America is Great, Just Not for Most People Who Work for a Living

despairThe never ending stream of bad news for the U.S. work force cascades upon us like a tidal wave of despair. A host of studies have come out which put into numbers what most of us know, the American worker is being taken to the brink of financial ruin and even death.

Suicide has replaced motor vehicle accidents as the leading cause of death by injury and has increased 15% since 2000. While most people who commit suicide has psychiatric disorders, the fact is higher incidents of suicide do happen during bad economic times. Even more amusing is the government response, as if the best cure for feelings of despair, low self worth is not a damn job along with a healthy dose of respect for working people.

Homeless rates have actually not changed between 2009-2011, but that's only due to a large grant by the Federal government to keep more people sheltered. Now that funds have run dry and under attack by deficit hawks, expect homeless numbers to rise.

Despite the fact that the number of homeless people was essentially unchanged between 2009 and 2011, there is much reason for concern. As this report points out, economic and demographic indicators linked to homelessness continue to be troubling. Homelessness is a lagging indicator, and the effects of the poor economy on the problem are escalating and are expected to continue to do so over the next few years.

The resources provided by HPRP have run out in many communities and the program will sunset entirely in the fall of 2012; despite the need and proven effectiveness these resources have not been replaced. Debt and deficit reduction at the federal level have begun to shrink assistance available to the most vulnerable.

In the year since the data in this report was collected (January 2011), there have already been reports that the number of homeless people is increasing. So while holding the line on homelessness between 2009 and 2011 was a major accomplishment of federal investment and local innovation, the failure to sustain this early recipe for success threatens to undermine progress now and in the future.

We have a huge problem. Americans are absolutely desperate for decent paying jobs. Economists call what's going on jobless recoveries. They run mathematical equations and models, with many trying to obfuscate the obvious. We need good paying jobs. Economists call what's going on job polarization, meaning jobs for the middle class are literally being wiped out. We won't hear them mention the obvious, offshore outsourcing and use of foreign guest worker Visas as being a major cause of the hollowing out of American jobs. Nope, these various studies refuse to mention the O word. You also won't hear about corporations using recessions as an excuse to offshore outsource even more jobs. Yet, that's in part what is happening.

The below figure is from a NBER research paper, The Trend is the Cycle: Job Polarization and Jobless Recoveries. What the graph shows is the percent change in jobs per occupation type for the last 30 years. The researchers utilized previous work which categorized jobs as routine and not. Additionally jobs are classified as brain jobs and brawn jobs. Brain jobs are cognitive, and brawn jobs are physical, ones require manual labor. Manufacturing by it's nature has many routine and manual jobs. Economics, we hope, involves cognitive skills. Routine jobs are ones which rely on exact instruction. Waiting tables is not routine for one is interacting with other people. Below is the change in jobs by these classifications.

occupations chg

Routine and repetitive exacting instruction types of work means that job can be automated through technological advances and can also be a target for increased productivity. Additionally, a job which is routine and has little interaction with the American public can easily be offshore outsourced. This is actually really bad news for often one must start out in these sorts of jobs to learn the ropes of the trade, so to speak.

Another research paper, which, well, let's just say their conclusions are a bit ridiculous, ignore foreign guest workers and the general labor arbitrage of professionals. Yet contained within the paper are statistics which show the same thing as above. Middle class jobs are being hollowed out. Below is their categorization of jobs and let's just ignore that U.S. professionals are being displaced by foreign guest workers and extremely vulnerable to offshore outsourcing for the moment.

occupation salaries

One reason high skilled and low skilled jobs were still around in the States is because the work requires face to face contact. In other words, the more back office a position is, the more routine it is, the more vulnerable that job is to being offshored. Now this is a ridiculous study on it's face, since we know there are literally millions of college educated Americans unable to find a job and the study tries to imply income inequality is the result of these workers being paid too much. Complete garbage unless one wants to look at hedge fund managers and the executive class. That said, their statistics taken from the BLS show something quite frightening, the hollowing out of middle class jobs. These are the middle jobs, ones considered stepping stones up the ladder, yet still require routine work in their execution and not interaction with other U.S. businesses and U.S. customers.

job growth by skill

What all of this research shows is good old fashioned work that doesn't require you to be Einstein or chanting do you want fries with that, is being obliterated in America.

There was a most interesting article in the New York Times which exposed NASSCOM, the India offshore outsourcing industry's public relations campaign to get American jobs. I kid you not, the BPO industry requires our jobs to survive and corporations to politicians have been more than happy to accommodate them.

Kiran Karnik, the former president of India’s best-known pressure group, the National Association of Software and Services Companies, or Nasscom, was in a position to write a deep and revealing book. But he chose not to make enemies so late in his life. In fact, “The Coalition of Competitors” is largely about how Nasscom used its public relations skills to create the myth of Indian software genius and influenced government policy and journalism to favor the Indian software industry.

What's really disgusting here is corporate America bought, hook, line and sinker somehow India magically produced golden geniuses and all Americans were fruit from the poisonous tree. Here's the reality, Science and Technology are difficult subjects and not everyone can do it.

Beneath the surface of what is considered gleaming Indian talent is an ocean of unemployable graduates. Even a habitually inoffensive man like Mr. Karnik does not hide the fact that India’s software industry found the quality of Indian graduates so poor that they considered only 25 percent of engineering graduates and 15 percent of other graduates employable.

If the sale of people isn't bad enough for the U.S. worker, take heart women of Science, no matter how hard you work, you will be considered less than your male counterparts. A new study shows in 2012, we have brazen gender bias.

Despite efforts to recruit and retain more women, a stark gender disparity persists within academic science. Abundant research has demonstrated gender bias in many demographic groups, but has yet to experimentally investigate whether science faculty exhibit a bias against female students that could contribute to the gender disparity in academic science.

In a randomized double-blind study (n = 127), science faculty from research-intensive universities rated the application materials of a student—who was randomly assigned either a male or female name—for a laboratory manager position. Faculty participants rated the male applicant as significantly more competent and hireable than the (identical) female applicant.

These participants also selected a higher starting salary and offered more career mentoring to the male applicant. The gender of the faculty participants did not affect responses, such that female and male faculty were equally likely to exhibit bias against the female student.

Mediation analyses indicated that the female student was less likely to be hired because she was viewed as less competent. We also assessed faculty participants’ preexisting subtle bias against women using a standard instrument and found that preexisting subtle bias against women played a moderating role, such that subtle bias against women was associated with less support for the female student, but was unrelated to reactions to the male student.

These results suggest that interventions addressing faculty gender bias might advance the goal of increasing the participation of women in science.

The above study doesn't even touch upon the actual work place, where stark employment numbers clearly show discrimination against women.

One of the more subtle consequences of the peddling and productization of people by national origin, age and sex is the mentality that only the super smart need apply for jobs. Do we really want to say that one must be a genius to simply earn a decent paycheck? Does that seem like quality of life to you? If you say yes, watch out for a stroke or a car accident for one day your money maker maybe splattered all over the sidewalk and then where would you be. Expecting all to master the universe just to make a decent living exposes America's broken contract and promise to her people.

Yet in spite of the increasingly dire statistics and evidence, U.S. corporations are still looking to offshore outsource even more jobs, bring in even more foreign guest workers and labor arbitrage Americans even further. Apple for example thinks Chinese Foxconn slave labor is great, until there is a riot.

The incident began when workers started brawling with security guards.

Unconfirmed photographs and video circulated on social networking sites, purporting to be from the factory, showed smashed windows, riot police officers and large groups of workers milling around. The Foxconn plant, in the Chinese city of Taiyuan, employs about 79,000 workers.

Those iPhones and iPads are just so cool, until you realize those are lost American jobs, as are almost all electronics today.

Americans cannot even get solid health care, even when they have money and insurance.

Roughly a quarter of all hospitalized patients will be harmed by a medical error of some kind. If medical errors were a disease, they would be the sixth leading cause of death in America—just behind accidents and ahead of Alzheimer's. The human toll aside, medical errors cost the U.S. health-care system tens of billions a year. Some 20% to 30% of all medications, tests and procedures are unnecessary, according to research done by medical specialists, surveying their own fields.

What are we to do? America is falling apart. They offshore outsource our jobs, claim we're not educated and highly skilled, in spite of the fact the U.S. has some of the highest percentages of college graduates in the world. They foreclosure on us, take our retirement and try to kill us when we're sick. They lie to us about our skills, which are the best in the world, as they fire us to make their quarterly earnings look better. They claim we must retrain while they force us to train our offshore outsourced replacements. We have politicians who tell bold face lies to the American people and corporations which suck the life blood out of the country and do not give back.

If dramatic policy doesn't change and we have legislation in favor of the U.S. worker, the phrase jobless recovery will be synonymous for jobless. The great emptying out of America continues unabated.

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Comments

They refuse to even tie suicides directly to unemployment

Some of the studies out there nowadays won't even state the obvious cause of suicides to being unemployed and/or long-term unemployment. Because if they did that, that might actually make someone somewhere in power lose sleep for a second or two before they went back to dreaming about spending their bankster-funded vacation with their mistress in Baden-Baden. No, instead they play the cute game of "long-term unemployment is correlated to suicides, but doesn't cause them." I guess the same way jumping out of an airplane without a parachute doesn't cause actual death, but is correlated to it. The same way playing Russian roulette by yourself doesn't actually kill someone (that's the bullet entering the brain), but is correlated to it. The same way government politicians being corrupt slaves and puppets to corporate masters didn't destroy the US and our founding ideals, but is correlated to it.

Ah yes, like has been said before time and time again, companies simply cannot find qualified Americans no matter how hard they try (EP's automatic rejection article and 27,000,000 qualified unemployed Americans can attest to the lie that is). Yup, HR straight out of high school or college simply can't find any qualified Americans with degrees, or the necessary experience, or that can work well with others. And the college dropouts on Fox and elsewhere that can read teleprompters always tell us that we are uneducated and unskilled (and who are we to disagree with such stellar minds that aren't burdened by honesty or integrity or a brain). Simply can't train anyone anywhere. Sure, during WWII, tens of millions of Americans straight from farms or cities were taught to fight our enemies using every weapon under the Sun in a few weeks or months, fly planes, drive tanks, fight alongside resistance fighters across the globe, build tanks, planes, bombs, bridges, etc., etc., but that's simply too hard compared to working in an office under brainsurgeons/managers or flipping burgers (today's most prevalent job apparently). But wait, what's that, too many "overqualified" Americans too? If one still thought in America (and many of us still do), a thinking American would have to conclude, in all fairness, the people in charge are full of sh*t. Especially when the job destroyers and worst and dimmest in corporate boardrooms and their political whores constantly screw things up even worse, otherwise why the constant need for bailouts and covering up their crimes and horrific business records (e.g., bankrupting their own companies, losing billions and billions of dollars on criminal and incorrect bets on financial markets, etc.).

Never mind, I spy visa recipients and Foxconn workers overseas with no experience and no education that can replace fellow Americans. And the Chinese government can even force workers to work for free as interns building i-crap, just like American workers from 18-65 are now working for free as interns in private small and large businesses and government agencies. And if things ever go south for the corporate masters that have stated time and time again that they aren't "American" and only look out for themselves (again, not shareholders or other Americans, but CORPORATE BOARDS AND OFFICERS ONLY at the expense of shareholders and Americans), then the non-patriotic corporate boards and officers will demand that their whores in government send the Americans they despise and see as cannon fodder and/or consumers only to go protect their banana republic interests overseas. Now the Dutch East India Company is demanding you go serve the company overseas, no, sorry, the British East India Company is demanding you serve the company overseas, oops, I mean the US of Oligarchy is demanding you protect Apple and JPMorgan and Goldman Sachs overseas. And while you serve the oligarchs, ignore the fact that the oligarchs are also using the Fed to destroy any savings you might have by making the US Dollar worthless and taking direct payouts from the Fed as only the TBTF are allowed to do at 0% interest.

Ah yes, the average American gets blamed for everything, from not spending enough to not saving enough or not learning enough to being too smart and too experienced so he/she is now "overqualified." And these criticisms come from people that I wouldn't trust to watch my wallet for two minutes without stealing my cash or to house sit without burning down the entire neighborhood because of their lack of morals and brains.

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"Cause" of suicide

I found their answers ridiculous too, why the sentence. We sure do not want to imply someone who is stable, perfectly fine goes off and whacks themselves over a job loss. It is mental illness, if someone is to that point, they need help, immediate help and they should seek help.

No matter what is happening around you, except maybe terminal illness, that is simply not the answer. It's really taking out what life has done on yourself and that should not be for it's not people's fault what is happening. Even if it was their fault, there just isn't reason or justification to hurt oneself.

But I found the answers on government sites trite and "blow off", as if "positive thinking" will magically cure that black state or that economic conditions couldn't push someone over the edge. Gez, people need to know they are not alone and every day I pour over numbers which are actually people. Millions of people in this country are in financial ruin, they are not alone and it's not their fault.

Our society trivializes job loss and they "fire at will" and "fire at random" and a job loss is absolutely devastating. Society is simply supposed to provide economic well being and quality of life to the people and this society acts like jobs are some sort of side effect, after thought, which is should be the #1 primary objective of corporations, businesses, government, policy makers, politicians, economists, legislators.

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Cultural aspect too (e.g., Japan, USA)

In some countries those who aren't kicking ass and taking names (in so many words) are viewed as failures. In Japan, 57% of suicides were by unemployed. In Japan, it's viewed as a way to get rid of shame. In the US, it's always been the Protestant work ethic ideal. If you worked hard and were successful, that was basically validation that you were a good person/American. If you were unemployed or struggling, you were in so many words, a "loser." Of course that's completely messed up considering reality and the fact that many, many making the hiring/firing decisions are anything but hardworking or brilliant, but that national psyche is too far ingrained over many years. So the people struggling may even understand and accept it's not their fault, but too many other people still with jobs are quick to blame the victim so that they can somehow feel that they will never suffer the same unemployment or struggles. It's also the Horatio Alger lessons, Manifest Destiny, crush all those who get in your way or be a loser mentality still lingering out there (e.g., the snakeoil salesmanship of Trump still celebrated on TV and by some politicians).

So people who feel truly depressed because of the lack of a good job are not only punished once for being unemployed, but also a second time because in America feelings like that are only by those with "mental illness." Of course comparing suicide rates across the globe, including Japan, Sweden, Russia, and other countries for comparison and analysis show that suicides cannot be so quickly dismissed and public authorities shouldn't be so flippant about saying they are all caused by mental problems. Otherwise there would be no correlation between national economic problems and the suicide rates.

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One cannot "look down" at the entire country

I don't know the percentages of U.S. workers who have been fired at least once, but the attitudes today I would suspect it is extremely high, over 50%. To make matters worse, we have corporate attitudes of "only apply if you have a job" and literally I saw "PhD required, only those with PhDs awarded in the last 2-3 years will be considered" as a job requirement. We have brazen discriminatory ads all over the place and the EEOC is crippled, doesn't do jack about any of this. That's in part this administration and the DOL's fault for not enforcing the existing laws.

Right, the U.S. jobs market is officially insane and really abusive. Beyond the emptiness of realty TV, all of those "Survivor" shows and "competition" shows I think are doing America a huge disservice. It's one big rejection game as if only "one" can "win" and work has now become who will be voted off the Island.

That's just opposite of what one needs to build up a solid workforce or staff for a business. It's all team and turning it into a "only 1 winner" game show ruins trust to be a team.

Cultural differences or not, the deep emotional pain and scars one will leave on one's loved ones lasts for life, never mind the horrific tragedy.

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