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What percentage of people are 'unemployable'?

Discussion in 'Tilted Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' started by ASU2003, Jun 15, 2013.

  1. ASU2003

    ASU2003 Very Tilted

    Where ever I roam
    Is there such a thing? With ~7% of working America out of work (yes, there would be people who would work if the pay was good enough, or that just aren't counted) Is it discrimination or just good business practice? Maybe the person is a convicted felon of a serious crime or on the sex offenders database and any time HR runs their name for a background check, it comes up...

    I don't think this guy will ever get hired by a restaurant again.

    How about this guy? He is the reason that unions have a hard time helping the other workers with support from the public.
    Union president chows down and snoozes on the job - NYPOST.com

    What are her chances of having time for a normal job(outside of stripping)? I don't even want to think how much money it would take to raise 14 kids.

    I'm sure the list could go on and on. Yeah, there are plenty of jobs and not all of them need to be filled by college graduates, but still I think the job hunt for the hard to find job for group keeps a lot of good workers from venturing out there and trying to find a different job.

    We have a country of 330 million and only 120 million or so have jobs and 7.6% are currently unemployed. At the lowest it was around 2.5% back in 1953. That was before automation and computers did much of anything. I'm starting to wonder if the unemployment rate will ever drop below 5% or so if we start eliminating the need for humans to do the work or outsourcing it to foreign countries.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
  2. I think, in a lot of cases, someone's 'employability' comes down to the decisions they make about how they choose to live and how hard they choose to work.

    Before everyone jumps down my throat, yes things do happen and yes there are edge cases (like financially preparing for one child and being blessed with 2, 3, or even 8 instead). However, in a lot of situations, the choices that people make could 'make or break' their careers (like in the first picture, for instance). You choose to make stupid decisions, you choose to run the risk of becoming unemployed (or unemployable, as it were).

    Like in lots of other ways, life is what you choose to make of it.
  3. Baraka_Guru

    Baraka_Guru Möderätor Staff Member

    I think it's important to make the distinctions between types of unemployment:
    • cyclical: unemployment due to weak demand
    • structural: a mismatch between skills of the labour force and skills required for available jobs
    • frictional: when workers are searching for a job or are "in between" jobs
    I think many simply assume most unemployment is frictional. People lose their jobs in a recession, and so these newly unemployed are looking for a new one. Hence, they are unemployed only for the period of time that exists between losing their last job and finding their next one. Period. End of story.

    This isn't the whole story though. Much of the problem with high unemployment, in America at least, is that demand has been weak during this rather prolonged recovery. Companies aren't hiring very fast despite making profits. Many are sitting on wads of cash. Why aren't they hiring? They haven't seen high enough demand. Demand hasn't recovered very well in this recovery in large part because of high consumer debt.

    When you look at the frictional unemployment rate, many peg this at an estimate of around 4% of the overall unemployment rate. So this leaves 3.7% or whatever in other types of unemployment, whether cyclical or structural.

    The Problem With US Unemployment Is That It Is Now Like European Unemployment - Forbes

    Structural unemployment arises out of a skills mismatch. If jobs disappear in America and don't return, it can be a problem even if new jobs come along. Without retraining, the jobs can't be filled fast enough. This is a long-term challenge for the U.S., but I think it has been a big problem since the recent recession. How big? It depends on who you ask: http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R41785.pdf

    It's estimated that structural unemployment increases account for as much as a third of the 5% increase in overall unemployment rate between 2007 and 2010.

    What causes this? The long-term challenge I referred to is the transition of the American economy from an industrial economy to a post-industrial (service) economy. The American economy is no longer a manufacturing economy, and unfortunately too many of the new service jobs filled are in low-paying menial jobs. Where decent growth can occur, there aren't enough skilled workers to go around.

    I think America is dropping the ball. There isn't enough investment in retraining. There isn't enough investment in post-secondary education. If, say, 2% of the unemployed are unemployed because they have obsolete skills, then clearly something should be done. If another 1 to 2% of unemployment is due to weak demand, something can be done about that as well. In America's case, it's also a matter of "some things shouldn't be done," namely, austerity.

    But that's another story.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2013
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  4. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member

    In actuality, companies are just a bunch of Johns...while we workers are simply the "whores".
    Now...this is not to dismiss your skill, ability or integrity...but it is an extreme metaphor for what happens.

    If you're in an area with more than enough companies...you'll sooner or later find one that will take you on.

    The key is that finding a job is a volume game.
    You throw it out there, until it sticks.
    If you make yourself a commodity, then your odds increase.
    If you undermine or underestimate yourself, then you limit your odds. (many people fall into this trap...putting all their eggs into one basket)

    The key for you keeping that job is attitude.
    If you make them happy, for the most part...you keep it. (this is the opposite of pissin' them off...or inconveniencing them)
    If you make them/save them more money than you make...then you'll likely keep it.
    Companies and bosses are selfish. It's about them.

    The key for YOU to stay at the job...is if you like it and they treat you decent.
    If you don't or if they don't...sooner or later, you're going to quit...or you are going to do something that gets you out of there. (even subconsciously)

    Now...if you do something wrong or by mistake, if you're in an area with a many companies, you'll get something.
    Sooner or later, there's going to be a company that's in need.
    So make sure you interview well...or at least don't interview badly...because sometimes they just need a body.

    However, the ones that are in need...are often those that are dysfunctional.
    So one bad attitude feeds off another.

    Now, if you are in an area with limited prospects...then you may want move to a higher volume area.
    Yes, I know this is inconvenient...but so is not having a job, or the chance of one.

    People are "unemployable" because they are selfish and/or angry.
    Now, if you're an asshole...there are places and uses for assholes...you just have to be a commodity to the company and your boss.
    It is all about the company's needs.
    And underneath that, your boss's.

    People who are "unemployable" are their own executioners.
    Because if you're a commodity and convenient...the Johns will keep coming back.
  5. fflowley

    fflowley Don't just do something, stand there! Donor

    I can't put a number to it but I regularly meet people who are completely unemployable.
    They lack fundamental skills in reading and writing, and don't have the personal discipline to function in a workplace no matter how rough the setting.
    These same folks typically don't have access to reliable transportation.
    And they're generally not falling far from the tree.
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  6. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    A lot of people who are "unemployable" in one field can find work in another.
    The unemployment rate of 1953 cannot be compared to today's unemployment rate because at that time few to no women were included in that count. It's hardly an accurate count when half the adult population is left entirely out of the process.
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  7. amonkie

    amonkie Very Tilted

    Windy City
    I really take Baraka's perspective on this, but have some of my own experiences:

    I used to work in Rochester NY and saw directly the impact of a disappearing sector and the attempt to replace with a different one. I was responsible to help provide employment assistance to former Kodak workers who were transitioning to trucking as a new industry. The pay levels between the two were so far apart, especially because you have someone going from highly experienced in one field to bottom of the rung at the other. People were understandably resistant.
  8. snowy

    snowy so kawaii Staff Member

    Part of the problem we face is that the United States is stuck in this mindset that labor markets always clear--that there are enough jobs for everyone, or there could be enough jobs for everyone, if only our economy would pick up. There aren't, nor will there ever be. Sure, we could argue that the United States is geographically huge and therefore, if only people were willing to relocate, there would be enough jobs for everyone. Right, but who is going to move from Portland to Phoenix to work for minimum wage at Target?

    We need to come to terms with the fact that there is always going to be some poverty. Even if we retrain workers, we're just changing the faces of who is in poverty so long as there is no minimum standard of living provided by the government, because as others have said, some people are unemployable in our current economy. Even the government has bought into this idea that if only people worked harder, there would be enough jobs for everyone with their introduction of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). People are only entitled to 60 months of lifetime benefits. Sure, if they're actually disabled, they'll qualify for Social Security, but that is also very little money.

    One thing to consider is that providing a minimum standard of living for everyone is also a great government stimulus. People at the lower end of the income spectrum tend to spend more and save less; therefore, any money we put into their hands will be spent. Spending=consumption, which is really essential right now.
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  9. Lindy

    Lindy Moderator Staff Member

    It was also before China, India, Germany, Japan, etc. "did much of anything." It was before there were ten million (presumably working at jobs) undocumented illegal immigrants in the USA. In 1953 nearly eight million worked in agriculture (out of 160 million) versus less than 1 million (out of 315 million) now.

    And those "trees" always seem to drop plenty of fruit.

    Or is it like the parking dillema in urban centers. Is the problem a shortage of parking spaces, or allowing too many cars into the city? People can always produce more people faster than business (or even government) can produce more jobs.

    We can go from "I think, therefore I am" to "I exist, therefore I deserve."

    But spent on what? Lower income people tend to buy lots of Chinese made televisions, appliances, and other low price (think Wal-Mart) consumer goods, low priced imported clothing, etc. Poverty may indeed be reduced, but that kind of spending doesn't provide much of a multiplier in the US economy, or create good jobs in the USA. We don't really need more Best Buy and Wal-Mart jobs, or stuffing boxes at Amazon.com.
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  10. Derwood

    Derwood Slightly Tilted

    Columbus, OH
    My sister-in-law (barely made it out of high school, learning disabilities, very immature for a 20 year old) recently got a 3rd shift job unloading trucks at a grocery store. At her interview, they were thrilled that she could pass a drug test and didn't have a police record. That was their basic criteria for the job.

    That said, it's apparently very hard for people to make it out of high school without a rap sheet and a drug history
  11. Street Pattern

    Street Pattern Very Tilted

    For some people, being "unemployable" has nothing to do with skills or attitude. Employers are considerably more "picky" than they economically need to be; an economist won a Nobel Prize for demonstrating this.

    And these "picky" standards are becoming inexorably stricter.

    If you have a facial tic, a missing limb, a mental illness history, a criminal record, an untreatable skin condition, etc., etc., regardless how outstanding your qualifications may be, and regardless how irrelevant these defects are to the actual job, you will be passed over in favor of people without those issues.

    If your teeth look horrible, but you are very far from having the resources to fix them, your chances of getting a job to accumulate those resources are small.

    (As I have written elsewhere, I personally have inherited very bad teeth, which decay notwithstanding diligent brushing and flossing. Every one of my teeth has been filled or root-canaled and crowned. A dentist once told me that my mouth looked like a flashback to the days before fluoridation. I shudder to think what I would look like if I couldn't afford the necessary dental work.)

    The Village Voice once ran a long article about a young lawyer with outstanding credentials. He was a paraplegic and used a wheelchair. When he graduated from Columbia University Law School, he got a standing ovation from his fellow students.

    His Columbia classmates quickly found high-paying jobs with law firms, but he didn't. His credentials always got him an interview, but when he showed up, all they could see was his wheelchair.

    This was long before the ADA, but I doubt that would have helped much. Can you blame him for rejecting busy-work in a sheltered workshop for barely over minimum wage?

    These are not rare or exceptional cases. Millions of Americans are afflicted with "unaesthetic" conditions, or are less than presentable due to anxiety or depression. Millions more otherwise employable folks have criminal records that seem to permanently disqualify them from jobs above the level of ditch digger. And all those folks together are outnumbered by the vast category of Americans with histories of mental illness or drug abuse.

    All these people I've mentioned are drifting out of the labor force over time -- that's why U.S. labor force participation among men is hitting new lows every year. It's a colossal waste of energy and talent.


    But there is one major employer which is a peculiar and wonderful exception to all of this invidious discrimination.

    This is an organization which systematically lures underrated people back into the labor force, and hires them despite flaws in their aesthetics or background.

    This approach has been a tremendous success, bringing in thousands of talented people, much more cheaply than competitors do.

    Can you guess what employer that is?
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2014
  12. rogue49

    rogue49 Tech Kung Fu Artist Staff Member

    My cynic side of me says this.
    You're only unemployable when you don't try for it...and you aren't able to convince some company that you able to do the job.

    In the same frame of there's a sucker born every minute...there's a company out there that will hire you.
    Just like many Americans...they don't watch every second of news...or do research everytime.

    That same kid who licked the tacos...if he chose, could get hired again by another restaurant within the week.
    The company's ignorance is your benefit...just like their need is your benefit. (including how much they pay you...)

    You think that every person who has a degree is competent? ethical? hasn't been fired?

    How do you think so many bad managers get in place???

    So, here's your chance to be reborn.
    You fucked up...then put yourself out there again.
    But do me a favor...please don't fuck up again.

    And the people who are "unemployable" because of their looks, record, etc...at least have another out these days. The web.
    Start your own business...make your skills available to the invisible masses. (as you are invisible too)
    Your innovation can be your income.

    That's one thing I always believed in...think outside the box.
    Make yourself a commodity within the market.
    Not what you want...but what people are willing to pay for...where there is a need.
    Move yourself to where the money is.

    And I tell my own mother this...and she's just as stubborn/anxious about her prospects. (and she's "retired" but wants to work a bit...)
    People don't care how hard you work. They only care about what they want/need/believe.
    Make your money from this.

    I found this out for myself. I didn't get it from my dream job...art or science. (Architect?? Nope, nada - Link)
    I got it where people paid me money...computers. This isn't my first love...it still isn't. But I have a knack...and a paycheck.
    And I went to where there was work...not in the location where there wasn't. Me starving didn't change this truth.
    Why do you think people go to cities??? (and not all cities are the same...)

    Most are employable...except those who are mentally impaired. But that's another story.

    Now...I don't mind people who get unemployment...I completely understand that. I've used it myself.
    But after a certain time...you've got to get some counseling. Assistance to make it for yourself.
    I had a friend who had a bad stutter...his job market is very difficult. But we made him more marketable. He's now in a good position.
    But it took a TON of work. Lots of humbling situations.

    Hell, if Monica Lewinsky can get a job still...after her face has been plastered all over the news 24/7/365 for years
    ...for a blowjob. (worse than a friggin' pornstar or murderer)
    She went to London...to escape her infamy. And remake her life.
    Then others can too.

    Life is not fair AT ALL. It's up to you to escape being eaten by the big fishes, survive, find food.
    Get help. No shame in that, none at all.
    But be willing to be flexible...find your market.

    So in the end, I believe there is a very small percent that are unemployable.
    But unlike many conservatives...I also believe in helping people. (and not leaving them hanging)
    Last edited: Feb 15, 2014
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