Where Have All The Good Jobs Gone? (CWI Final)
Posted February 25, 2009on:
It seems like every day now people are losing their jobs. From hosting important business meetings at Itron to emptying the greaser behind the counter of downtown Burger King, America’s job market has taken a turn for the worst. Keeping a steady job in the US today is almost as slim as finding one in the first place. As the outsider looking in (considering the fact that I’ve never held a job), I find myself quite puzzled. Where have all these job openings gone? Why are these companies cutting employees? And maybe the most confusing of them all…why aren’t we able to fix it, whatever that ‘it’ may be?
Approximately five and a half months ago, I was just stepping into the realm of becoming a senior at Cheney High School. I can honestly sit here (it’s currently 9:34 pm, the night before this paper is due) and type close to around two hundred pages of ridiculous anecdotes, stories, lessons, rumors, experiences, and pretty much anything else randomly random that doesn’t relate worth a damn to this paper. But of course, Father Time is a huge barrier in my current dilemma of having this paper finished, and besides, I wouldn’t want to bore anybody with tales from the past when the real focus on hand is facts from the future. Anywho, I had just blown out the eighteen candles on my Maggie Moo’s Ice Cream Cake, and getting a job was the farthest thing from my mind. It’s not the fact that getting a job is hard in any sense, but moreover that I have so many things that currently come before that.
Friends and sports top that list. I guess that’s not really what a teacher reading this wants to hear (maybe Stralz puts it best; “You are a student-athlete and not vice versa.”), but academics were (and still pretty much are) just not ‘high priority’ in my mind. Even though parents don’t want to admit it, school isn’t about what you absorb while sitting at that cramped desk in the front row, but what happens around and in spite of that. I think I may have caught that ‘senioritis’ bug that all the anxious twelfth graders talk about. However, throughout my senior year (so far), I have managed to maintain a 3.33 GPA, my lowest letter grade in any class not dropping below a ‘C’. Which brings up the whole overwhelming process of getting a job once again.
“C’s aren’t going to get you anywhere in this world, Bree. They’re average. What’s gonna happen when you apply for a job, huh? Do employers want ‘average’ people to fill their positions? Do they?” I just want to yell at the top of my lungs whenever our conversation gets to this point. “No, DAD! Rhetorical question, DAD! I’m working on it, DAD!” But of course, I can never say this to his face. I’ll always respond calmly with one, two or even a combination of all three of the excuses provided below.
A. “Nobody’s gonna wanna hire a senior in high school with absolutely no flexibility in her schedule to work for them. It’ll be best for us all if I just wait it out until summer, Dad.”
B. “There’s no possible way for me to juggle school, sports, and a job all at once. It’s hard enough already, Dad.”
C. “Even if I did find some rare company who hired people with my crazy schedule, you would be the one having to drive me there every day because you seem to overlook the fact that I don’t have a car, Dad.”
Usually Excuse ‘C’ provides all the cushioning I need to override his side of the argument. I know it does. I know for a fact that my father is way too busy to become my little taxi service overnight. Or at least was too busy.
You see, at the time, which was only but a few months ago, he held two well-paying occupations. On one side he was the head produce buyer eight years running for Charlie’s Produce. And on the other, being a realtor for Kestell Company Realty had yet to let him down. I guess you could say I had it pretty well off. I still do. No job, little to no serious responsibilities, about fifteen bucks a week via allowance, and a roof over my head with free food is livin’ the dream in my eyes. How could I contest to that, yu know? So you can only imagine the cold sensation of shock that shot through my body when Dad came home that idle Tuesday afternoon (five weeks ago today) and uttered those five ugly words…
“I lost my job today.”
Those words mocked me for the rest of the week. They still manage to send a chill down my spine whenever I start reading the ghastly sentence looming at the top of this page. Bold and CAPITILIZATION fail to expose the seriousness that settle behind them. “How did this happen?!?” I exclaimed, half expecting the words ‘Just kidding!’ to tag along. But before he had a chance to answer my question, I let my emotions get the best of me. My tears pierced the shoulder of his polo shirt as he pulled me close, hugging me and saying that everything would be okay in the end, and that if it wasn’t okay, it wasn’t the end.
It’s actually quite scary writing about that today. Not scary I guess, but it makes me think of all the things that could happen next. It’s amazing when you get to that point in your life where you realize how lucky you really are, and how much you depend on your salary as a means of survival. I mean, of course my dad is just another statistic in all these unemployment percentages nowadays, but getting into the cause and effects of not having a steady income really puts things in perspective.
For an excellent example, take the Chicago-based company of Boeing. Not even a month ago, their headquarters announced on national news that they were going to be cutting 4,500 jobs in 2009 just in the state of Washington. 4,500 jobs?!? That’s insane. Boeing as a whole employs 160,000 people, 76,000 of those who work in Washington alone. Taking higher mathematics and applying them to this current world issue makes you not help but raise an eyebrow. Take a look. à 4,500(divided by)76,000(equals).0509 and so on and so forth which turns out to be 6%. So three out of every fifty employees working for Boeing in Washington State were dropped, just in the month of January. Wow. I can’t imagine all the hate mail and other negative vibes that franchise gets from laid-off workers, their wives, their husbands, their extended families, their friends, etc.
(The following letter is NOT REAL. It’s a very bad dramatization of what my hate mail will sound like if my husband ever loses his job due to layoffs and what not. Please do not try this at home… )
To Whomever Fired My Husband At Work Last Week;
I hate you. I hate you, hate you, hate you. Do you have any idea how much time my husband wastes lying around the house like a lethargic bum? He has yet to empty Fluffy’s litter box. The poor cat has to climb to the top of ‘Turd Mountain’ every time she has to go #2 anymore. And to hell if I’m layin’ a finger even near that wretched thing. Ugh. How could you fire a man who has provided you with 25 years of nothing but back-breaking labor and unpaid overtime shifts? It’s all your fault. You want to know what he accomplished today? Nothing. Oh wait, no. Moving from one chair to another has to account for something right? Even if the reason behind it was because he can’t fit in his blue recliner any longer. Twenty pounds in twelve days. TWENTY POUNDS IN TWELVE DAYS! How does that even work?!? I honestly think he can’t feel feelings anymore. The other day, I caught him having a heated argument about whether or not Jesus was black with a half eaten chocolate Twinkie. I ask you now before I go absolutely insane and leave the love of my life behind me. Okay, screw asking; I’m telling. Take him back! Do it. Please.
With Hope And Faith For The Future,
Ivuh Gawn Maad
P.S. “Meow, deeper meow, short hiss, right paw swipe, long hiss, followed by a shrill MEOW at the end.” (Fluffy says she hates you, too.) xoxo
So, I’ve officially found excuse ‘D’ to put on my list. “Ummm…Daddy?…I’ve analyzed through and through the job market today, and I’ve come to a conclusion. I am currently not able to find a job because people who are supposed to be taking jobs like yours are now coming down to jobs like mine and taking those instead.” This actually would not be that far from the truth. Just the other day, I submitted my perfectly filled out application to the Iron Skillet and couldn’t help but notice the stacks of other applicants’ applications underneath mine. I swear to God, there must have been at least forty other forms there. Think about that for a second or two. Forty people battling for one job. Hell, go back to last summer and you don’t even have half the stack of paper you have now. Desperation from unemployment has legitimately blinded our country.
Approaching this economic crisis in an optimistic view takes some courage, I’ll admit it. But approaching this economic crisis in an optimistic view and using it to your advantage is a whole other concept. Maybe that’s why I have an overbearing sense of pride for my dad. Losing his job didn’t mean the end at all. It meant a new beginning. Because now, he’s going to school to become an EMT (Emergency Medical Technician). It’s weird in the sense that when I’m going to attend college someday, he will be, too. His will be for a completely different career of course, but none the less, I was very surprised at his decision in choosing this.
According to him, the economy will end up fixing itself with Obama leading the pack. According to me, that’s a bunch of sugar-coated crap. I believe our world consists of two kinds of political stereotypes; the blind and the deaf. The blind being the ones who constantly overlook the little things that could be important pieces to our ‘puzzle of prosperity’, and the deaf being those who do pay attention to the little things, but choose to take no action towards them. So in most cases, it’s the deaf leading the blind. If that makes any sense at all.
I guess what I’m trying to get at is that this economy is in an enormous whirlwind of debt, unemployment, and foreclosures, and that we, the people, are swept up in it all without ever having a chance to brace ourselves in the first place. However, suppose everyone forgot about this huge obstacle we face today. Suppose unemployment rates drastically fall from that dreadful 7.3% and creep down into a comfy zone of 4.4% – 5% instead. Gas prices magically pulled off this feat didn’t they? Of course I know we’re dealing with jobs here, but still. I can almost guarantee that if you were to pull someone aside, off the streets of New York per say, and ask them the simple question of “What do you think about the current unemployment rate of America?”, they would have something specific to say, mostly complaints and endless rants. But turn around and ask that same person what they would do to help the global economy and how, and you find yourself back to square one again. “Ummm…let’s see…ummm…I would…recycle more?…ummm…” And thus the vicious cycle starts all over again.
Looking back upon this paper, I realize that yes, America is in a struggle for their lives. Literally. Yet, I also realize that contributing to the problem instead of helping to destroy it is one very dire weakness, we as a country portray. So as I sit here, a jobless senior whose biggest current worry is finding out who ate the last piece of my birthday cake, I find myself lost in thought over what will become of America as I know it, and have known it for the past eighteen years of my life. Will we ever make enough progress as to fixing our billion dollar debts? Will our countries unemployment rate ever go back to where it was prior to the Iraq War? And maybe the most important question of them all. Will any of this happen within my lifetime?