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The Employment Index: Week Two

I pass the test.

(See last week’s Employment Index for background on this project.)

Week two and I’ve already diverged from my original intent.  I was busy the first two days of the week so I wasn’t able to devote as much time to my job search as I wanted to.  But on Wednesday, I submitted 7 applications.  So, in addition to the 3 additional ones I submitted last Saturday, that makes 10 online applications since the last unemployment index post.  I also made two networking connections.  

So, why so little activity this week?  Well, as it turns out, I went a little outside my search territory on Wednesday and submitted an application in a different industry.  About 3 hours later, I got a call from that company.  They were very positive (I’m trying not to get my hopes up) and asked me to come in for an assessment test in several different areas.  That had me sweating bullets.  I was really worried that I was going to have to do heavy math and the last time I had to take a derivative of anything was back in the late 80s.  That’s what server clusters and scientific software are for.  They do the work so you don’t have to.  Oh sure, you have to know the equations and relationships but the heavy lifting is done by silicon.  Anyway, I freaked myself out unnecessarily.  Most of the stuff I reviewed wasn’t on the test and there were sections of the test that I would have needed much more time to learn because it was outside the scope of anything I’ve ever done.  

I passed it anyway.  The HR person said I got a score of “awesome!”.  Whew.  She says I should be scheduled for interviews next week and will know by the end of the week if I can rejoin the middle class.  I’m trying not to make plans because even though I give good interview, I’m getting to be very superstitious about these things.  The universe can be random and weird.  But the thought of having a full time job with benefits and a decent salary has driven the thought of useless application churning right out of my mind for the moment.  I will pick it up again on Monday.  

Some other notes:

One of my networking contacts was an old friend from the Pittsburgh area.  She’s a little older than me.  She and her husband were also tossed out of the middle class during the recession.  They had a hard time making ends meet for about 4 years until they moved back to Pittsburgh.  She’s a little bitter about the fact that older baby-boomers are retiring comfortably while she and her husband can’t buy a house and will probably never retire.  

She told me that their luck turned in a single day.  In both cases for her husband and herself, they applied online and heard back from their current employers within minutes to hours.  

That makes me wonder if there’s a sweet spot for submitting an online application.  It could be that HR reps or hiring managers scan the resumes online at certain times of the day.  It could also be the case that the sooner you apply to a posting, the better your chances.  

The other thing I noticed is that there is one company that I apply to frequently that everyone I know says is low hanging fruit but for some peculiar reason, I can’t get a response.  Not even a nibble.  It’s ridiculous.  It might have something to do with their online application system.  It reformats my resume every time I submit to it.  It also asks if I’ve been out of work for a period of more than 30 days during my entire working career.  Come on, who hasn’t been out of work for more than 30 days in the last 6 years?  Is that a realistic question?  Some of the best people I know, the hardest workers, the smartest people, have been out of work for more than 30 days.  Not their fault, especially if they were located in NJ when their turn came.  I used to go to meetings where everyone was looking for a job.  When sites are closing all around you and the competition is high and jobs are few, you tend to spend more time out of work than you intended. It’s just that random universal thing.  But it does suggest that there is a  level of prejudice against the unemployed that may be impossible to overcome if the criteria is set at how many days of unemployment a candidate has faced.  

Total applications this week (end 09/06/2014): 10 

Total applications since the beginning of this project: 35

Total number of calls for interviews: 1 

                           Temp agency: 1

                           Direct position: 0

Total number of assessments taken: 1; Number passed: 1

Total number networking contacts: 2

Obama’s Choice: Save the Economy or Save the Bankers

With the help of Dakinikat’s and Riverdaughter’s posts and my own reading, I’ve been trying to understand what is happening to our economy and how that is going to affect Americans. I came across an economist and historian named Michael Hudson who used to work on Wall Street and is now a Distinguished Research Professor at the University of Missouri, Kansas City (UMKC).

Hudson is really good at explaining the financial disaster we are going though, and he does it in plain English. In the interview posted below (taped yesterday in London) Hudson argues that governments around the world are deliberately shortchanging their own economies, because the financial sector give so much to politicians. Here’s the money quote (it appears about 4:54):

“…the largest contributor to the political campaigns is the financial sector, and the government has a choice: they can save the economy or or they can save the creditors who made the bad loans. They’ve said, ‘We don’t care about the economy; we’re bailing out the creditors. That’s our constituency.”

Here’s another interview with Hudson by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now. This one is from February 15. In this interview Hudson explains in more detail why Obama’s recovery plan is “awful.” It is the “greatest transfer of wealth in American history,” and it is turning the U.S. into an oligarchy with a whole new class of wealthy financiers.

In the end, says Hudson, the debts will have to be written off; because you simply can’t get blood from a stone. If people don’t have the money to pay their mortgages, they can’t pay them. In the meantime, Obama is pouring trillions of dollars of our tax money into the banks.

What can we do about it? I don’t know, but I agree with RD and Dakinikat that we all have to get up to speed on economics as best we can. This country is in real trouble, and the “vast majority of baby boomers have accumulated little to no wealth.” These people are close to retirement, and their houses have lost value and their 401Ks are in the crapper.

And the combination of falling house and stock values means that the vast majority of people near retirement have accumulated little or no wealth, meaning they will be almost completely reliant on Social Security and Medicare to support them in their retirement years.

These are the findings of “The Wealth of the Baby Boom Cohorts After the Collapse of the Housing Bubble,” a report by the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR), a non-partisan research firm.

We cannot allow the rapidly developing Obamagarchy to destroy social security and medicare just as we are very likely headed into a Depression that could be worse than the Great Depression my parents lived through. And we are more poorly prepared now than people were at the time of the 1929 crash. In those days, people had some savings. We are really going to have to stick together as a people and remind ourselves again and again that this is our country. It doesn’t belong to Obama or to the bankers. This land is our land.