Yes, Hotels Draw Job Seekers. So What?

December 19th, 2011 at 12:22 am | 6 Comments |

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Journalists need good, shocking examples of the country’s still serious unemployment problems and one offered itself this past weekend when people filled out more than 16,000 applications for about 750 positions as a new Cleveland casino. The deluge of applications made for good TV and appeared on dozens of websites.

Only one problem: dramatic as they are, the long lines of job seekers for a hotel are meaningless for a hotel or big casino are meaningless. (The Cleveland operation has no hotel as such but does offer hundreds of hotel-like jobs.)

Although Cleveland has surely seen better days, the strength of its medical and education sectors in particular have carried it through the recession pretty well. The 7.1 percent metro-area unemployment rate, the Bureau of Labor Statistics finds, is actually a point and a half below the national average. So, yes, there are a lot of people out of work in Cleveland but it’s actually one of the few rust-belt metro areas that’s doing well relative to the country.

In fact, no matter what the economy, new hotel openings will always produce massive numbers of applications. Large hotels are one of the few business enterprises that have jobs appropriate for almost everyone: there are lots of not-so-skilled (but, in many cases, decently paid and unionized) jobs cleaning rooms and serving food. Skilled craftspeople like carpenters also have a place in hotels. And not all hotel jobs are blue collar either: white collar conference planning/junior management jobs pay decently, will often train on the job (conference planning isn’t rocket science) and offer quicker advancement than most other entry level positions with big companies. Finally, casino dealer jobs pay really well despite not requiring any serious formal education: a personable dealer working a table game can easily take home $80,000 a year.

Unlike other similar “job for everyone” institutions like universities and hospitals, new hotels open rather frequently and need to staff up all at once. Large hotels, furthermore, are almost always purpose-built structures in prominent, central locations that lots of people pass by; their mere construction is a huge advertisement for job seekers. Even in the buoyant late 1990s economy, new hotels attracted far more applicants than they had jobs for. (Dozens more stories like that one.)

The bottom line is pretty simple: in any economy, a brand new hotel opening will be deluged with job seekers since it’s one of the few places anyone can work. Even in a full-employment situation, a fair number of people who are simply dissatisfied with their jobs and decide to apply for hotel jobs. Is 16,000 applications for 750 jobs a lot? Yes. Would there be fewer in a better economy? Yes. But around-the-block lines for jobs at a new hotel will materialize in any economic situation. Dramatic as they are, they really aren’t news.

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6 Comments so far ↓

  • Scritor

    Wow. Heartless.

    You know what else isn’t news? Poor people, I guess. They existed in the late 1990s, too. For 60 Minutes to have reported on people living on the street in the suburbs of central Florida is a national shame.

    Wait a minute. Those people were living there because of foreclosure and the near-impossibility of getting a job in this economy? And their inability to fully afford their homes could have been predicted if you knew that banks and mortgage signers willfully swindled their customers into borrowing an unsustainable amount to make up for the fact that their wages hadn’t gone up since the mid-90s? And the people on the street living in cars because they couldn’t afford to live in motels actually included sympathetic white families with children who were middle class before the recession?!

    It’s safe to assume that in the late 90s, a newly opening hotel (750 jobs) would have drawn many applicants. It is a job, after all, and assuming that it’s a luxury hotel, some of those jobs might even be more desirable and better paying than the jobs that people were already holding. It is completely ludicrous to assume that with unemployment south of 5% and the skies beginning to clear for people living in poverty-endemic areas, a hotel opening could have drawn anything like 16,000 applicants. You know for a fact that there are likely engineers and former state government employees down on their luck and going out for those jobs like there’s no tomorrow, because they’re unemployed.

    That’s the big difference. In a country with real U6 unemployment near 17%, destabilized pensions and 401(k)s, and a Republican congressional delegation devoted to screwing over anyone not earning their million dollars in comfort, the average duration of unemployment is over half a year, and the long-term unemployed are suffering in this country, trying to make ends meet while looking for jobs, and occasionally dropping out of the work force because they correctly view it as impossible for all 16 million people to get the 1 million or so net jobs created a year.

  • rbottoms

    Dear poor people, bite my shiny metal rich a**.

  • Graychin

    Some of those 16,000 people who showed up to apply for jobs probably have jobs now, but were looking for a better one. How many? My guess is – not very many.

    And Cleveland is one of the Rust Belt metro areas that’s doing well relative to the rest of the country? It must be truly awful in the rest of the Rust Belt.

    Marie Antoinette said it best: “Let them eat cake.” Right, Eli?

  • valkayec

    What hit me when I read this piece was the math. It’s over 21 people per every job.

    Anyone who doesn’t see that as a problem has been living inside gated communities too long or has basic morality issues or is deaf, dumb and blind to what has happened in this country for the last 12+ years.

    In any case, saying these kinds of job stories is meaningless is obtuse…and exactly what the original OWS movement attempted to point out.

  • Asian Tiger Mosquito

    2011…

    Hi there! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my previous room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!…