Saying what I want to say on Labor Day

Posted: Monday, September 05, 2011 by Travis Cody in

So many politicians these days get to say whatever they want to say with little regard for facts or truth.  And people either believe or don't believe, sometimes with as little regard for the truth...they like or don't like what they hear based on how it sounds to them and how it fits in with their own world view.

It's all about spin.  And so we get big scary headlines about 9% national unemployment.

Can you look at that number for a minute?  What does 9% national unemployment actually mean?

Well, one of the things it means is that 91% of the American workforce is employed. 

I'm employed.  Pam is employed.  All of my local friends are employed.  Everyone in my family of working age is either employed or successfully retired.  My neighbors are all employed or successfully retired.

We buy stuff.  We spend responsibly.  We continue to save for retirement.  We contribute to charities and volunteer our time.

91% of working age Americans are employed.

Now I don't say any of this to belittle that 9% of Americans who aren't working.  Some communities are hard hit and really are struggling.  I know that.  Those people and communities should not be ignored. 

But is it that there just aren't any jobs?  None at all?  My company is hiring an average of 3 new employees per week, with no end in sight.  I see jobs offered in the classified sections of newspapers.  I see jobs listed on sites like Career Builder. 

Is it that there aren't any jobs?  Or is it that there aren't enough qualified applicants to do the jobs that are out there?  Or is it that people just don't want to do the jobs that are out there?  Or is it that people want to do a job similar to what they've always done and refuse to change directions in order to get back into the workforce?

I really wish there wouldn't be such an insane focus on whether new jobs are being created.  What is a "new" job anyway?  Every time I've moved from one job to another, that job has been "new" to me.  Is a "new" job just a position that is looking for a worker or has been filled recently with a worker?

If a company suddenly posts a need for 50 workers, did that company just create 50 "new" jobs?  Or are they only "new" jobs when the positions have been filled?

Maybe we could spend some time talking about the 91% of the workforce that is employed, rather than always headlining the 9% of the population that is out of work.  Or wouldn't it be nice to see a break down of where the jobs are and who is hiring and what you need to do to get qualified for those jobs, as opposed to always seeing the lines at the unemployment office or the sad faces of people who aren't working?

I feel for people who aren't working.  I really do.  It sucks not to carry your own weight.  I've been there.  But there are jobs out there and companies are hiring.  Either you're qualified for those jobs and you're going to get hired, or you need to think about taking another job that you don't want in order to get back in the workforce so that you can come to the interviews for jobs you do want from a position of strength.

I'm sorry.  That sounds like I'm blaming people who have lost jobs for losing those jobs, and holding the unemployed responsible for the economic difficulties in which they find themselves.  I'm not.  I'm just trying to make the point that we're only getting the negative news about jobs and recovery.  We're not getting any useful news about where jobs are and who is hiring.  And that makes it twice as hard on people who are looking for jobs.
And companies who have jobs available should remember that just because an applicant hasn't had a job for more than 6 months doesn't mean he or she isn't qualified to sit at the desk you are offering and do some great work for you.  
Being unemployed shouldn't be a barrier to getting an interview.  And being unemployed for a long time doesn't mean a person is no longer qualified to work.  Years of experience in the workforce aren't cancelled by becoming unemployed.
I once had to go back to delivering pizzas for a year after I swore I'd never do that again.  I had to do it because it was the only job I could find.  It sucked.  But it got me back to a place where I could get a job in inventory control.  That job sucked too, but it got me to a place where I could get a job as a mail clerk.  That job didn't suck so bad, and it got me to a place where I could move two desks over and start learning how to do accounts payable.

And that led me to Yosemite for a summer as a billing and office manager, which led me to southern California and more accounts payable, which led me to a bookkeeping and office management job.  And that paid for me to finish my degree in Business Administration with a focus on accounting, which led me to Washington State and my current great job as a Senior Operations Analyst at a company that is hiring 3 employees a week.

You never know what your stepping stone is going to be.  Maybe you have to go back to doing something you don't like in order to move forward.  That was my answer.  I don't know what the answer is for the 9% of Americans who aren't back to work yet.

But I do know that 91% of Americans are working. 

Reason 60:  Because it can be challenging enough to make a prosperous life without the added difficulty of slogging through constant conflict. 
Join us on 4 November.  You know you want to.


  1. Akelamalu says:

    The opposition always dwell on the negatives, whilst those in power dwell on the positives.

  1. Jeni says:

    Actually Travis, the unemployment figures you listed are what the government lists but those figures do not include people no longer able to collect unemployment or those who have given up trying to find employment after sometimes spending years of searching, being disqualified for various reasons for even being interviewed. Trust me on this as I know personally from my own experience when I couldn't even buy an interview for a job -if I'd had the money to even do such a thing! People get turned away from potential interviews or even if they get that all-important interview, stupid things like the fact that they are currently unemployed or a credit check can cost them getting an interview or not being hired if they even can get interviewed. Also, applying for a lower level job than you have qualifications for can rule you out. Being willing to take a lower rate of pay -also not a good thing anymore in the job market either! Then, of course, many employers state that they can't find qualified workers when often it is the employers and their hiring policies that can and often do eliminate people from being hired -people who would make great employees turned away because of their age, their former rate of pay, etc.

  1. Cherie says:

    I agree that there's too much negative spin on the news. Thanks for encouraging a more positive dialogue!

  1. We need to both tailor some jobs for folks, and tailor some folks for jobs. I'm just glad to be employed.

  1. Akelamalu: I think it's easier to be negative sometimes.

    Jeni: You make good points. I know that the longer one is unemployed, the harder it is to get employed. It shouldn't be that way. Qualified is qualified.

    Cherie: I wish it was that simple. I do try to look at things from the top rather than the bottom.

    Charles: Well said.

  1. "We're not getting any useful news about where jobs are and who is hiring. And that makes it twice as hard on people who are looking for jobs."

    I nominate Travis for President.

  1. jennifer says:

    Your first paragraph summed it up for me. Honestly, I'm not sure what to believe anymore. There is so much put out there that promotes the agendas of others that I'm not sure what is true.

    Bryan works. I know this is true and I am so thankful!

  1. BRILLIANT post Travis. Sorry I was not here the day you posted.

    You make more sense then the people you refer to...

  1. One reason (aside from your logic, of course) that your posts make sense about things like this is because you post without emotion or hidden agenda. Mainstream media usually is trying to sell either the negative or the left or the right, when all I want are the FACTS.

    It IS unfair that the longer one is unemployed, the more difficult it is to get employment, but I also believe that sometimes a person just needs that ONE break, that one person who is willing to say, "Let's overlook the fact that this person is GROSSLY OVERQUALIFIED for this position; let's see if this person who is motivated and available NOW will be the right person for this job RIGHT NOW." I know it's worked for my husband many times.

  1. Mimi: I haven't given up on Mr Obama yet.

    Jennifer: It's hard to separate the truth and reality from the bluster and spin.

    V: One does one's best.

    Songbird: I think employers are missing out on some good people by narrowing their selection criteria.

  1. Linda says:

    I have been very fortunate throughout my life that I have always been able to find a job when I needed one. I've worked some jobs that I would rather not have but sometimes you just have to do what you just have to do to pay the bills.

    As for the current rate of unemployment, the only thing I can say there is that I wish that Amanda was able to find a job somewhere - anywhere - but so far she can't even seem to get a call-back from any of the places that she has applied to. Our part of Connecticut is not exactly a job-rich area and it's very, very frustrating for all of the younger people who really want to work as the jobs keep getting taken by the other people who have been getting laid off.

    It stinks but hopefully it won't stink like that forever.