On Being Un-Employed or Under-Employed
When one [young medical professional] works at a job for which he or she is overqualified, it is called underemployment. Being employed or even being underemployed beats being unemployed, any day. Since 2008, we have officially lost about 10 million jobs. These are often people who have families and children to support. As a nation, our first priority is to try and figure out how we can get all (or most) of these people back to being productively or gainfully employed before we can start considering how and when our economy will recover. The actions that the government should consider the most are also those that resolve this situation the soonest. Why so?
Consider the fact that we have lost what these 10 million people produced. The only reason we are not seeing price increases because of this shortage of production is simply because these same people and others are not spending or willing to spend at this point, and rightfully so. The upward spike in the personal savings rate since 2008 (from about 0% in 2006 to 6.4% today) is a vocal if implicit testimony to how scared most people are today about their economic well-being. These 10 million people have also lost their incomes and therefore their own abilities to consume as before. Their standards of living have declined significantly. The government does not receive the taxes from their income either and hence cannot plow it back into the economy. Everyone is losing here, all of us, because of this unemployment. That is why it is our priority, us common people, to figure out how to increase employment for those who need it badly to get out of their current dire straits and help our entire economy. Now is not the time to point fingers, expect government created economic miracles or to play politics for votes.
A Few Possibilities
Here are a few possibilities to consider. If you are unemployed and there is no suitable jobs for you, you have to find something (and if necessary compete for it) that you can do. It could be jobs to maintain people’s homes and yards, or to clean pools and wash cars, or to drive buses, or to become a janitor, or to become a city bike courier. It could be whatever you can do best other than what you were trained for if jobs are that rare in your field.
Remember, under current conditions, being underemployed is always preferable to being unemployed. No task should be (and is not) too menial, too mindless. Look around: How much does it cost every time you need a plumber or an electrician or another trades person at home? Why so? Compete here for these jobs. That helps everyone by adding value to the economy. Production at home (fixing whatever you can) and outside (fixing stuff for others), vegetable gardening if you have a little land, sewing, raising chicken for eggs, whatever value you can produce, do so!
Going abroad and trying your luck outside is another alternative. More and more Americans are seeking their new careers or fortunes in foreign land. Wherever, there are opportunities. In Brazil, Russia, India and China; of course! There are others like Canada, Australia or Vietnam. These economies have done much better than ours of late. Our skills could find greater value there – and why not? Foreigners have immigrated here through the centuries for similar opportunities as well. We are more experienced than all others on immigration – let’s use this experience to our advantage. Our emigration should go hand in hand with reduced immigration domestically as well. Nothing will deter immigrants (legal or illegal) from moving than the lack of opportunities; just like the reverse is true for emigrants. If you know anyone overseas or have done anyone outside any favors, call them in now. Now is the time to ask them to help you find a job in their country. Absolutely no shame here either.
Of Small Businesses [Private Medical Practices]
Another fact that we often forget – small businesses like private medical practices in our economy – are the largest employers of people. This is your time to support your local doctor, family practitioner, internist, or ‘Mom & Pop’ establishments whenever you can.
For example, sell any veggies you can grow in your local farmers’ markets and buy your needs from there as well. Now is the time for home-grown or small-scale production to organically spread and take a grassroots hold on employment, just like it has done many times before.
If you are so lucky to find a job, start with saving whatever you can. Your savings (investments) will not only generate jobs and help everyone else; it’ll help rebuild your assets. Only consumption spending impoverishes our future, including those of our children.
This time around, we need to work together to get out of this economic morass and stay out for a long time to come. The way out is by generating new jobs, vocations, opportunities. We need to accomplish this task any which way we can – and do so in a concerted effort. Only then can we begin to relax about our future.
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