My initial reaction was "Shut up, Michael Bloomberg!"
His offense? Part of what he said this morning on Morning Joe (transcript 01:09:41): "You wonder why jobs are going overseas? There a are a lot unemployed people in America. There are a lot of jobs available. The skill sets don't match."
But it's not just Michael Bloomberg, as Paul Krugman points out:
Who are these wise heads I’m talking about? The most widely quoted figure is Narayana Kocherlakota, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis, who has attracted a lot of attention by insisting that dealing with high unemployment isn’t a Fed responsibility: “Firms have jobs, but can’t find appropriate workers. The workers want to work, but can’t find appropriate jobs,” he asserts, concluding that “It is hard to see how the Fed can do much to cure this problem.”No matter what the Bloombergs and Clintons say, jobs have been outsourced because people in other countries will work for less than what Americans expect to earn for the same job. Add to that the fact that the countries receiving our outsourced jobs have fewer worker protections and you've got a pretty simple reason for why jobs are leaving the U.S. There's more profit to be made!
Now, the Minneapolis Fed is known for its conservative outlook, and claims that unemployment is mainly structural do tend to come from the right of the political spectrum. But some people on the other side of the aisle say similar things. For example, former President Bill Clinton recently told an interviewer that unemployment remained high because “people don’t have the job skills for the jobs that are open.”
I'm going out on a limb here, but here's my example of why this is just more nonsense promulgated and promoted by those who think that corporations share no blame in our unemployment crisis.
Last week, I applied for a position with a company I once worked for. The position is one that I could do, have done. When I worked for this company, I started as a secretary (back when we still used that word). By the time I left (in good standing), I'd risen to the position of assistant state rep for one of the larger states in the U.S. During my five years with this company, I consistently received evaluations of Exceeded Standards. I'm still sorry I left that job for what turned out to be really stupid reasons (another opportunity that turned out to be a nightmare), but I know this organization rehires people. Or, at least, they used to.
I still haven't heard from them. While I'll admit that it's been thirteen years since I left quit my last job with them, I think it's fair to say that I still understand the mission of the organization and its basic structures. My skill set has improved and expanded in the thirteen years since I left.
This should be a cake walk, no? So what's the problem, Michael Bloomberg?
I've gotta tell you, I've applied for so many jobs, it's ridiculous. In the old days, half of them would have been slam dunks. The other half I never would have applied for in the first place because they are entry level or clearly not at the level at which I've worked for the last ten plus years.
And yet my phone does not ring. I've had exactly one interview since December 2009. One.
So I ask myself - is it my age? My old salary level? The simple fact that I'm unemployed? Am I expecting too much too soon?
You reach a point where you start to wonder if you really did all those things on your resume. Was I really capable of running an organization once upon a time? How did I become unemployable?
I guess I should ask the bigger question - just exactly what skill set is it that Americans need? What's the secret, Misters Bloomberg and Clinton? Because I haven't changed. The job descriptions for the jobs to which I'm applying haven't changed. The salaries seem to have been shaved and the duties expanded, but they are very much all the stuff I've done before. I can still create an agenda, develop a database, write memos, make phone calls, read contracts, sit in meetings and worry about budgets.
If you're going to indict Americans for this unemployment crisis without questioning the corporations, then you'd better come up with specifics because more of us are slipping over the edge and if November turns out to be the political disaster we've heard it's going to be, the already straining safety nets are likely going to be shredded.
Meanwhile, I set aside the utter freak out about ever finding a job again and try to focus on writing. Some days I can do it, other days I can't. Those are the days when the house gets really clean and the cats cower under the bed afraid they'll get swept away in the frenzy.
Okay, I'm done whining. I know have readers in NYC. Will one of you go over to the Mayor's office and give him a punch in his nutsack for being such a dope? Thanks.
Until next time.....