The Leveling of the Playing Field
Maybe once-upon-a-time the image of the unemployed worker was that of the poor. But the unemployment line is no longer exclusively the “lot” of the underemployed or unemployable. As of January 2009 the number of unemployed Americans jumped to 11.6 million. 2.6 million of those have been unemployed for more than 27 months, aka “long-term” unemployment.
The profile of the unemployed worker continues to become increasingly diverse and multi-faceted, a true cross-section of our social and economic fabric and times.
When Did This All Start?
Remember Bear Stearns—the veteran Wall Street rockstar that toppled in March 2008? For many that event ignited the wick or perhaps it was just finally the battle cry, the big sign that the economy was not anything what it seemed. But already the shaky larger financial industry had thrown overboard nearly 40,000 workers.
Bear added about 14,000 to that pot at the end of May 2008. Those displaced workers fared better than the average Joe—they banked sizeable compensation checks and bonuses. *
College Students Affected
Try being a wet-behind-the-ears and eager college business grad these days. When Bear Stearns tanked over 250 top business students’ were canned before they even made it through the front door. This company was their dream job, and they were top crust in their graduating classes. Their job outlooks aren’t so rosy anymore. What about the middle of the road business school students?
Today’s college grad is looking dwindling jobs in the face and finding out that the job of their dreams may not be there a few months from now.
Now pink slips are being handed out daily across the country to private and public sector employees, state employees, city employees.
Mass lay-offs are commonplace—the amputation of 50 + employees from a company or business. In December 2008 nearly 2300 mass layoff “events” were counted and in January just about 2230. Worst affected industries were manufacturing, including auto parts, truck and auto, and plastics manufacturing. Other cuts came in retail, temp jobs, and transportation. (BLS)
But some of the freshest news is about state employees being cut, in education, in healthcare, you name it.
Worst Hit States
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Michigan, Rhode Island, and California reported unemployment rates significantly higher than others throughout 2008. The District of Columbia followed closely representing large populations across diverse regions of the country. (BLS) Most recently Michigan, California, New York, Indiana, Illinois, and North Carolina have reported massive job losses.
The economic situation is not good and the short-term and long-term outlooks hotly debated among experts. But the real face of the disaster is the universal unemployed, underemployed, and discouraged American worker. “Class” distinctions are disappearing—they needed to—and the division between wealth and poverty is shrinking. Outlook: survival.
* Bear Stearns Job Picture Starting to Clear, Fierce Finance