The status of the job market is on everyone’s mind right now. Even the employed.
But if you’re one of the many currently collecting unemployment benefits, the world is a frustrating place.
It’s not so much the effect of not having a place to go to every day as it is all the things that follow not having a job, like the fear of not having enough money to support your family. Behind many of today’s bankruptcies lies unemployment; mortgages can’t get paid, credit card bills become that much more difficult to make and any sort of unexpected financial requirement is magnified.
This recession is unique in that it has instilled fear on the part of many employers. Far too many companies are exceptionally hesitant to hire, even if they need them. As a result, current employees are asked to do more, often beyond their skill set. Thus, the job problem becomes even greater as those with work are being over-worked for the same amount of money, which leads to more stress and tougher work environments; and those without a job lose value because they lack what’s needed to take on the extra hours.
Today, on average, 4.6 people apply to every one opening. And with availabilities at an all-time low, competition has become fierce. Additionally, the fact that applicants are being asked to take on more further complicates the market. For example, older Americans who have been employed for decades in a specific position become suddenly obsolete in today’s multi-tasking, highly mobile workforce. They may simply lack what it takes to absorb additional responsibilities.
The younger workforce, those just out of college, are facing a “take anything you can get” job market, forcing them to pursue career fields far from where they majored, leading to entire segments of industry going without talent. The architecture field, for instance, has been decimated by the slow down in real estate and construction. Young professionals, unable to get jobs, are going in other directions. Architecture firms are having to literally create work not even related to building design in order to keep their staffs together and generate income. Many in the industry fear that an entire generation of architectural talent will be lost as a result of this recession. Not to mention a generation of wealth.
Here are some weird numbers: There are around 3.2 million jobs available throughout the country, which is 1.2 million less than before the recession took hold. However, even as more jobs become available, as has happened in the last few months, unemployment continues to rise. People believe this is a direct result of companies looking to do more with less.
An article from the Associated Press sums up the problem with today’s job market with an example from Bayer Material-Science, a division of Bayer, which has a facility here in Research Triangle Park. In seeking a new health and safety inspector for one of its plants, the skills asked for were expanded from previous opportunities, automatically disqualifying many people with experience in that field. From 30 candidates the company interview seven but was unable to find the level of diversification desired. An existing employee, already familiar with specific internal procedures and the people needing to be managed, as promoted to the new role.
And that is what is happening across the country. A Department of Labor study reported that less than half of those laid off between 2007 and 2009 found work by January of 2010.
We wonder what 2011 holds in store for the country.