Thursday, November 05, 2009

Just be glad you have a job.

Since this recession began, I've heard a number of people comment about someone else's employment situation: "He should just be glad he has a job." Well, yes, there is some wisdom in that statement, especially considering that a small city nearby, the unemployment rate is 17%, although it has gone down below 8% in the rest of this state.

I've heard about my friend's daughter who has a high profile job that her college degree prepared her for: she earns only a little above minimum wage. She has to look at this job as a stepping stone to a bigger and better position elsewhere.

I've observed what has happened to my son in his young work life. He worked at an entry level position for a company where he had interned. The pay was decent and there were benefits, but they broke promises to him about helping him financially to get classes so that he could take on more responsibility.

Then he got a "management" position at a large Big Box Store (no, not Wal-mart.) The pay was poor, considering that he had to have a specific college degree to get that job, and if you wanted benefits, you had to pay for them, which is hard to do when your pay is way less than it costs to attend college for a year. BTW, the owner of this business is a billionaire. But at least my son had some income, even it hardly covered his expenses.

Next he got some pick up work involving scraping and painting apartments. The pay had no tax subtracted from the gross amounts and the apartment owner had no building permits. There were no provisions for safety of the workers. And, oh yes, these apartments are in one of the most upscale areas of the city where many buildings are owned by this one man. But at least my son had a job. For two months.

My son moved to another part of the US where many people work for minimum wage, although that is higher than it is here. He got a job in a Big Italian Restaurant Chain, which pays whatever the lowest legal wage is, depending on which state they are in. Where he is, they pay $2.13/hour because there are tips. Yes, that is correct, I verified this on that state's website. The people tip 10% if the waiter is lucky. That wage is down more than $1/hour compared to two years ago. In this state, minimum wage in $6.25/ hour or $5.25/ hour, depending on the size of the company. How is it that the same restaurant chain can pay $4/hour less for the same work, just because the building is in another state? Oh, that's right, don't question, just be glad he has a job.

Well, Son was also applying elsewhere, and one place called him back for three additional interviews, but would not tell him what the salary would be. Then he was offered the job. It was a job with a good company and included benefits, but the salary offered was surprisingly low, considering that this is a lower management position. After thinking it over, my son decided he could probably do better as a waiter, so he said no because of salary reasons. Well, surprise! The manager called him back and offered him the position at a salary of 25% higher. Now I am glad that my son has a job.

During this recession I've come to the conclusion that the owners of companies, who may be making less than before, but who aren't starving, use the economic climate to get people to think, "At least I have a job." Wages are kept low and the wealthy owners can keep their accustomed life style.


  1. Have you noticed too that companies as well as the government are all telling us that we just need to "tighten our belts" a bit, oh and yes, just a bit more. Oh, no raise this year, maybe next when things pick up, etc. But how often do you hear of the big honchos tightening their respective belts? Look at our government officials -both federal and state -at what their wages are and also -well especially in Penna. anyway -all the benefits they have too but you don't ever see any of them giving up a penny do you? They still manage, even though the economy sucks and it took our state legislators almost four months to even agree on a budget, full of cost-cutting that generally affects those already on poverty row but none of them offered any reductions, did they? But too, as you said it so succinctly, "At least they have a job!" And that attitude is one that has permeated the region where I live for years and years now too! People are afraid to say diddly squat for fear the company will fire them, lay them off, or that if enough people have the same attitude about the corporations, they will just up and move to a different location -one where the people working for them there will be grateful because "at least they have a job" then too!
    Sad state of affairs, isn't it?

  2. Our local city council (tiny town) used to have two policemen. Now none due to bad economics. But the city council members cut their meager pay to $0. We have a completely shut down local factory, closed forever, and all the mines have been closed for a year. Some are just reopening, so times are tough.

    BUT, my first job was in 1966, when minimum wage was $1.35 or if you got tips, then $1.10. I worked at a pizza place, where peon workers like myself earned $2/hour and the two full time workers earned $4/hour. The owner, who had started the business, didn't take his bucks and run to a mansion in the suburbs.

    I keep thinking about those bonuses on Wall Street: if they money managers paid out more in returns on investments, then many people would benefit, rather than just those getting bonuses on top of good salaries.

  3. BTW, our wonderful Governor Pawlenty, has cut health care for the poor. And before there even was the recession, he had cut hours for state park workers, which closed the interpretative centers. And he cut money for nursing homes a few years ago, resulting in the closing of >30 nursing homes. He's now trying to run for President. Beware!@

  4. Life is not fair now nor has it ever been.
    Greed rules.
    Peace be with you.

  5. Dr. John is telling a truth that's uncomfortable to hear. Life's not fair. It never has been. Jesus calls us to live like God matters most and our neighbors matter as much as we do. The challenge is to teach it in a culture that's not about to sit down and listen to such radical thoughts about love, mercy, greed, and generosity.

  6. Of course life isn't fair and of course greed rules. That's why Christians need to speak up. That's why people need to know that they don't have to just lie down and be stepped on. This has to be taught and supported. Like why those Wall Street people who got those big bonuses in spite of running their companies poorly now are reported to have gotten the H1N1 vaccinations before the rest of us have access.

  7. I don't favor the "class warfare" the Fix news people and their sheep talk up to scare people off. I do favor the New Testament and the belief in some degree of fairness and equity in our society. The growing dispproportionate distribution of wealth in this society between the managers and the manangees, the owners and the owned has become just plain obscene.

  8. So, Dr. John is right, but the question is: how do we respond to this reality?

  9. Underemployment is a chronic problem in the area where I live. It is no easier than complete unemployment. And the ones who say 'be thankful for it' have, I've often thought, never walked in those shoes.

  10. What's in my mind now has always been that money matters..although I'd rather not knowing the reality of the situation,perhaps its a good time to tighten the belt for a while...
    THAT MONEY saga is likely to contaminate the atmosphere...but until when? Only GOD's global situation my be glad your son have a job and I'm glad my hubby still have his as well..


And what do you think?