatic decrease in unemployment as this money was pumped into “shovel ready” projects.  As it turns out, the economy has actually lost over a million jobs since the stimulus was enacted.

The sad part of all this is that the “official” numbers are a lie.  When you take into account the people who have stopped looking for a job the unemployment is much higher than 8.1%, possibly as much as 20 points higher.  Then there are the underemployed.  Stories of college degreed management types working at Wal Mart abound.  The former six-figure manager working for minimum wage with no benefits at Wally World is considered to be employed by the government.

When I was “retired” by my employer of almost thirty years, I didn’t apply for unemployment.  Therefor I was never officially “unemployed”.  I had no job, but that didn’t matter.  Eventually I took a job working for the Church.  I make about 10% of what I made at my peak.  That’s a lot of money that doesn’t get recycled back into the economy.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love my job andSocial Security and investment income are enough to live a good lifestyle.  But we’re talking jobs here, and from a purely economic standpoint, I’m very much underemployed.

Here’s another example, not of someone in his twilight years, but at the beginning of his career.  This young man is 33 years old and has a master’s degree.  His full-time job is in retail which he doesn’t like but which provides him with health insurance.  His other job, the one he went to college for six plus years to earn is as an adjunct professor at the university where he obtained his degree.  The key word there is adjunct.  An adjunct works part-time, for part-time wages, and has no benefits and no tenure.  Universities love adjuncts for just that reason.  They are much less expensive and can be let go at the school’s whim.

You may wonder why this young man doesn’t just get a full-time teaching position somewhere else.  The answer is that most universities today demand that full time faculty have a PhD.  Why?  One, it’s a good excuse to not give a full time job to people like our young friend.  Two, you government, you know, the one that can’t keep track of how many people are out of work, that government has programs for funding higher education that make it virtually impossible for most schools to hire full time professors who only have a Master’s Degree.

Oh, and did I mention that this young man has thousands of dollars in student loans that he can’t pay off because he can’t land a full time job.  It’s no wonder that so many young people give up and end up wasting their education and defaulting on their loans.  Society made them a promise.  You spend thousands of dollars on an education and we’ll make sure you have a job using the knowledge that you gain in college.  Now society(and the banks and the government) are demanding that they pay up even though the jobs never materialized.

Another example is a young woman, age 26, who also has a Master’s Degree.  She’s been out of school for over a year and is working as a waitress.  She’s also buried under a mountain of debt.  She probably has slightly better odds of getting a job in her chosen field.  Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on how you look at it) she makes decent money as a waitress which helps her pay her student loans.  When she’s offered a job in her chosen field, how easy will it be for her to give up her waitressing gig?  That remains to be seen.

I read an article just the other day that said students graduating in 2012 will actually be better off than their older counterparts.  See, this class started school after the recession started.  They may be better prepared for the economy that’s facing them after graduation, because they knew it was coming.  No one changed the rules on them like they did to our two young friends above.  They knew going in that they would need different skills to survive in this economy.

I said I’d tie this into religion.  Here goes.  Just this past Sunday Jesus told us in our Gospel that we must love one another as He loves us and that greater love has no man than to lay down his life for his friends.  There are thousands (millions?) of people in America that need our help.  If you’re in a position to hire, don’t look at these kids as just numbers.  They’re human beings and they’re the future of our country.

If you’re not in a position to hire anyone, then think carefully before you vote.  You may have a nice job but you never know when it might be jerked out from under you (I didn’t).  What we’re doing now isn’t working.  Study the issues and vote accordingly.

If you’re in academia, use your influence to encourage your school to stop taking advantage of the very people who borrowed thousands of dollars for your product.  They deserve better than a part time position with no benefits.  What’s happening today is a disgrace!

Last, but certainly not least, pray for our neighbors who are either unemployed or underemployed.  I can’t imagine how they go on facing rejection after rejection; disappointment after disappointment.  Pray that God gives them the strength and the perseverance to go on.  Pray that the people responsible for managing the economy will actually do their jobs, or pray that in November they may all be looking for jobs.

Our generation has made a real mess of things but with God’s help, we can right the ship and help our sons and daughters have the life we want them to have.

2 Responses

  1. And yet, the President has a campaign commercial touting his creation of over 4 million new jobs. Too bad there is not a “Truth in Advertising” Clause that covers political campaigns, then these type commercials could not possibly be run. We have lost, LOST over 8 million jobs in this nation in the last 31/2 years and those supposedly 4 million that were created are low paying retail or food service jobs.

    One only has to look at Detroit to see how the size of the city has been cut in half or do a Google search for used furnishings for Catholic Churches and find that Marble Altars can be had for $500 because so many have left the Rust Belt to find employment.

  2. I agree about the LIE… I know that unemployment is getting worse and not better. How many people are unemployed and never filed or have expired their benefits and are not counted as unemployed? The so called jobs being created are not at the same level as the ones that went away. I too spent 20 years in the automotive business. I’ve been looking for more than 200 years and have applied to over 400 jobs. I can honestly say that I’m not what of the people who got an automotive job and became dead wood. I continually added to my skills and saved my division millions of dollars. I can’t even find an underemployed job. It’s hard to account for 20 years of your life without listing your education and accomplishments. Nobody in their right mind wants to hire somebody who is overqualified.

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