Unemployed for a Year. Who Speaks for Me?

August 22nd, 2011 at 12:19 pm | 57 Comments |

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I received The Call exactly a year ago at 11:30 a.m. EDT. That was a bit early. For almost nine years I had worked from my home in Charlotte, NC for a small company in California, so calls from the office before noon my time were not frequent. When I heard that my boss, his boss and the HR director were on the phone, I did not need to hear another word from them to know that my life was about to change.

It did not exactly come as a surprise, since we already had a mass layoff in late 2008, and when several scientists left on their own in the spring and summer of 2010, there was no visible effort to replace them. Furthermore, several important projects fell through as our customers (mostly pharmaceutical companies and health plans) were sitting on piles of cash but refused to spend it on anything.

And so I got to share the experience of millions of Americans in the Great Recession. I am sure many of my early experiences were typical – dealing with severance paperwork, signing up for LinkedIn, shipping company computers back to the office (well, this may be less typical), composing a resume and browsing ads on the Internet. I am also sure some of them were nearly unique.

My top priority in the first month and a half was actually wedding and honeymoon planning. I proposed on top of the Eiffel Tower in late April, we came back from Europe in early May, booked the earliest available church date – early October, and thus had less than five months to plan everything. For various reasons (including health scares with our parents) we were seriously behind by the second half of August (in fact none of the honeymoon arrangements had been made). So having plenty of free time was a pretty substantial silver lining.

The wedding went well (I must say that I actually consider myself better off than a year ago – a good wife is a lot harder to find than a good job) and the next day we flew to Rome. I had some secret hopes of having some job interviews via Skype while sitting on our room’s balcony in Sorrento with the Gulf of Naples and Mt. Vesuvius in the background or in Agrigento with the Concord Temple in the background, but, alas, that was not to be (in fact I did not score any interviews for months). After 25 days, we came back (just in time for Halloween) and I completely focused on the job search (except for an occasional weekend in Las Vegas or on the Atlantic Coast).

All through the winter, the job market was frozen. I would apply around New Year’s and get and interview in March! In the spring there clearly was a thaw, but summer has brought a drought. I’m not an economist (although I occasionally play one on FrumForum), but I think we may well be headed for a double-dip recession.

Another observation I can report is that being overqualified for most positions is no fun. On the other hand, employers are now much pickier about skills and experience. Back in 2000 the interviews went: “You don’t know Java? No problem! Are you at least willing to learn?” A couple weeks ago I got a call about a PhD level position which overall looked like a good a fit. The HR screener asked me how much SAS experience I had, and when I replied “light”, that was it – they wanted intermediate or advanced.

I don’t even know whether with employer attitudes like that I should still bother applying for any quantitative finance positions – I don’t have any experience in that field (only book knowledge). In my opinion, that is actually a good thing, since the existing financial models were proven spectacularly wrong in September 2008, and a fresh unbiased look would be beneficial. But the employers have their own opinion.

Longtime readers probably think that it would not be like me to write a long article on any topic without any political angle, and I am not going to disappoint them. So here goes.

Unemployment insurance is not well designed (and if it was voluntary, I would not bother paying the premiums). The cap is low, and I get less in a week than I used to earn in a day. It can cover my mortgage payment and some of the utilities, but that’s it. If not for a nice severance package and my savings and investments, I would be in serious trouble and definitely could not keep my home (while selling it quickly would be quite a challenge nowadays).

On the other hand, it discourages me from even trying something less conventional, e.g. getting a temporary contract for a couple months in another city, since I would not save much over that time and might still be jobless for months afterwards, but without the benefits. I can only imagine that people with average incomes who get unemployment benefits equaling half of their previous pay, but without any FICA taxes or commuting costs, have a much stronger incentive not to work until the benefits run out, especially if due to falling demand for some of their skills new jobs are likely to pay somewhat less. The system really needs to be overhauled.

The political system also needs to be overhauled. We should scrap the primaries and start from scratch. We may eventually come up with a similar system, but first we must acknowledge fully that the grandiose experiment in democratizing the nomination process has completely failed (does anybody think for a moment that in the bad old days of smoke-filled rooms Christine O’Donnell would be nominated for Senate in Delaware, even if the smoke in the room was from some illegal substance?!).

Special interests (often amounting to little more than a handful of politically active billionaires) manipulate the primaries and exercise a chokehold on both parties. This results in a situation where we have the worst economic and unemployment crisis since the Great Depression, but neither party cares at all about either the economy or the jobs, while each party is obsessed with ideology. Let’s review the tape.

President Obama was inaugurated four months after the start of the financial crisis. He had plenty of time to revise his priorities and come up with some new plan. But what did he actually do? He did his best to just ignore the crisis and instead he focused mostly on his pre-existing ideological priorities – such as universal health care and global warming. Sure, both are important issues, but neither was an immediate crisis.

Obama just claimed – quite implausibly (e.g. does anybody really think that raising energy prices is a sure way to improve a fragile economy?) – that tacking those issues would help solve the crisis. Sure, he also had a half-hearted stimulus. But it was very ineffective, since the bulk of it financed either pre-existing priorities of congressional Democrats or the priorities of special interests, such as public sector unions. Furthermore, Obama did some damage to the economy by circumventing bankruptcy laws to reward his allies in UAW. Now he finally promises to present a jobs plan – after he comes back from vacation.

The Democrats’ insouciance about the economy and jobs created an opening for Republicans who seized the opportunity and took control of the House of Representatives. But did they proceed to advance serious proposals to improve the economy and create jobs? No! They immediately started fighting for their own pre-existing ideological priorities, such as smaller government. Nothing wrong with it, but that’s not exactly what’s on my mind most of the time.

Furthermore, all that unusually fierce fighting led to a debt downgrade and destabilized the markets – just as I have to keep selling my stocks and bonds in order to pay the bills. There will be consequences. In the last decade I donated at least several thousand dollars to various Republican causes. This decade, Republicans can forget about it (they should count themselves lucky if I still vote for them). Let them solicit donations from those whose economic interests they represent. That’s certainly not me.

And so it looks like neither political party is going to offer solutions any time soon. The unemployed just have to wait until at least 2013. The problem is, I can’t wait till 2013.

Recent Posts by Andrew Pavelyev



57 Comments so far ↓

  • Breggers

    I stopped reading when you said that you went ahead with a 25 day honeymoon after having been out of work for 4-5 months. Lost any sympathy I might have had right then and there. And you still complain about unemployment insurance?

    • PracticalGirl

      I had the same reaction. A few other things that have me scratching my head:

      “Unemployment insurance is not well designed…The cap is low, and I get less in a week than I used to earn in a day.”

      Sure. But do you have any idea how expensive a dollar-for-dollar income insurance policy would cost? I mean, as somebody who has played an economist. And followed by this…

      “It can cover my mortgage payment and some of the utilities, but that’s it.”

      I think that’s the very point of unemployment insurance: Subsistence. Like everybody collecting, you make your own choices as to how you spend it. Congratulations for your ability to protect an asset.

      “I don’t even know whether with employer attitudes like that I should still bother applying for any quantitative finance positions – I don’t have any experience in that field…”

      combined with this

      “…it discourages me from even trying something less conventional, e.g. getting a temporary contract for a couple months in another city, since I would not save much over that time and might still be jobless for months afterwards, but without the benefits.”

      No benefits, of course, besides the much larger $$ that often come with contracts vs employment and, well, possible valuable experience gained that you say you need for permanent employment.

      I feel for your situation, Andrew, but anybody who can say (with a straight face) that much of your experience is typical, then go on to talk about a European honeymoon, a home you can keep and the ability to “keep selling my stocks and bonds to pay the bills” doesn’t have a clue about what is “typical” in America.

      • drdredel

        ^+1
        And I’d like to add (not to pile on) that if you have as much understanding of the situation as you seem to, it is somewhat confusing why you would expect the government to have much influence in how long it takes you to find a job. The government *might (and that asterisk is very important there) have some influence over how to get people with relatively low skill sets back to work. eg. People that can build roads, or file papers at the DMV or join the military. Your skills are obviously very particular so it’s hard to imagine what the government can do to rapidly boost the sector that needs you.
        I do wish you the best of luck, of course, and hope you’re employed soon, but you should consider that your position is highly unique and you should avoid making too many conclusions about fundamental systemic reforms based on it.

        Of course it’s easy to agree that both parties are deep in the pockets of various corporate interests, but you (and the various people that keep voting for republicans) are entirely to blame for this, since it is squarely Republican activism that keeps equating corporations with individuals and siding with the corporations’ ability to, basically, buy what they want from politicians, corrupting the system further and further.
        As per always, how such moves are “conservative” boldly defies the imagination.

  • D Furlano

    No one in Washington or on wall street gives a sh*t about you.

    And I find this situation very depressing and it causes me a lot of anxiety.

  • Graychin

    This is a much different view of unemployment than we usually hear about. It isn’t a 50-year-old factory worker whose job was eliminated and sent overseas by Mitt Romney. It isn’t about a family losing their home. Instead it’s about the proposal at the Eiffel Tower, the big wedding, the honeymoon in Europe, and weekending in Vegas and on the Shore during the job search.

    Take heart, sir – Mitt Romney is unemployed too. He speaks for you.

    (Why does the phrase “out of touch elitist” keep popping into my head? Is this a repost from The Onion?)

    • drdredel

      ^+1
      He does say at the start that his description is about to get highly atypical, but then he seems to forget all about this and starts to make all sorts of conclusions as though he and Joe Schmoe from Chrysler are exactly in the same boat.

  • balconesfault

    It can cover my mortgage payment and some of the utilities, but that’s it.

    Then it sounds like extending unemployment benefits has been very useful, since it’s probably kept a lot of people in houses and thus prevented the housing market from deteroriating even further.

    I can only imagine that people with average incomes who get unemployment benefits equaling half of their previous pay, but without any FICA taxes or commuting costs, have a much stronger incentive not to work until the benefits run out, especially if due to falling demand for some of their skills new jobs are likely to pay somewhat less. The system really needs to be overhauled.

    Cool. How about you tell us how you’d overhaul it?

    President Obama was inaugurated four months after the start of the financial crisis. He had plenty of time to revise his priorities and come up with some new plan. But what did he actually do? He did his best to just ignore the crisis and instead he focused mostly on his pre-existing ideological priorities – such as universal health care and global warming.

    Cough cough … bullshit.

    What’s the first thing that Obama did? Oh – he pushed through probably as big a stimulus bill as was politically achievable.

    Meanwhile, there is a huge amount of investment capital that’s been sitting on the sidelines for two years because the country won’t pass a comprehensive climate change bill. The number of jobs in renewable energy technologies, in carbon capture and sequestration technologies, in alternative fuel vehicles, in power transmission, that would result from passage of such a bill are staggering. Thanks to the GOP, spending has been on hold, since investment decisions depend on knowing what the final structure of the carbon market will be.

    Obama just claimed – quite implausibly (e.g. does anybody really think that raising energy prices is a sure way to improve a fragile economy?) – that tacking those issues would help solve the crisis.

    Ironically, I do believe that raising energy prices would help our economy. Because fossil-fuel powered energy is too often a substitute for labor. And because higher energy costs will encourage spending on technologies to reduce energy consumption.

  • Nanotek

    balconesfault + 1

    “And so it looks like neither political party is going to offer solutions any time soon. The unemployed just have to wait until at least 2013. The problem is, I can’t wait till 2013.” AP

    do you vote Republican ? reap the winds?

    • Bulldoglover100

      Oh you can wait LOL you may have to give up the Vegas jaunts and week ends at the shore but I have a feeling your going to be humbled quite soon when reality hits the pocket book after the stocks and bonds run out. Employers are not looking for people like you any longer. They are looking for the best educated, cheapest, help they can hire. That isn’t you.

  • Primrose

    Well, I do understand the Honeymoon bit because early on in this sort of unemployment one doesn’t understand how long it takes to get a new job, and if you have severance you think you are fine.

    I do weary though of the idea that unemployment makes it too easy for people to not work. Yes, you can’t take temporary work because then you wouldn’t get the coverage. That’s an easy fix. Permit a suspension of benefits not a canceling with this kind or work, or even temporary day jojobs so that getting work actually extends the time you can be covered. So if you are typically covered for 9 months and you get a series of small jobs that add up to three months, then you are covered for a year (not paid when you work of course). That would motivate people to work, and permit them to have long enough to find a good stable job.

    But why is this always the Dems problem. Why does a crisis caused by Republican policies and a Republican president always be the Dems responsibility to fix? We aren’t even allowed to say their policies which caused it are proven wrong.

    Nonsense.

    • PracticalGirl

      ‘That’s an easy fix. Permit a suspension of benefits not a canceling with this kind or work, or even temporary day jojobs so that getting work actually extends the time you can be covered.”

      +1. Especially in times of deep, lasting unemployment reasonable changes should be adopted to encourage those in the system to stay flexible and reduce their dependence upon unemployment while still retaining the ability to use it as a safety net. I can see some bureaucratic red tape in some of it, but it’s worth considering.

    • Diomedes

      “But why is this always the Dems problem. Why does a crisis caused by Republican policies and a Republican president always be the Dems responsibility to fix?”

      Because the Republican talking point for the past 30 years has been “government doesn’t work”. So everytime they get into power, they just prove it. Eventually, people get frustrated and vote the dems in again. But before they have the opportunity to make real reforms, the Republican spin machine goes into hyperdrive and voters are spoon-fed nonsense like ‘socialism’, ‘death panels’, ‘Muslim Keynan Extremist’. And like the sheeple that they are, they immediately back-track and vote in the same Republicans again.

  • ottovbvs

    “Unemployment insurance is not well designed (and if it was voluntary, I would not bother paying the premiums). The cap is low, and I get less in a week than I used to earn in a day. ……On the other hand, it discourages me from even trying something less conventional,”

    This guy is complaining he gets less unemployment in a week than he earned in a day BUT it discourages him from trying to find new job perhaps for a little less than he used to earn. Has anyone ever heard anything so completely stupid?

    Well they might not have done unless they’d read the previous paras about month long stays in Sorrento. Now I like the Amalfi coast as much as anyone, if fact I was in Positano three weeks ago, but I don’t think I’d have been there if I was an unemployed worker of this guy’s age. It would have a honeymoom week in Wisconsin instead. The sense of entitlement (not to mention immaturity) breathed by this little screed is unbelievable. And the blame is apparently mainly Obama’s for not passing a big enough stimulus package, not “being serious” about unemployment, and saving the auto industry from destruction. Where does Frum find these dopes from? Are these really the best and brightest of young conservatives?

  • valkayec

    Actually, I have some sympathy for the author. Many I know in Silicon Valley felt the same after being laid off. They failed to realize how deep this recession was and how long it would take to get back to “normal.” But they weren’t alone. No one really understood how deep it was back in 2009, let alone in late ’08.

    Yes, it’s true most politicians, politicos, and pundits have ignored the unemployed, the plight of the middle class, and the growing numbers of the desperately poor. But, then, the political class, by and large, are quite wealthy and most of those with whom they associate are wealthy. They live in a world apart as do most who have high dollar jobs. This circumstance is the result of years of manipulation and aggression against campaign finance laws that enable the wealthy to finance the wealthy or finance those who would play to the tune of the wealthy to become wealthy and powerful.

    Mr Pavelyev and I may disagree on many political ideas, but I suspect we can agree that the American economy has dramatically changed over the course of the last 20 or so years. As a result, we need new ideas and more “out of the box” creative thinking than DC seems capable of doing. I agree that the unemployment system needs changing. I’d like to see something along the lines of what Germany did. Even the new Georgia unemployment plan is a step forward. But even those steps are not enough when people are stuck with underwater houses and cannot afford to move to another region where jobs may exist. Right now, I’m not seeing any creative, new vision from the political class…which I believe is completely out of touch with the reality in which most middle Americans live as a result of their isolation from average Americans.

    • ottovbvs

      ‘Actually, I have some sympathy for the author.”

      You find this reasoning sound?

      “Unemployment insurance is not well designed (and if it was voluntary, I would not bother paying the premiums). The cap is low, and I get less in a week than I used to earn in a day. ……On the other hand, it discourages me from even trying something less conventional,”

      • valkayec

        No. I said I have some sympathy for the author because this is probably the first time in his life that he’s had to deal with a hard reality. Think about all those 20 and 30 somethings that went from school to a job, making fairly good money, then suddenly the bottom dropped out. They thought they’d have a new job in days or weeks. That they were wonderful and employers would jump at a chance to hire them. So, they played at first. Then after months and months of unemployment, reality set in.

        And the unemployment system does need to be redesigned. I do not agree with the author’s political statements or his adolescent whining. But the system itself does not serve the unemployed well. It forces the unemployed to sit around letting their skills rust and offers almost no encouragement to increase one’s skills or improve one’s opportunities. That’s why I say the German system is much better.

        • ottovbvs

          “It forces the unemployed to sit around letting their skills rust a”

          I don’t see how it “forces” them sit around and let their skills rust. Would you like to explain exactly how they are compelled to sit around at home and not seek employment? I’ve only been fired once in my life (thankfully) and the first thought across my mind was to find another job. Quite honestly I don’t have a cents worth of sympathy with this guy. His sense of entitlement, general immaturity and attempts to put the principal political responsibility on the Democrats was astounding. Really in the context of job creation does this comment make any sense whatsoever?:

          “Furthermore, Obama did some damage to the economy by circumventing bankruptcy laws to reward his allies in UAW.”

        • valkayec

          Come on, Otto, you know very well that spending 10 hours each day looking for non-existent work does not necessarily keep your professional or technical skills from rusting. Why do you think employers are now stating they won’t hire anyone who is either unemployed or is only recently (a couple of weeks) unemployed? Moreover, in many people’s cases now, the jobs they once had no longer exist. They need retraining, but the system provides little help or encouragement to retrain. And little help or assistance towards getting it.

        • Primrose

          Well skills can need jumpstarting but I don’t think unemployment insurance is the reason. While I am all for retraining, that takes time. A lot of it.

          To be even as simple a thing as a certified phlebotomist takes a semester, to be an ultra-sound tech 2-4 yrs, if you have school already. To be a nurse 4 years, plus a number of pre-courses if you hadn’t taken enough science and that is all if you get in a program. A friend of mine with high grades from Cornell and a grad degree from Columbia and numerous internships, could only get into one nursing program.

          Learning to be a system administrator is usually a college degree though it possible one of those deVry program does it in 2. Construction is down so all those votech jobs are out.

          I’m just not sure what people can re-train as in the short run of unemployment.

          But do explain what this German program consists of.

  • Frumplestiltskin

    balcone, good job.
    On the other hand, it discourages me from even trying something less conventional
    But you would only be taking a job from someone who is more fit for that job, abandoning it the first chance you get. You might think our society benefits if a top notch computer engineer is cutting grass, I don’t.

  • Arms Merchant

    Try this site. Lots of stats and ideas that work, and you can implement most of them yourself for free. Mark is the real deal.

    http://www.jobbait.com/targeting/index.html

    Got my first of two offers four months after layoff in late 2009, the second three weeks later. I’ve been employed since then.

    BTW, this works for everyone from the janitor to the CEO.

  • Michigan Outsider

    Why do you need someone to speak for you? What you needed was someone to speak to you about some basic finance principles and about personal responsibility.

    For example, given the exchange rate, I would think that airfare and 25 days in Europe would be worth at least 3 (and probably a couple more) months of bare boned living expenses that an unemployed person should be incurring.

    Or, maybe, since unemployment insurance covers those basics, that great honeymoon could have become the investment capital for your own business that you could start in your home and then expand into something bigger in a few years. You could probably do all of the work to get that started and even run that nascent business a few months while still quite legally collecting unemployment compensation.

    There are plenty of people to whom I feel a great deal of sympathy about their current economic situation. I feel sympathetic toward you because you are looking around for someone to do something for you instead of doing it yourself. Given what I can glean from your background, you should be able to do something for yourself. Go figure it out and do it.

  • rbottoms

    Two words;

    iPhone

    Objective-C

    That is all.

  • Chris Balsz

    So don’t wait for 2013. Announce your candidacy for the Republican presidential nomination and set up a campaign fund. Your living expenses will be campaign costs, you’ll network like never before, and best of all some millionaires will start working fulltime to find you a six-digit sinecure if you’ll drop out and endorse Romney.

    I find that slightly less crazy than saying “I am an (job title), even if I haven’t worked for 2 years.”

    Glad your marriage is a rock. That’s more important than anything you’d have earned the last twelve months.

  • SteveT

    All the people actually suffering out there and THIS is what is posted as their story?

    Of course, he’s right. His unemployment isn’t enough, but those low income workers theirs is TOO much. Keeps them from working you know. Lazy stiffs.

    I rarely say this, but Andrew I wish you the absolute worst. You deserve it.

  • Houndentenor

    Oh boo effing hoo!

    No, it’s not as much money as you make having a job. Duh! And if you were making in a day what you got on unemployment for a week (in NY that used to cap at about $400), then you should have been putting away some money for just this kind of emergency. Then you went on your honeymoon (I’ll let that one slide) but there were other trips as well. You can go to Vegas but you complain about money? What kind of idiot goes on vacation when they have no job and less than 20% of their former income?

    I was unemployed for four weeks in the spring of 2009. (It seems like longer but it wasn’t.) I cut my expenses to the bare minimum and focused my energy on finding a new job. Fortunately my agency came through although it meant going back to a place where I had worked the year before at a 10% pay cut. I was glad to get it. My sister took a 65% pay cut to find a new job. Times are tough. Are you just how figuring that out?

    Seriously, David, where do you find the entitled morons who right some of this crap on your site? Try finding someone whose problems aren’t mostly self-inflicted for a change.

    • balconesfault

      Seriously, David, where do you find the entitled morons who right some of this crap on your site?

      FWIW, I believe that it’s you (and other commentors) who are trying to “right some this crap” on the site.

      • Houndentenor

        LOL. That’s what I get for multi-tasking. write write write. Damn, there’s no edit function on this site.

  • tohojo

    Scary that even the 6 figure earners aren’t being listened to by the GOP- the new bar seems to be 7 figure minimum (at that point you can just dump it all into stocks and pay the 15% aristocracy rate instead of the top wage earner 36% rate).

  • Chris Balsz

    What’s with all the hate? It’s not like he hurts anybody (but himself, probably) or does anything illegal. There’s not one thing in my life I can point to and say “That’s what did it – it’s that bastard Pavelyev!” Sheesh, can’t we disapprove of each other’s lives without anger or malice?

    • SteveT

      Chris:

      In my case my anger is that this article will be used as an example of why not to help people. Extend unemployment ect. Also, the author himself looks down at people earning an average salary who might be tempted to not take a job because they are living well enough on their unemployment, unlike himself who makes less in a day on UI than he made it a week.

      These are the exact arguments used to justify cutting benefits for the poor. In Andrew’s case he’s right. He shouldn’t be getting benefits.

    • Primrose

      In regards to the Honeymoon, I agree with you. He assumed he’d be back at work soon. Most of it was probably paid for and understanding that you will be out of work for a long time is hard to adjust to. The other trips I am portray a less sympathetic picture, unless they were family obligations.

      Family don’t seem to get it in that department. I well remember my father-in-law getting remarried and expecting us (3 plus baby) to just fly down. We were a 6 weeks away from the last of the severance, unemployment would pay our mortgage and nothing else, we had a small baby and small child so I didn’t have a job and the freelance work was not flowing. But the thought that we might limit who came or have problems was not received with good graces. So we all went, using up the last of our airline miles since it was a holiday weekend, paying for a hotel and car we could ill afford.

      So I can even buy that there might even be more to the story, but it is kind of hard to swallow a hard-luck story when the teller has inadequate sympathy for those worse off than he and that i think is what people are reacting to.

      • Banty

        There comes a point where you tell family you can’t go visit. I did, especially with divorced parents each having moved at least 1000 miles away, to cities 1000 miles apart, I’d spend more than my allotted vacation money and time every years with these quasi-obligational visits they perceived. One way around it all is you start inviting them to come visit you. Either they visit (yay! you make extra for dinner, but you don’t have to $$$$pay the plane tickets and $$board the pets!), or, if they have to turn that down, they’re less likely to bug you in the future about how you should just up and visit them all the time.

        Yeah wedding I know how people are about that. It’s still ungracious to expect everyone to go given your situation.

        BTDT.

        • Primrose

          You find they are less likely to bug you when you invite them? Not us. No matter how many times we explain that there are four of us and 1-2 of them, plus they don’t have enough space, or anything for the kids to do, we get the guilt. They feel that they did this for their parents so of course we must make the same decisions.

          All to say, family are not always reasonable or willing to understand your reality.

  • Oldskool

    Me no comprende. Just within the last two days, someone was on the news talking about how hard it is to find people knowledgable in the IT field.

    They immediately started fighting for their own pre-existing ideological priorities, such as smaller government. Nothing wrong with it, but…

    Yeah, I think there’s plenty wrong with that. You can bet that any time Obama tries to get a job bill passed, it’ll incite the usual ranting and raving from the usual corkheads.

    • Bulldoglover100

      We must remember when we vote that the Republicans decided that beating Obama was more important to them than the people they serve.

    • drdredel

      I don’t think he’s in IT, I think he’s an analyst of some sort. It’s absolutely true that anyone worth any salt in IT is not just employed but actively being recruited day and night by someone offering them more money.

  • MSheridan

    While I have a fair amount of sympathy with the viewpoints of the other posters here on this, I know a lot of young people and this piece is not that out of the ordinary.

    Andrew, the best advice I can give you is to save this op-ed (on paper) and put in an envelope marked “to be opened upon my eldest’s 18th birthday”. I think it might give you a lot more empathy for your (hypothetical future) kids if you are reminded you also once thought the world owed you a comfortable and above-average living.

  • laingirl

    This post was very interesting, but not in a good way, and I agree with most of the comments. First, unemployment percentages for degreed individuals are much lower than they are for people without degrees. It occurs to me that Mr. Pavelyev’s attitude may be a major reason why he hasn’t found another job that meets his needs. He didn’t mention much about his job search, which leads me believe that he did not approach his search correctly, wrongly thinking so much of himself that a good job would just fall in his lap; so much so that he didn’t make any effort for months.

    My best friend, who lives in California, lost his job in November, 2010, and, while he felt sorry for himself for a couple of weeks, he did not apply for UI, and spend considerably time assessing his skills, networking with friends and acquaintances, speaking with headhunters and crafting a good resume. He also spent one day a week volunteering. He sent out his first resumes in late April, 2011; in early July he was offered a job (which he heard about from a young man who had worked for him several year before), which he accepted. After he received the job offer, he received another offer and calls from several other companies that were interested in him. It is a good job, paying in excess of $200,000/yr. before bonus. He is a degreed 55 year old man (an age that some companies won’t consider), who got a job by working smartly and hard for it.

  • Bulldoglover100

    As someone who works every Thursday for my Church on the Board who pays the utilities for those unemployed due to the horrible economy I find it really hard to feel for someone who still goes on vacations, went to Rome for a month after he lost his job and feels he is a real “job hunter” in between his jaunts to Vegas LOL Your living in the REAL world now Bub and you had best get use to it because it is going to get worse before it gets better and your pity factor? is non existent. When you have to go to the church for food to eat? Then I would feel pity for your plight you appear to have made worse all on your own.

  • Diomedes

    I often wonder why some individuals have such difficulty in finding employment when they have a fairly decent skill set and requisite scholastic accollades.

    A friend of mine was laid off back in 2009 and he is STILL looking for work. This is an individual with a Bachelors in Electrical Engineering and an MBA, both from decent schools. Yet despite his best efforts, he cannot seem to land a good position. Either he simply is a bad interviewer or has just been unemployed for so long that his skill set has atrophied.

    He did make several mistakes during his career. Spent far too much time chasing the ‘next startup’ looking for the big win, instead of binding his time and working at a more established company. And that does hurt you after a while. If your resume is filled with several startups that nobody has ever heard of, it carries less weight that a resume with staple names like Microsoft, Oracle, Google and so forth.

    • Primrose

      First off, they say it is an extra month for every 10,000 you need in salary, though I think there is a base somewhere in that. That certainly proved true for my husband. Second, we are all taught it is about merit and resume. It isn’t. It is about networking baby. Some people have good networks some don’t. In a bad economy, the value of networks diminishes since the “system” gets overloaded. And not everybody knows how to ask people to look for them without seeming like they are trying to use you. When entire industries go down, so to networks.

    • Banty

      “He did make several mistakes during his career. Spent far too much time chasing the ‘next startup’ looking for the big win, instead of binding his time and working at a more established company. And that does hurt you after a while. If your resume is filled with several startups that nobody has ever heard of, it carries less weight that a resume with staple names like Microsoft, Oracle, Google and so forth.”

      Too much moving around is a red flag. The prospective employer looks at that, and wonders if it’s a case of someone not succeeding, or it’s someone looking to boost up salary via job change every couple of years. Neither is appetizing.

  • rbottoms

    You don’t know Java? No problem! Are you at least willing to learn?” A couple weeks ago I got a call about a PhD level position which overall looked like a good a fit. The HR screener asked me how much SAS experience I had, and when I replied “light”, that was it – they wanted intermediate or advanced.

    Guess what nimrod, ten years ago companies had to train.

    Now if you don’t have the exact skill they pick from the other 2500 applicants who do.

    • Banty

      Except that they complain that they can’t find exactly what they need amongst the 2500 applicants, and say we should allow more H1B visas.

      Then they *train* the H1Bs when they’re hired.

      I kid you not. Watched it before my very eyes. It’s one of the ways they’re just using the situation to fry the fish they’ve always wanted to fry.

      But there is indeed a lot of particularity also aside from that going on right now. Every hiring manager has manager above him, every headhunter, has a client, asking for the impossibly perfect fit, thinking the pickings will be easy. There’s even a term for it “purple squirrels”. They want the squirrel in 2500 (actually mythical), that is purple. With so many people out of work, why can’t that hiring manager or headhunter find that purple squirrel.

      They wait, and they wait, then they finally look for a decent fit, then train.

      BTW this inspired me to brush up my SAS skills…

  • anniemargret

    I’m a public librarian. Every week hundreds of people come to the library to use the Internet computers to search for jobs or create their resumes. Some cannot afford to purchase computers. Others have had to downsize economically, and gave up their Internet access at home. Others come to take free computer classes to brush up on their computer skills, and some…sad to say, have no computer skills or minimally.

    People are coming from all socio-economic age groups. Teachers, IT professionals, CPAs, salesmen and sales managers, marketing specialists, and yes, those from the science professions, blue collar workers with decades of excellent skills and experience.

    Laid off, and facing an end to their unemployment benefits. They cannot afford to purchase healthcare insurance for their families, struggling to keep up the mortgage payments, help with their childrens’ education.

    The worst of it to see them so completely in despair and demoralized. Exhausted. Coming in every day, struggling to keep filling in those job applications, joining networking sites, asking for recommendations. I can see the fear in their eyes.

    They send out hundreds of applications, may be they hear from one or two. If they’re lucky. They become disenchanted. Who wouldn’t? Many with advanced degrees are seeking blue collar work, anything…clerical, etc…just to get a job. There is no light at the end of the tunnel they are looking down.

    They are good people. Good hard-working American people caught in a terrible business of indifference and an economic crisis. While I sympathize (to a point) with the writer, his experience PALES in comparison to what I see every day, every week.

    And this is multiplying. The DC crowd hasn’t a clue. Most of them are wealthy, safe and have the safety nets they need for themselves and their families. Most of them did not have to work themselves up from the bottom up. Sometimes it can be done.

    Sometimes no matter how hard a person works, it can’t be done. The law of chance and luck prevails over pluck.

    Take pity on them. We all know someone – in our family, our friends, our communities. It can be us any time. We need LEADERs in DC, not these fools with mega-horns dishing out idiocy.

    We need smart people. I will vote again for Obama. If he runs with Hillary, I would vote with even more enthusiasm. I will never again vote Republican in my lifetime. They have not learned anything.

    • Polifan

      Agree! Love that you’re a librarian. Thought ‘teacher.’

      I would vote for a Republican but not any of the current crop (maybe Huntsman).

      Ask some of the Congressmen to share some of the stories of the folks they represent. They are well aware of many of those stories and I still believe that many are very compassionate (regardless of the letter of their party).

      • anniemargret

        Thank you, Polifan.

        Huntsman is impressive. I watched him tonight in an interview on CNN. He speaks articulately and in many cases, wisely. I disliked his answer about working the President, saying he thought he was an ‘earnest man’ but emphasizing he and Obama did not have a ‘personal relationship.’ I thought it would have enhanced his image if he had the courage to say that he and President may not always agree on policy issues, but that he was amiable enough to work with him and for the country…No need to emphasize that he no ‘personal relationship…’ that was simply red meat for the wing crowd; mustn’t ever let anyone think he could work with the opposition.

        But the inherent deep-seated problem for the GOP is that no matter how intelligent they sound, or articulate a willingness to assist the country over party, the GOP in its present mutated state would never allow it. After all, Huntsman might have to admit that sometimes progressives get it right. And then he would get the heave-ho.

        Good luck hoping and wishing for your best of the best in the GOP. Right now…it looks pretty dim for them.

    • Bunker555

      ^+1 annie

      “I will never again vote Republican in my lifetime.”

      I think thousand of people are joining you every day, including me.

  • Argy F

    I wish the author of the article the best of luck.

    I wish all the unemployed the very best of luck, but I am not optimistic in the short term.

    I agree with the point of the article to an extent. Certainly, I believe lack of jobs and lack of aggregate demand is the real, immediate problem but I don’t believe it was as obvious back in January 09. In fact, most politicians running for office won’t even admit this today – all they talk about is deficits, debt, cutting govn spending, etc.

    Long term unemployment is always heart rending. When so many among us are in this situation today – it is even more so.

    But it is certainly unfair, if you ask me – to place the blame equally. That is in effect, the same as saying no ideas are bad, no ideas are good, all ideas are equal.

    Voices have been crying from day one – day one – that the stimulus wasn’t big enough, that we needed more govn spending etc… Other voices claimed or continue to claim that govn should “stay out of it” and do nothing. Other voices claim the situation doesn’t call for govn spending in the classic sense – but govn spending by cutting corporate tax. Still others argue that eliminating the EPA would be the solution to our economic crisis.

    Those ideas that are incorrect should be judged to be so! The job of anyone evaluating the circumstance should ALWAYS be to determine – which ideas were wrong, which were right THEN and which are wrong and which are right NOW. Action or inaction should proceed accordingly.

    Unfortunately – IF – government ACTION is the correct course – both branches must be in agreement on that fact AND must be in agreement on the action needed. Otherwise good will must allow some to concede and agree to allow action they don’t believe is correct.

    IF – on the other hand -government INACTION is the correct course – disagreement will yield the correct results because without a super majority in the Senate, majority in the house and control of the Executive – nothing will happen without that aforementioned good will.

  • jorae

    …”[President Obama ]… did his best to just ignore the crisis and instead he focused mostly on his pre-existing ideological priorities – such as universal health care and global warming” Per Mr. Pavelyev…

    President Barack Obama signed his $787 billion economic stimulus package into law Tuesday – February 2009

    The plan started less than one month after he took office…

    There seemed to be plenty of Business tax breaks for companies that could have played along and opened up jobs

    You need to appreciate just how much your ‘brothern’ of the Republican party pulled together to make sure no Republican business owner would participate…It had to fail in order to have a one term president…

    The Republicans could have contributed with being behind it …but they didn’t.

    • jorae

      Andrew Pavelyev is a scientist specializing in mathematical modeling in medicine.

      The Stimulus…

      The National Institutes of Health (NIH) will receive $10 billion to underwrite medical research, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, heart disease, and stem cell research, as well as to improve NIH facilities. Prevention and wellness programs will receive $1 billion toward fighting preventable diseases and conditions. In addition, $1.1 billion will be dedicated to research into the comparative effectiveness of different health care services and treatment options.

      The jobs could have included you…but your Republican Corporate friends decided not to grab the gift horse…You deserve a Republican government.