MAR Fri, Apr 7:+98,000 jobs. Unemployment down to 4.5%...MAR details coming.. Jobs since Trump took office?... Unemp. rate under Trump? (not yet updated)

Monday, February 28, 2011

Tea baggers, Wall Street, and Cookies



"A union worker, a member of the tea party, and a CEO are sitting at a table. In the middle of the table there is a plate with a dozen cookies on it. The CEO reaches across the table, takes 11 cookies,  looks at the tea partier and says,"Watch out for that union guy; he wants that last cookie." 




It would be really funny if it weren't so sadly appropriate.  This quote, which I found on Huffington Post, was attributed to someone named Drew Miller.


Update 4/25/2012:  Just added this picture

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Milwaukee Teacher Salaries: 100 grand?

The Wall Street Journal is floating a story that teachers in Milwaukee, WI, make $100,000 year on average if you consider their benefits as well as their salary.

Being a fact-finder, I went to a site that displays the salary of every public school employee in the state of Wisconsin. I pulled a few random samples of teachers in Milwaukee.

Well,

Friday, February 25, 2011

FDR, Public Unions, and the Right-Wing

Beware of right-wingers bearing quotes!

Here's the background:  

There is a quote from FDR that has been making the rounds of right-wing blogs over the past two weeks.  As you can see from the quote below, those of the right-wing bent believe that FDR himself did not believe in public unions.
I was involved in a conversation on the Wisconsin situation ( "What Governor Walker Won't Tell You"  ) at Huffington Post.  Member Rashnak replied to a comment that I made in defense of unions:
"You are correct that unions led to a lot of great laws. But since the time of sweatshop­s and child labor is over, the time for public unions is also over, if it ever existed." 
He then quoted:  

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

More than 99 weeks of unemployment compensation?

Are there more than 99 weeks of unemployment available?


No.  Not in the United States.  And in many states, the available number of benefit weeks is less than ninety-nine.  It depends on the state unemployment rate and specific state laws.  The number of unemployment weeks changes fairly frequently.  CNN has a map on their site, but it is not up-to-date.   This page at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities appears to have accurate, up-to-date data on the number of weeks available in the various states..


Answers to comments and questions that I've heard repeated over and over: 


When does the 99 weeks stop?


Right now, it appears that people who are on a "tier" at the end of December 2011 will finish out that tier and that will be that for the federal tiers.  People should be able to get EB (Extended State Benefits) if they live in states that qualify.  State EB benefits are usually an additional 13 to 20 weeks. 


Why should the government keep paying people who are out of work for 99 weeks?


Bottom line:  Because there are not enough jobs, and people who are among the long-term unemployed will be the last to be hired back as the unemployment rate goes down.


The 99ers are too picky.  Anybody who wants to work can get a job in two years.


See   Just Take Any Job!  .  Only people who have been out of work for an extended period of time should make comments like this.  If you haven't been looking for work in this economy, you need to consider yourself very lucky and keep your mouth shut.




We are encouraging these people to stay on the government dole.  Studies have shown that the longer people get unemployment compensation, the longer they stay unemployed.

Friday, February 18, 2011

On Wisconsin!

Wisconsin is our neighbor state around here, and "weekend getaways" (when we used to take weekend getaways) often meant jumping on the Tollway and crossing the border into Wisconsin. I've probably traveled more throughout Wisconsin over my lifetime than I have traveled throughout Illinois. Rivalry between the Chicago Bears and the Green Bay Packers aside, I love Wisconsin; let me make that perfectly clear.

I'm closely following the happenings in Wisconsin these days. The new Republican governor is trying to break the public unions.

He says it is necessary to break the unions to fix a budget shortfall. How does ending collective bargaining fix a budget shortfall? Of course, accompanying the end of collective bargaining would be cuts in benefits for public workers, but these really are two separate issues, aren't they?

Here's an article at Talking Points Memo that discusses the Wisconsin budget crisis.. important reading for anyone who is following this issue.

The Republicans are not a bunch of dumb bunnies. They know people are hurting, and they are following the right-wing bagger-think playbook of villainizing government workers, in particular, unionized government workers. Government workers these days can actually pay their mortgages, put food on the tables, and they still have health care coverage. The Repubs know that they are then good targets for those who are struggling and can't do these things. They know that there are people out there who want public workers to be as miserable as they are.

They know that unions, in particular, public worker unions have been villainized for years by many segments of the population who believe that government workers are lazy and useless, including the nation's teachers. I've had mixed feelings about teachers' unions, but I also remember days when teachers made 7 grand a year, and that was considered progress!

The Republicans want to divide and conquer the population: Let's get the "taxpayers" on our side by blaming government workers whom "we" support. The big problem in budgets these days isn't really spending, it's revenue. Tax cuts for the wealthiest (a big issue in the Wisconsin mess), high unemployment with people not contributing to the nation's and states' coffers, and loopholes for various corporations have combined to make a mess for the states. Instead of the "taxpayers" being angry at the wealthiest among us and the big corporations who pay little or nothing, the "taxpayers" will be angry at the government unions. The union employees, however, are just middle class people like all of the rest of us, and they are getting squeezed like all of the rest of us.

But better to get people angry at a teacher making $60,000 grand a year instead of a hedge fund manager making billions a year, right?

Thursday, February 17, 2011

How I Learned to Love the Unions

What would the 50's and 60's have been like without the unions?

Found at IAM's site
"Love" is probably a strong word as I do have some complaints about unions.  However, I have developed a newly-found appreciation for them as I watch the attempts to strip them of authority and power.

My Dad, Union Man

My Dad was a bright guy, but he came from a dirt poor family and never finished high school. The house he lived in as a kid was still standing when we were little, and we couldn't believe that Dad had lived in a ...shack.  

Dad struggled as an adolescent in the late 30's, taking odd jobs, and trying to get enough cash together to take a few courses in car or truck repair. He went into WWII, married my Mom, got out of the service, worked this job and that, and eventually got a solid job, a union job, in the mid 50's. 

He stayed there for 33 years. He got a few patents while he worked for his telephone manufacturer employer; he was bright and worked closely with the engineers and earned their respect over and over again even though he lacked formal education.

During those 33 years, he and my mom raised two kids, bought a house, paid it off, bought an apartment building for rental income and paid that off. They helped to put their two kids through college, though state universities were not very expensive back then. (Working class kids could actually go through the state university system and not graduate owing tens of thousands of dollars.)  My parents accumulated capital, helped their kids out, enjoyed their grandkids, lived a comfortable, though not ostentatious, life, and enjoyed a dignified retirement..

Now, my dad was bright. The anti-union people would say that he didn't need the union, and maybe the union held him back. I don't think that was true. He was not educated, though degrees weren't as important back then as they are now, and he was kind of a quiet guy. I don't think he would have come across well in interviews. He worked his tail off for those 33 years, rarely took a day off. Because he was in a union, nobody laid him off from his company when he was in his 50's or 60's, which is what companies without unions can easily do these days.  (Ask my husband about that.)

His company eventually shut down the plant that he worked in, as they shipped their functions to cheaper labor places in the south and booming southwest. The company needed to be "competitive" of course, and all of those highly-paid union guys, you know the ones who actually made enough money to feed their families, buy homes, and send their kids off to school, were not making the company "competitive" enough.  But my Dad had retired by that time.

For all of those people, mostly men, who were able to provide a much better life for their families in the 50's, 60's, and 70's than their parents could have ever imagined, the unions were a very good thing.

The problem isn't the unions; it is that there aren't enough of them.. all over the world.

Yes, there are some corrupt union officials who just take money from the union members. But aren't the people who are really taking money from the working people these days the CEO's who get more in bonuses  every time a person is let go or every time a job is off-shored? And the hedge fund managers and banksters who have turned our financial system into a casino often on the backs of the middle and working classes?

Organized labor wouldn't be a necessity if corporations treated their employees as valued participants in the products they are producing... instead of as buckets on a spreadsheet somewhere. Too many people have forgotten why unions started and gained strength.  It's not that the pie isn't big enough; it's that some people are getting really, really big pieces.... and others are getting crumbs.

Perhaps the unions can re-invigorate themselves by helping people fight for a bigger piece of pie.

Counting the Unemployed: 30,000,000 plus

I've spent a lot of time the last few weeks poring through the monthly employment statistics.

I've come up with a figure of 30,000,000 unemployed, about 20% of the "active and passive" work force.

I hope to get my info up here in the next day or two, so keep checking back.

Ah.. Thursday morning. Unemployment numbers. I always get excited on Thursday mornings.

Night all. See you tomorrow!

47% of the People Pay No Taxes!

An Update for Tax Day:


Check out my update to this article:  45% of Households Pay No Taxes.

Updated 9/18/2012:  Republican Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney speaks with derision and disdain about the "47%" who supposedly pay no taxes.  Commentary HERE.



____________________________________________________________


This is one of the constant rallying cries of those of the right-wing.

Many appear to be incensed that they pay taxes and so many of their fellow Americans do not.

I've often ansewred these kinds of whines with a comment on the order of: "Be glad that you have the income to pay taxes." Or:  "I would gladly pay the taxes that you whine about if only I could also have your income."

Now, I'm not a fool. I have close friends who make a lot of money...not millions, but low to mid 6 figure money. They pay a lot of taxes. But they live a very, very good life. They have big homes, vacation homes, a boat, new cars, weekend trips frequently; you get the picture. They are not hurting, taxes or not.

But I just read the best answer to the "Working class and poor people don't pay any taxes" complaint.  Here's the specific comment:

"HELLO!

THE POOR PAY NO FEDERAL TAX
47% of Ameican househods pay NO federal tax
PLEASE!"
To which my friend at Huffington Post, "APMOTRBC", replied:
And that should horrify you . . . that 47% of your fellow Americans are being paid so poorly by the businesses for which they work they don't make enough to sustain themselves as well as contribute financiall­y to the common good.
I'm going to say this slowly because it seems that conservati­ves can't grasp the concept. THE REASON THAT 47% OF ALL AMERICANS DON'T PAY FEDERAL INCOME TAXES is that they don't make enough income to PAY IT.
They don't have the money. The reason the rich pay the income tax is because they have the WEALTH.

You do know that the bottom 50% of the country holds only 7% of the assets/wea­lth, while the top 10% controls 83%......

You don't just want your share . . you believe you are entitled to everyone else's share too.”

Thanks, APMO!

Paid Trolls?

Yes, Virginia, there are paid trolls. There are people who are paid to populate the "blogosphere" with negative, nasty right-wing posts.

I'm not going to provide the link, but you can Google if you wish and find them. There's a company out there called "Advantage" something or other. They make money hiring trolls. Their website says:

"Get ahead of your opponent with Profession­al Blog Warriors. Be prepared to "flood the zone" with comments from profession­als who are ready to put your talking points on the blogospher­e 24./7."

There is absolutely no way to ferret these people out by using their IP addresses as they are working from their own homes. But you can usually tell if you look through the history of their posts. They post a lot, and often they seem to "log in" and "log out" on the hour or half hour.

If someone calls them out, they will just rejoin with a different name.

Nobody would take such a job unless they were of bagger-thi­nker ilk anyway.

And, if someone is as heartless as many right-wingers who post at Huffington, Newsvine, and other blogs, I'm very glad that they aren't "wasting taxpayer money" collecting unemployme­nt insurance. However, I do hope they are paid as independen­t contractor­s so, when they are dumped, they don't get a dime in umemployme­nt benefits.

P.S.:  I just heard of a few good articles on the phenomenon known as "astroturfing".. I will find the links and post back.

How the Unemployment Rate is Calculated

People who have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits; that is, people who no longer receive unemployment benefits (people previously referred to as the "99ers"),  ARE counted as unemployed if they are STILL LOOKING FOR WORK.

Was there a change in the way the unemployment rate was calculated under Obama?  Has the way unemployment is calculated changed?    Read below.... 

 
As of January 2014.  More details HERE.

Repeat after me: People who have exhausted all of their unemployment benefits are counted as unemployed if they are still actively looking for work (within the past four weeks).  This is the biggest myth about the unemployment rate that is out there. 

Repeat after me:  People who have just entered or re-entered the labor force are counted among the unemployed as long as they have actively looked for work within the last four weeks.


Repeat after me:  People who have NEVER been eligible or collected unemployment are considered unemployed if they are actively looking for work (within the past four weeks).  

Repeat after me:  People who are self-employed or people who are/were 1099 contractors ARE considered as unemployed if they are actively looking for work (within the past four weeks).



There have been NO changes in the way that the unemployment rate has been defined or calculated for decades.  Despite what you might have read in the right-wing media, President Obama has made NO changes in the way the unemployment rate has been calculated.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics, which calculates the unemployment rate and puts out the Jobs Report, is a non-partisan agency that was actually headed by a Republican appointee until 2013. 
 


Repeat after me:  The last time that any changes were made to the way the regular official unemployment rate was defined or calculated was 1994, and those changes resulted in an increase in the unemployment rate compared to the prior method.  (Read towards the bottom of the page for more info about this.)

For those who are not familiar with the term,  "the 99ers" referred to people who were laid off in the Great Recession, who had maxed out their unemployment benefits, and who still had not been able to find work.  The 99 weeks was the maximum number of weeks of unemployment available in most states through 2011.  It included 26 weeks of regular state benefits, four tiers of federal Emergency Unemployment Compensation totaling up to 53 weeks, and up to 20 weeks of Extended Benefits   In some states and in some situations, people maxed out their unemployment benefits before 99 weeks. 
Update 12/28/2011:  A two-month extension of federal unemployment extended benefits was signed just before Christmas.  However, this extension will begin to reduce the total benefit weeks available to unemployed Americans to 79, depending on the state in which they reside, and depending on exactly when they became unemployed.  The Republicans in the House are attempting to reduce the maximum number of benefit weeks even further, down to 59.
Update 2/20/2012:  A compromise to extend unemployment insurance throughout 2012 was passed by both houses of Congress on February 17, 2012.  The deal is rather complicated in terms of weeks of unemployment extensions that will be available.  More details and a chart of available weeks of unemployment insurance can be found HERE.
Update April 2013:  The unemployment extensions which were passed in early 2012 and which are discussed above were extended through December 2013.  This does not mean that there are ADDITIONAL weeks of unemployment insurance available, but it means that people newly unemployed in 2103 will be able to get the same number of weeks of unemployment insurance as people who became unemployed in late 2011 or 2012.  The maximum number of weeks of unemployment insurance now available in the various states varies from 40 weeks in 14 states or territories up to 73 weeks in 7 states or territories.  86 weeks is available only in Alaska.  More details and a chart of available weeks of unemployment insurance can be found HERE.   
Update February 2014:  The unemployment extensions which were passed in early 2012 and were extended through December 2013 have expired.  As of February 10, 2014, no states has any extended benefits, either federal or state.  Another attempt to extend these benefits failed in the Senate this past week.  It is unclear if the Congress will again try to extend these benefits. More details and a chart of available weeks of unemployment insurance can be found HERE. 

Update January 2015:  No unemployment extension was worked out with the Republicans.  As a result, there are only 26 weeks of unemployment insurance available.  

Now, let's see if we can answer a few other common questions about the way the government counts the employed/unemployed and jobs....


Q.  How is the unemployment rate calculated?


Let's look at a couple of definitions:

The Current Population Survey:  This is a monthly survey of 60,000 households, about 110,000 people, that is used to calculated unemployment rates, labor and employment participation rates.

Basically, the "base" of the labor market is the civilian non-institutional population age 16+, that is, everybody 16 or over who is NOT in the military and NOT in an institution, such as prison or a nursing home.

The civilian labor force is anyone in the "civilian non-institutional population age 16+" (as defined above) who is either working or who has been actively looking for work in the past four weeks.  This includes students age 16 plus who are working part-time by choice, people who are working part-time but want full-time jobs, people who are retired but want part-time work, and people entering the labor market for the first time.

The key is that to be considered part of the civilian labor force, a person must either be working or have actively looked for work (an application, a resume, a an interview, a contact) in the past four weeks.

People who are not working and haven't looked for work in the past four weeks because they are ill, they have children to care for, they are discouraged, they are retired, they are in school or training, or for any other reason are NOT counted among the civilian labor force.

The unemployment rate is the percentage of people in the civilian labor force who are actively looking for work and who do NOT currently have either a part-time or full-time job. 

Q.  Are part-time workers counted among the unemployed?

Anybody who is unemployed and actively looking for work, whether they were laid off or quit, whether they have previously worked or are just entering the labor market, whether they were previously working full-time or part-time, is considered "unemployed".  If someone is working part-time now but wants full-time work, he/she is NOT counted as unemployed.. Read on.

Q.  If I'm working part-time, but I need a full-time job and I'm looking for a full-time job.. am I counted as "unemployed"?

No.  If you are now working, you are not unemployed, even if you don't make much money or work many hours.  However, there are alternate unemployment measures, including a "U-6" measure of underemployment put out by the Bureau of Labor Statistics that do include part-time workers who want full-time work.

Q. Since I no longer get unemployment compensation, I'm not counted among the unemployed.

A. The monthly unemployment rate is completely separate from the weekly jobless claims reports. They use different inputs. That weekly questionnaire that people need to submit if they are getting unemployment benefits is NOT input into the monthly unemployment numbers. There's NO connection.

The monthly unemployment report is based on a survey sample of 60,000 households in the United States. Statistical samples are used for almost every number out there, as it is not possible to count every person in the United States. We only attempt to count every person in the United States every ten years, in the decennial Census. It's a mammoth undertaking, which is why most numbers and statistics are based on a sample.

Statisticians have been designing and calculating samples for generations now; it's a science, not an art. Though every statistical study has a margin of error, not only is this the only way of getting any reasonable statistic, but many statisticians feel that carefully chosen and conducted samples may be more accurate than counting every last individual.

Q.  The government will not approve more unemployment benefits because they don't want people to know how bad things are.  If they approve more unemployment benefits, the unemployment rate will go up.

A.  Sorry, but this simply isn't true.  If the government approved 14 more weeks tomorrow, which would be welcomed by so many, the "regular" UI rate would not go up because it is NOT related to the number of people getting unemployment benefits.

The government, including the Democrats, aren't stalling on extending UI benefits for this reason; they either don't think they can get any more benefits passed this Congress or they don't think the 99ers are a big enough voting bloc.  Or both.

Q. Nobody has ever asked me whether or not I am unemployed as part of this survey. How do they know?

A. There are approximately 125,000,000 households in the United States and the sample is based on 60,000 of them. Therefore, less than one in two thousand households will be interviewed for this survey. One in two thousand means that your chances of being interviewed for this survey are very small indeed. By comparison, most political polls use samples of only a couple of thousand people. But they are still pretty good at predicting the outcome of most political races.

Q. This is all just a lie to make people feel that they are being counted. Nobody has counted me.  Nobody has counted my friends.

A. The Bureau of Labor Statistics has been calculating the unemployment rate based on such a survey sample for decades now. If anything, their methods have improved as new and faster computers are used to crunch data. If you don't believe that a survey sample can effectively represent a population, there's not much I can say.

You may wish to read about statistical sampling. There's a good basic intro article here at Wikipedia. The first paragraph presents a very basic overview.

Q. This seasonal adjustment stuff is hogwash.

A. There are times of the year when employment always goes down and unemployment always goes up.  Vice verse, there are times of the year when employment always goes up and unemployment always goes down. 

Christmas is the easiest of those times to understand.  Employment is always higher in December due to Christmas retail hiring, in good economic times and in bad.  Unemployment is always down in December.  In January, when all of those retail establishments cut back, employment is always down and unemployment is always up.  

There are also ups and downs due to seasonal variations such as outdoor construction work, staffing for summer and vacation venues, and layoffs associated with the end of the school year.  In March, usually 500,000 up to 900,000 new employees are added to non-farm payrolls, but the numbers are adjusted downwards.  In March 2011, about 900,000 "real" people were added to non-farm payrolls, but the number of jobs increased in seasonally adjusted numbers by only about 200,000.  

Seasonal adjustments (made by statisticians using these usual variations) are attempts to even out these normal ups and downs so that we can all have a better understanding of what is happening with the employment situation aside from the usual seasonal ups and downs.

"Raw" unadjusted numbers reflect what is actually happening in the labor market in any given month or week.  Those numbers can tell us who actually is getting jobs, and what kind of jobs people are actually getting.  That's important to know if you are looking for work.  But "seasonal adjustments" round things out so that comparisons can be made between one month and the next.  Leave a comment if this still isn't clear. 


Q. My sister has been laid off for a long time but is now selling stuff on eBay. She keeps looking for work, but she does make a few hundred dollars a month. Is she counted as unemployed any more?

A. If she is surveyed and answers the questions honestly, she would no longer be counted as unemployed if she made money during the survey month.

That is a real drawback to the unemployment rates. People who are working small businesses, even if they make only a few hundreds bucks a month, are counted as self-employed and not included among the unemployed... even if they are looking for work.  If they are self-employed, not currently earning any money, and they are looking for work, they are considered as unemployed.

Q. My uncle was laid off last year and he has not been able to find a job. As he is over 62, he decided to take early retirement. He has stopped looking for work now, but he might see if he can find something later this year if things look better. Is he counted as unemployed?

A. If he hasn't looked for work in the past month, he is no longer counted as unemployed. If he looked for work sometime in the past year but not during the past month, he may be counted as a discouraged worker. But he would no longer be in the "labor force".

This is another shortcoming of the current survey. As far as I know, they don't ask questions to determine what the true status is of someone who has retired; that is, if the person is retired because they can't find work or if the person has retired because they genuinely were ready to retire. They also don't ask if a retired person intends on returning to the work force in the future.

Q. Someone told me that the Feds have changed the way they calculate the unemployment rate. This person said that the Feds drop people from the "seeking work" category every month so that the unemployment rate keeps dropping.

A. Well, "someone" is wrong. To repeat, the Bureau of Labor Statistics bases its counts on the answers to survey questions from the "Household Survey". The BLS doesn't drop anybody. If you answer the questions one way, you are counted as "not in the labor force". If you answer the questions another way, you are counted as unemployed. Read a few paragraphs down, and you can check out the BLS links yourself.

And the BLS has not changed the way they calculate the unemployment rate in decades.  In the early 90's, some changes were made to questions and procedures and to some alternate rates.  When they ran parallel tests, the changes actually increased the unemployment rate. 

Q. This is all tomfoolery and balderdash. The government is cooking the books so that we don't know how bad things are.

A. Hmm... If the government is cooking the books, they are doing a bad job of it. If you were Obama and wanted to cook the books in terms of unemployment numbers, wouldn't you have cooked them down below 8% before the November 2010 elections?  (* This was originally written in early 2011.) 

There are alternate rates of unemployment, such as the U-6 number that adds back discouraged workers and part-time workers who want a full-time job. This rate (as of January 2011) is about 16% compared to 9% for the "regular UI rate". 

Q. How do you know all of this stuff? Are you just theorizing or making stuff up?

A. No. The Bureau of Labor Statistics does a pretty darned good job at explaining what they do. First of all, the complete monthly situation report is available online HERE. And here's another good link that explains in detail how the BLS collects data and calculates the unemployment rate. Also, the monthly report is available online back to the early 90's at the ARCHIVES.



Updated 1/11/2015
Updated 2/2014
Updated 4/22/2013 
Updated 12/28/2012
Updated 2/29/2012 

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Hey unemployed: Just take any job!

Good morning, fellow lazy unemployed people! (Bear with me; you aren't lazy.)

Time to waltz down to the local McDonald's and start working... Yep, that's right! Just walk right in and tell them you are starting work this morning.  Even if your last job was as a financial analyst.  McD's will hire you on the spot!  (Sure they will!)

Or that bakery with the Help Wanted sign in the window? Just go right in there and tell the owner that you are ready to bake cakes.. even if you have never baked a cake in your life.

Or go hang out on the corner with the immigrants waiting for day jobs. Of course, somebody is going to hire you, an obviously non-Hispanic woman in her late 50's, for a day job! How could you doubt that they would?

There are jobs out there for you! All you have to do is to be willing to work, right?

Are you as tired of these kinds of silly comments as I am?

Should any of us even answer these silly comments anymore?

Well, let's get the facts out there:

Yes, the unemployment rate has gone down a bit, though much of that is from people dropping out of the labor market. But there are still at least four jobseekers for every job, and employers are still very picky, even for cake bakers.

(Update July 2013:  As of June 2013, the unemployment rate has gone down about 2 points since this article was written in early 2011.  And we now have "only" about 3 jobseekers for every job, not four.)


Simple grade school math seems to elude the naysayers who believe that "anybody can get a job": 

If there are four times as many jobseekers as there are jobs, a good 80% of people out there will not be able to get a job. Why is that so hard to understand?

How many of you remember playing musical chairs when you were a kid? You would march around a row of chairs with the other kids, and when the music stopped, everybody would sit down. Except that one kid would not get a chair because there were fewer chairs than kids. Well, today's job market is like that, except that there are four or five "kids" for every chair.

So... everytime you are bombarded with a fool who claims, "There are jobs out there! I just saw a help wanted sign today!", try not to let it get to you. It's not worth the aggravation. Anybody who thinks that there are jobs "out there" has not been looking for a job in the past three years. Or he/she has some kind of special skill set or a contact that has enabled him/her to quickly get a job.

I know a number of people who have gotten jobs over the past two years: One of my friends is a statistician in the health sciences. The son of a friend, a recent college graduate, has a sister who has a father-in-law who is a fabulously successful entrepreneur. The sister's father-in-law got him a job in one of his Internet companies. The son of another friend has a brand new degree in Computer Science. He got a job.

I won't go on, but I think you get the picture. Just because some people get jobs, it doesn't mean that there are jobs for everyone.

Try not to let the naysayers get you down.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Struggles of Molly and her Family

Our struggles have included:
  • Long-term unemployment.
  • Health problems.
  • Major surgery.
  • A FEMA-declared natural disaster that damaged a home.
  • A motor vehicle accident with serious injuries.
  • Drastic drop in income in a long-time job.
  • Heat turned off for non-payment. 
  • Having so little cash that we were looking for change in the car to get a gallon of gas to get home.
  • Savings and 401K's completely depleted.
  • Borrowing from friends and relatives (with extreme guilt.)
  • Counting pennies and change to get a few dollars for food until the next paycheck.  
  • Medical negligence that caused an extra year of pain and suffering.
  • Chronic pain. 
  • Car booted.
  • Brakes giving out while driving. 
  • Electricity cut off for non-payment.
  • Small business closing as customers went belly-up. 
  • Credit completely destroyed.
  • Wages garnished.
  • Bank account frozen.
  • Bankruptcy.
  • Home in foreclosure.
  • Getting fired.
You name it, either we or somebody very close to us has experienced it in the past three years.  To be honest, I think that things could be worse, and I think that many people are in much worse situations than we are.

As for my husband and myself, we're not spring chickens, and we never expected that things would be this difficult as we approach 60. 

The devastation of our lives has happened in absolute lockstep to the devastation of the economy. And, as the economic recovery is still tenuous, so is our personal recovery.

As I write these blog entries about the current state of affairs, I'll add a few entries about our experiences from time to time.

In the meantime, read, post a comment, introduce yourself, and tell us your story!