As Unemployment Persists, Employers Pick Cherries
For the unemployed, especially the “long term unemployed,” the prospects for the future look dimmer everyday.
A recent NorthEastern University study regarding the affects of long term unemployment – specifically unemployment lasting six months or longer – points out, those with longer periods of unemployment, almost in a self fulfilling prophetic fashion, find their opportunities for a return to the labor force diminished, almost by the day.
After sending out thousands of mock resumes in pairs to potential employers, researchers found that those with six months or more of unemployment, regardless of qualifications or experience, had less than a ten percent chance of receiving a call back or interview. This compared to a nominal showing by those with more recentl employment.
The disparity grows considerably more when resumes and applicants submit for positions outside of their conventional professional industries. The chances, they found, of a recently unemployed person transitioning into a new industry was still greater than that of an established professional with a greater term of unemployment finding work in their own.
Finding that those who have been without work for a period of six months or longer stand next to no chance of finding new jobs, either in their field or others, the study sent muted but noticeable waves throughout labor economics circles, and cast a new light on the plight of the long term unemployed.
These findings however were lost on a recent congressional hearing, held to examine the plight of long term unemployment. Compared to the more contested and politically charged hearings about energy, banking and Benghazi, in which the rooms were packed with legislators, the employment hearings found only four lawmakers in attendance.
Taking on another curious aspect of the modern labor market, daily job searches through sites like Craigslist, Indeed and Monster are show a marked shift in employer expectations, amid the increasingly competitive job market. As professionals and graduates struggle to find professional level, or even entry level positions, the service and labor sectors are finding themselves overrun with potential applicants and they are increasing standards for hiring to previously unheard of levels.
Looking first to the basic construction and laborer industries, many positions which once required only the physical ability to swing a hammer or haul debris, are now seeking applicants with OSHA-10 certifications, certifications with numerous hand and power tools and upwards of 5 years experience on average, for those very same, very basic jobs.
As recently as 2010, many of the more basic construction laborer jobs offered were seen as just that, basic.
Yet with the increased numbers of often desperate job seekers, employers in these and other fields seem eager to raise their “standards,” knowing that the increased applicant pool will provide greater varieties of qualified workers who themselves will likely be willing to work harder, for less money than they’re accustomed to.
To this point, the average offered wages for lower level job opportunities have largely diminished as well. Whereas throughout the better part of the 2000s, jobs such as washing dishes, prepping food and cleaning kitchens as a janitor or maintenance person, could fetch on average $10-15 an hour, depending on location and employer.
Those same jobs, when looked in modern job listings such as Craigslist, now range on average from the federal minimum wage of $7.50 to upwards of $10.
Furthermore, once entry level jobs, often given to recent high-school graduates, college students or young, inexperienced workers, now actively seek higher and longer levels of experience than ever before. In the restaurant world, once a staple of wage based, low skill employment, standards have risen.
Family dining chains such as Ruby Tuesdays, TGIFridays, Applebees and Chili’s are all requiring online applications in lieu of in person. The often lengthy automated aptitude and personality tests can often leave applicants feeling as though they were trying out for the space program.
With yes or no, or multiple choice questions such as “it’s okay to steal from work now and again,” or the more head-scratching ones like “I sometimes understand why people go on shooting sprees,” asked in repetition for nearly 40 minutes, one begins wondering just what is expected of a dish washer in this modern age of woe and want.
Additional changes to the labor market, noted by many to whom job hunting has become a daily full time activity, relates to the sales world. Once the province of retail and commission service sales, classified ads throughout the country have become increasingly inundated with often make believe entrepreneurial schemes, which themselves are often little more than scams.
If a legitimate opportunity – meaning not one seeking a “buy in” or “investment” for franchising of a business start up that may or may not exist – quite often applicants find upon interview that the “base salary” offered in the help wanted ad, is more of a potential average than guaranteed paycheck.
And even in one of the most reviled industries in the modern American nightmare, consumer collections, which at one time was so desperate to find employees that it would offer generous hourly rates, plus bonuses on accounts settled, expectations have risen, as wages and benefits have dropped dramatically.
So, could this all point to a marked shift in the labor market as a whole? With a greater pool of willing and hungry applicants, fewer worries about organized labor and greater power to pick and choose who they hire and for how much, employers throughout the country, while publicly decrying the abysmal state of the economy, are reaping the benefits as they find them.
And so long as unemployment and especially long term unemployment remains a serious matter, this trend of employer cherry picking will likely to continue.
(Photo from www.washingtonindependent.net)