On Wednesday's show we talked with experts and job seekers about how to find employment in the 2009 economy. Connecticut's unemployment rate is at 7.2%, just under the national average, which is now up to 7.6% The New York Times reports today that the U.S. lost almost 600,000 jobs in January. With the job market shrinking, job seekers face an increasinglly competive hiring environment, and are sometimes forced to look outside of their fields. Eric Gershon over at the Hartford Courant writes that more than 850 people showed up yestery for a job fair at the Holiday Inn in Waterbury to apply for only 40-50 open positions.
That gets at a question that came up on the show this week. Joel, a caller to Wednesday's program and a recent transplant from Las Vegas, said he'd been unable to find work in the entertainment-service industry here in Connecticut, and that he felt "blessed" to get a job as a "glorified trash man" for a local company overseeing forclosed properties. He asked our guests and listeners whether part of the reason people struggle to find jobs in a down economy is their reluctance to look outside of their comfort zones. "Are people's standards too high right now?" he asked. In other words, if people widen their job search nets to include jobs they wouldn't otherwise consider, might they have better luck?
A fair question. One which a NYT blog takes on today. A contributor, Laurence Kotlikoff, encourages the job seeker to consider what work will pay over the long term and what positions can't be sent overseas. And to that end--what types of education and training are worth the costs students incur?
“Take plumbing," Kotlikoff says. "It’s not romantic, but 1.3 billion Chinese aren’t going to compete to fix Sara Ann’s toilet in Cleveland. Nor will any computer, scanner or robot. And these days, plumbers make more than general practitioners over their lifetimes once you factor in all the costs of becoming a doctor. Economists, myself included, are now supplying tools that help you understand which career delivers the highest lifetime living standard and whether going back to school is worth it.”