Archive for the ‘unemployment’ Category

The history of unemployment

January 20, 2016


What do people do all day?

October 7, 2010

As a child, one of my favorite authors was Richard Scarry.  I poured over his Busytown books, charmed by the clever illustrations as well as by the kind spirit that imbues them.  I think the copy I have of my favorite Richard Scarry — What Do People Do All Day? — is the same copy I owned as a child, although at this point I can’t be sure.  Possessions have flowed through my life like water in a stream.  Regardless, I loved the book so much that I continue to honor it today by snatching up copies whenever I see one and sharing all but one with any child I meet.  My friend Isaac Willis is now intimately familiar with the Busytown population even if some of the pages of his copy have been torn to ribbons.

One thing that has always stuck with me about this book is the question that forms the title.  At my advanced age, I still have a very limited idea of what people do all day.  It seems to be one of the defining mysteries of my life.  Scarry’s creatures work as farmers, bakers, construction workers, police officers, doctors, tailors, pilots and ship captains, to name just a few.  But I was one of those kids who never could get her mind around what her father did all day, and as I grew older, “work” had a grim connotation to it.  My mom and dad didn’t seem to find much pleasure in their work.  It seemed a subject best avoided.

This could help explain my current predicament, I am well aware, but that’s not the point I am moving toward.  Basically, I can still feel a childlike wonder as I learn more about the various jobs that make the world go ’round. “Really?  You do that for a living?”  True, there are many more satisfying alternatives to unemployment and the rounds of interviews I’ve been on in the past 10 months (aargh!).  But it is kind of neat to stumble across a job you never would have thought existed until you answered an ad and completed an interview.  Such experiences give me hope that there’s a perfect job out there for an oddball like me.

Now that the recession is officially over, here are some helpful jobhunting stats

September 24, 2010

From the Economic Policy Institute, the devil is still there lurking in the details:

The total number of job openings in June was 2.9 million, while Current Population Survey data for that month shows that the total number of unemployed workers was 14.6 million. This means that the ratio of unemployed workers to job openings was 5.0-to-1, a slight improvement from the revised May ratio of 5.1-to-1. Importantly, this ratio does not measure the number of applicants for each job.  There may be throngs of applicants for every job posting, since job seekers apply for multiple jobs. The 5-to-1 ratio means that there is literally only one job opening for every five unemployed workers (that is, for every four out of five unemployed workers there simply are no jobs).

The ratio is significantly improved from its peak last November of 6.2-to-1, but there remains a severe shortage of jobs. The ratio of unemployed per job opening is still far higher than at the worst point in the last recession, when its maximum was 2.8 unemployed workers per job opening. In 2007, before the recession started, the ratio averaged 1.5-to-1.

I’m personally confident that the two library openings I applied for today will be seeing upwards of 300 applications.  As my good friend Frank points out, the system works because there are always more losers than winners.  You don’t have to draw me a picture for me to figure out these odds ain’t so good.