However, if you graduate from college in 2005, the employment outlook for the year looks bright according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers. Manufacturing sectors predict a hiring increase of 12.9 percent, service sector plans a gain of 12.1 percent, and government/ nonprofit employers predict to hire 19.8 percent more college hires in 2005. The differences between hiring practices of fresh-graduates and the long-term unemployed professional is as vast as the gap in age between the competing groups.
you've got a good job and a good wage as a professional, and the next
minute you are worse off than you ever really were, and work 50-hours a
week at Jiffy Lube."
Gregory Kapp, Los Angeles
"Their prediction does not reflect what is real to me," said Trish Leahy of Nassau County, NY. "No wine or roses for me."
Leahy was a business services manager for IBM until outsourcing ended her team's role in 2003. "Maybe this 48-year-old broad should go back to school and learn cake-decorating, is that what I'm to believe now?" She earned her master's degree from Hofstra University in 1983 and "survived at IBM for 21 years after I graduated" in four different business units including; sales, software, and e-business consulting.
With her outstanding job applications approaching 2,000 in number, Leahy says her two years without a job is not from lack of applying. "But you reach a point when you ask yourself, okay, I have X-dollars left, no prospects for a new job, and a 14-year old daughter in her first year of high school.
"How do I even know that going back to school at this point will guarantee a new job?" Plus, she adds, a potential $120,000 student loan for a job that pays $8 per hour is "not only ridiculous, but a stupid business decision. I'd be paying the loan and collecting Social Security at the same time." Any financial gamble at this point is as ominous to Leahy as her hefty mortgage and property taxes which add up to $1,917 per month.
"Selling this place is the option this year , because the money will simply run out by October." She plans to put the house on the market in March and hopes she can walk away with about $80,000 cash on the three bedroom house she and her former husband bought in 1990. "I could extend my job search another two years on that money -- and with our economy of toilet water -- that is how much longer I'm thinking it will take." Leahy hopes to room-up with her sister to stay in her daughter's school district.
For professionals without a job, the only good news is a job offer. Even though New Years' media stories applaud the rosy job market prediction for 2005, it is not as promising for professionals as it is for college graduates. Fifty-nine percent of hiring managers expect no change in hiring practices of professionals in 2005, while 10 percent expect a decrease and 24 percent expect to increase. Employers in the southern U.S. predict the greatest increase in hires, according to a Manpower survey of 16,000 employers. Service-type and hourly-wage jobs continue to account for the greatest increase.
Of the past three recessions -- dating back to 1981 -- the current recession begun in 1Q01 fails to offer job growth compared with 1981 or 1990. The biggest employment gains come from service-sector jobs; while IT (technology) and manufacturing continue their string of years at net job loss. There are no accurate figures on the number of professionals out of work past 26 weeks of receiving unemployment benefits; nor is there a count on the number of professionals who lost their jobs, but who accepted hourly service jobs in order to make ends meet. All numbers are estimated by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and even so, the Bureau admits they are not truly reflective of what might be happening to professional men and women.
Meanwhile, the hunt for a job continues whether or not one agrees with a positive trend in the job market statistics.
"What is remarkable to me is the number of jobs available online, and yet these jobs just get refreshed -- are they filled?" said John Jackson from Philadelphia. Jackson says he'll apply for a job, he won't hear back, the job disappears from the board for two weeks and then it reappears as a new entry. "It is the same job, because I save all the descriptions. And it is impossible to get into temp[orary] agencies today -- they direct you to their website and basically hang-up in your ear."
The 41-year-old former administrative assistant says he's applied for nearly 3,000 jobs in the past two years and has only secured a six-month assignment through a temporary agency. "If my partner didn't have a job I do not know what I'd do. I'd have to move home with my family I guess." Jackson thinks his age works against him. "Who wants to hire a 40 year old, male administrative assistant no matter how successful I've been with my skills?"
On Wall Street, literally, in New York, a 28-year-old analyst did not agree that the job market is tough. "Look, anyone can find a job, you've got to work at it. I don't believe a chaz [man] can't find a job, I've never been without one -- they [jobs] are out there, you've got to go get one. Be proactive man," said Brian Rowe clipping his way past the Stock Exchange in route to his office at Merrill Lynch.
"How old did you say he was, 20-something?" Leahy asks while laughing out loud. "With his one comment he characterizes how out-of-touch people are with the real economy."
Worse yet, Leahy says that many hiring managers she's meet, who are Rowe's age, don't think twice about giving her a chance. "I think from their view it is poetic justice, they aren't mature enough to look at skills, they are counting the crows-feet on my face and sadistically getting even with their parents for a less-than-perfect upbringing."
Profiling hiring managers is not scientific. However, as the unemployment rate slowly declined in 2004 the Bureau of Labor Statistics says they improved their statistics by revising down the monthly household survey pool based only upon immigrants leaving the United States.
As part of its annual review of "intercensual" population estimates, the U.S. Census Bureau determined a downward adjustment to the household survey controls. The adjustment stems from revised estimates of a net loss of international migration for years 2000 through 2003. The update results in a decrease of 560,000 of the civilian population 16 years of age and older, 437,000 of whom are in the workforce. Were the 437,000 directly out of the "unemployment" pool? Their own data equates to 79 percent of these "immigrants" counting as fully-employed professionals, or nearly 10 percent more than the civilian workforce. The assumption would be that immigrants are more likely to have jobs than the general population.
The Bureau says that it does not know, although it is a given that immigrants don't usually count as professionals in the workforce, and that they, as a group, do not find jobs outside of off-the-record labor positions.
"Let's be real, the government is interested in looking like a good corporate partner, they certainly don't care about real numbers or people," said Jackson. The Bureau of Labor Statistics say more than 8 million remain unemployed at year end 2004, with 1.5 million additional workers "available" to work, but were unable to locate a position -- those workers are not counted as unemployed. When the Bureau of Labor Statistics numbers are released to the press, the unemployment rate in their table charts is actually 6.4 percent for 2004, although the official unemployment rate at year-end was 5.4 percent.
"Why would anyone expect the truth from a government that does whatever it can to hide the real numbers? What the hell is 'marginal' and 'seasonally adjusted'?" Leahy asks as she reads the latest report online. "Doesn't anyone see how easy it is to make up these numbers?" If the public was told the truth there might be greater awareness for the plight of job seekers, she said. "If corporate giants like IBM realize how serious their layoff practices are to the workforce, maybe they'd be pressured into rethinking layoffs."
Even with the Bureau of Labor Statistics' own admission, unemployed plus marginally attached workers were 9.4 percent at the close of 2004. "Okay, I can buy 9 percent unemployment rate," said Jackson as he reads the report, "So, why is this on the back page in tiny print? Why don't they just say it is 9 percent and not half of the total real number? What am I missing?"
Gregory Kapp doesn't monitor (nor care about) the Bureau's statitistics; he lost his job at Cisco Systems in 2004 and hit the job trail with an olympic sprint. "I targeted 26 companies I really wanted to work for, I found online mentors at those companies." As time wore on without a nibble, Kapp expanded his list each month to a final count of 600 companies ranging in size from small start-ups to the big guns like H-P and IBM. Kapp hired a resume writer and signed up for networking opportunities in Los Angeles.
"What I realize now is that my skills are basically obsolete," Kapp said. "The industry has automated what I did at Cisco for customers, so that only leaves me with my program management skills. Everyone has those." He says all a hiring manager has to do is look at his educational background -- which says he graduated from University of California at San Diego in 1986 -- and see "that I'm too old.
"They'll take someone who graduated in 2002, because they assume that guy is still in his 20s and will accept a rock-bottom wage." But Kapp says he'd take a low wage as well, "they simply do not care enough to look past their assumptions."
Kapp, 46, says he understands, now, why Cisco laid off his team, and he grew angry at Cisco after layoff for not providing retraining dollars or opportunities for employees on their way out the door --"They just put us out like the nightly garbage."
Working part-time as an automotive mechanic when he was a teenager, Kapp is contemplating returning to automotive work. "I think it just goes to show you how quickly life changes. One minute you've got a good job and a good wage as a professional, and the next minute you are worse off than you ever really were and work 50-hours a week at Jiffy Lube. Not only that, but you have nothing to show for your education or professional experience the closer I get to retirement."
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