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You Just Can’t Find Cheap Enough Help These Days

Listening to talk radio I just heard a conservative economist make the claim that many of the business people he talks to are complaining that because of extended unemployment benefits they cannot find people to apply for their jobs.  These employers say that they will advertise for a job only to have people show up and apply who would rather stay on unemployment.  These people are so lazy that they are telling their potential employer to give them a call back when their unemployment runs out.  This is such a stupid statement.  It ranks right up there with the guy claiming they know somebody who applied for a job and took whatever tests and scored the highest but lost it to some black guy who scored the bottom because of affirmative action.

Not too long ago I saw a job fair with a line of people that ran out the building, around the parking lot, and down the street.  For every employment position available they’ll have dozens of applicants trying to get hired.  Unemployment rates are the highest in years, but these people can’t find anybody to take these jobs.  If these people are so lazy and are so content to collect unemployment why would they bother showing up for a job interview?  And then when somebody does show up, who has the impudence to say to an employer to give them a call when the unemployment runs out?  As if the employer is going to get an email from the unemployment office saying that somebody’s unemployment just ran out.  How can employers not find somebody ready to work?  Everybody who’s out of work isn’t collecting an unemployment check.  There are a lot of black people whose unemployment ran out a long time ago and need a job.  Where are these jobs that nobody wants?

The idea that employers can’t find people is nothing more than an empty, baseless wives tail to deny extending unemployment insurance to people who are out of work.  Employers paying to cover unemployment benefits is just too much of a hardship for the job creators.  They need relief so that they can continue to make profits.  Who needs to worry about the unemployed?

Ask these conservatives to name the company that can’t find people to apply for jobs and it’s a fair bet that they’ll have at least a dozen applicants before the end of the day.  In fact, several people called into the radio show to ask how they could apply for any available jobs.  The economist who made the claim started to back track.  He didn’t mean to imply that it was a widespread problem but something of a trend for young people, mostly male and under twenty one, who live at home and don’t have a mortgage or a family to support.  If that’s the case, hire the twenty two and above who are willing to work.  Problem solved.  And if unemployment rates for young black males is any indication there are plenty of people in this category ready to work.  Maybe these are the type of employers who believe black people need not apply.  Knowing these people, when it comes to jobs and hiring they don’t want to get into all that affirmative action mess.  Chances are these employers are the same ones who say they know somebody who knows somebody who took a test and the black guy got the job.

People with masters and doctorates are working at McDonalds trying to earn some kind of living in hard times.  As an IT professional with a degree in mathematics and more then twenty years of experience in database development I’ve worked in a factory that produced plastic bottles for minimum wage to make ends meet.  I had to go through an agency to find that job and the agency would take a percentage of my check as a finder’s fee.  That was four years ago, before the economy hit bottom.  I can only imagine what it would be like to be so desperate for a job right now.  And people want to tell these stories about these poor employers with all of these jobs to give if only they didn’t have to compete with unemployment insurance paying people.

I don’t want to sound too callous and accusatory.  There probably are employers who can’t find the right person to fill a job at the rate they want to pay.  I’ve seen ads for database developers from people willing to pay ten to fifteen dollars an hour.  At such a low rate they probably would have a little difficulty finding qualified candidates who would be willing to take such a pittance.  But the problem isn’t unemployment insurance.  The problem is that some employers are looking to take shameful advantage of people looking for work.  Instead of valuing the contributions of their employees and looking to give people the means to make a living, some employers are looking only at the bottom line.  And if the pool of people looking to work stays large, if the unemployment rate remains high, it’s only a matter of time before desperation would make any rate of pay attractive.

So when I hear somebody say that they can’t find good people to hire, I’m a bit suspect.  If the price is right, I know somebody will eventually come along.  If a job applicant is bold enough to tell an employer to give a call when the unemployment runs out, that’s probably somebody you didn’t want working for you in the first place, so consider yourself lucky to discover the woeful work ethic in the first place.  But to make it sound like unemployment insurance is a widespread problem that keeps people from working and injures businesses is a bold faced untruth meant to propagate a conservative agenda that would continue to crush the working class and the poor.  Instead of spreading such rumors employers should learn not to be so cheap.  Try paying a reasonable wage and see what kind of results you get.  Just because people are ready to work doesn’t mean that they need to be screwed.

Thursday, October 13, 2011 - Posted by | Life, Thoughts


  1. Unemployment provides a guaranteed income. When you take a new job, your UI stops. Lose your new job the next day and you don’t qualify for anything.
    If you qualify for UI, you probably had a decent job. Reluctance can be from being asked to start at the bottom. Took me ten years to accept a new reality.

    Comment by loudefrogc | Thursday, October 13, 2011 | Reply

    • Thanks for the feedback loudefrogc,

      Ten years is a long time to resist changing to a new reality. But I’m willing to bet that the majority of job seekers don’t have the luxury to wait so long. Unemployment benefits, if you’re able to qualify, will run for a maximum of two years. And there are no benefits. That doesn’t sound like any deal people would be interested in.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, October 13, 2011 | Reply

  2. When you can’t find work, you make your own, but 9 out of every 10 startups fail. First effort was large enough to provide benefits. I owned a Corporation (me) that owned 1/3 of another corporation that hired me as an employee and paid benefits. Then I laid myself off when the company went under and drew insurance for another year. Very educational. Learned all about banks and bankruptcies and Governments regulations. That was the full time job.

    Comment by loudefrog | Thursday, October 13, 2011 | Reply

    • loudefrog,

      Like I said before, not everybody has the option of employing such a move as this. A lot of people just want a job and they just want some help until they can find one. Some people will take advantage of the system. But everybody shouldn’t be penalized because some of us look for the loopholes.


      Comment by brotherpeacemaker | Thursday, October 13, 2011 | Reply

  3. Well if anyone around here wants to pay me $15/hr, compared to what I make now, thats a huge leap…. I have some acquaintances and a few friends on UI right now, and they have just quit looking for the time being because most of the jobs they qualify for end up getting them about the same amount befor etaxes as the UI checks, so they figure why bother for now when they are barely making it on the UI check without taxes stripping out a healthy portion…

    I, myself, would work a minimum wage job (about a $3.50/hour paycut from what I make now) rather than collect UI, just because I prefer to earn my money no matter how pitiful thew check may look. I’d rather gripe about being underpaid than get a free check to stay home (unless that check nets me a cool $50K..then I’m okay with it! LOL). Doesn’t make me better than the other person, just the way my brain has always been wired.

    On a side note…if you want me to get dressed up in a goofy costume and direct people to your webpage building business, I’ll go in for $15/hour! 😛

    Comment by mikelovell | Friday, October 14, 2011 | Reply

  4. I know MANY people who are unemployed and trying desperately to find work because they know that unemployment does not last forever. For a few of them it ran out already and they were allowed to keep it six months longer, a whole six months…..

    So for the conservative economist that made those claims, I wonder what jobs he was speaking of, and where they were posted because every time there is a job fair in my city the place is packed and the line is out the door.

    Comment by Black Girl Thinking | Sunday, October 16, 2011 | Reply

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