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Tales from the “new normal”

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“In my area a company will not hire you if you’ve been unemployed for too long.” –Need to Know viewer

Although the unemployment rate hovers near a five-year low, it is still at a painful level. Critics say that the official numbers masks the true problem by not counting those who have just plain given up looking for work or are not working enough to support themselves. The U.S. government itself will admit to some 20 million un and underemployed Americans. Indeed, some economists, labor statisticians and management experts are warning that the eventual outcome of our recent economic troubles might well be a “jobless recovery”. It’s called “the new normal” — an economy where we never get near full employment again and where the traditional strategies used to land a job — more education, working your connections, rapidly sending resumes to every listing — won’t do the trick. And, then there’s the bias against the long-term unemployed. After a spate of complaints about discrimination against the currently jobless, several states have passed laws which prohibit any employer holding a candidate’s employment status against them. Will it help? What will? Read some of the stories we’ve received over the past year and add your own.

Then head over to PBS NewsHour’s Business Desk and “Ask the Headhunter” column for advice on negotiating the new normal.

Tales from the new normal

“Can’t you see that 1 in 5 American workers is unemployed or dramatically under-employed because we are in a Depression?? My Grandmother passed away at age 100 years this month. She said this time reminded her exactly of the times she had in the 30s except that now, thanks to unemployment insurance you didn’t have to see people on the streets begging as much. Some people may take handouts and let their skills drop. Most simply don’t know what to do to find a job when folks like you won’t hire over your own dead body. How about investing in your community and expanding your business, mind and heart a bit?”

“Single mom, worked for my company for 13 years while all the geniuses on wall street and the government turned a blind eye for decades and created the mess we are in.  They get bailed out with fat cash and at 49 you want me to work at minimum wage or for the yahoo’s who got us into this mess!!!!”

“I also went back to school to get an undergraduate degree in history at 51 years of age.  I wanted to go back to work and earn a living wage.  I thought the best way to accomplish that goal was to get a college degree.  I am very close to graduation and now Texas is not hiring teachers.  Who would have ever thought that a teacher with a passion to teach would be unable to get a job.  Now everyone tells me switch programs from teaching and go into nursing.  What the heck is a person to do?  I would like to go back to work before I turn 60!”

“Went back to School at 49 Graduated tech school At 50 with a 4.0 as a Pharmacy tech Passed the Fed certification Cant find a job ether they want more experience or they want more Schooling i am very frustrated at this point!”

“I’m a 99′er.  Two engineering degrees and a double MBA.  The market is tough out there even for the very skilled.”

I don’t have a clue what the employer wants!

“As unemployed I have sent out many an application and resume. Often or not I wouldn’t really have a clue what the employer wants and it is a gambling proposition, often because they give the job searcher a brief description of what they want. So Many employers do this and I have to guess if my resume meets their need. Neither party addresses that just maybe the employer doesn’t really know what they want under the economic stress, so they don’t spell out what they want from an employee.” (Check out Need to Know’s interview with Peter Cappelli, author of Why Good People Can’t Get Jobs.)

Unemployment bias

“Turning away job applicants solely on the grounds of
their employment status is unfair, discriminatory, bad for the economy, and
must be prohibited under federal, state, and municipal law. It is also generally considered a poor human
resources practice to exclude a job candidate for a personal reason or if a
bona fide qualification of current employment for a position is absent.”

“So big deal, they can’t list “unemployed need not apply” in their ads/postings but they can still not hire anyone that is unemployed and that is what needs to stop. If an unemployed person is qualified for the job then the company better have a damn good reason why they weren’t hired. And that reason should be taken to the labor board and checked to see if it is legitimate or just and excuse. These employers have to stop the bs. The reason they don’t hire the unemployed is because they are qualified for the job and the company doesn’t want to pay them the money they are worth.”

The education situation

“Disturbingly, advanced levels of education are not insulating workers from long-term unemployment. A worker with a doctorate is as likely to be long-term unemployed as a worker with a high-school diploma.”

“That is what America needs today. We do not need any expensive high-sounding University Degree or Executive Diploma from Ivy League Schools. It is time to close down all the colleges and universities in this country and open up many public schools that give Public High-school Diploma. Wouldn’t that be better if all the people with high school diploma got jobs? Instead of giving $100 for 10 people, give $10 for 100 people. Every household in this country will have jobs.”

The skills gap?

“Let us look at our school curriculum and see how we can improve and produce more qualified candidates and move them into workforce.”


A note to employers

“It might help to take a little course on human psychology before you choose who to hire. Often, the person who seems angry and bitter to a layman, is actually nervous and afraid of failing to get another job because they need it so much. The person who’s calm as a cucumber, could be the one who just doesn’t have it in them to care so much, and wouldn’t care to do the job so well either– but knows that once they’re in, you won’t want to go through the hiring process all over again. Consumers have all met that sort of employee before, and they hurt your company’s business and reputation.”

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