Unemployment blues

I am an unemployed bum. Again.

When I look at my work history, I can’t think of a time when I’ve had a stable job. And by stable I mean one where I thought I’d be able to continue working, with hope of promotion for a company that was also economically stable. My resume is a train wreck of employment history.

I’ve found recently that the quality of my work, my experience and my education has little to do with my salary level – if anything at all. I can be educated up to my eyeballs (and I am) and still find it hard to find meaningful (or any) work at a minimum salary range that I need to sustain life.

There’s a correlation between wages and inflation that I think most people seem to miss, perhaps because most people aren’t educated beyond high school. (And that’s something I think a lot of well educated people seem to forget.) Such that, when wages go up, people tend to have greater purchasing power and they exercise that power by buying lots of useless stuff they don’t need and that in turn makes prices go up. We’re constantly bombarded with advertisements telling us how we aren’t happy because we don’t have the latest whizbang thingy, so we need to go out and spend, spend, spend. But how do the employers expect us to buy all the yummy things they lay out for us, if they don’t pay us enough to purchase their rotten items?

This then comes back to my thoughts on salary and experience. We’re not paid on how much we know, or how much we’ve done.

When I go and sell my home, I don’t tell the real estate agent how much I want to sell the place for, and I don’t inform purchasers how much they have to pay to get my place. The market decides. A smart seller will research what similar abodes in the local area go for and aim for that as a selling price (or, just above, or well above.) If there are more properties available than buyers, prices go down because buyers have the upper hand in negotiations as they can shop around. If interest rates are too high, or the money market has gone balls up and there’s a credit crunch then that also affects prices. But generally, it’s about demand, and demand drives prices.

If there are more jobs available than workers, wages go up. Now, I’m not saying you can get by with no education or experience, but when the market is tight (or loose, never sure which is which) – that is fewer unemployed bums than jobs, the talent have a better pick of the jobs available and the wages go up.

Sure, the role and the person have to fit. Much like a family looking for a 4 bedroom house isn’t going to consider a 1 bedroom flat. It’s still the square peg for the square hole, but the same pattern still applies. The market drives salaries and prices.

At the moment, there are lots of jobs for child care workers. Now, I just can’t rock up to a child care centre and get a job. I have to be qualified. (And, I’d probably have to lose the extra fashion item.) But that doesn’t mean I can earn $9.5 million a year as a child care worker. For a start, that’d be about $500K per child – I don’t think may parents can afford that. And think of what the other workers would do when they find out the wage gap between me and them. (Although, I’d probably only need to work for about a month and I could retire.)

So, I know what my minimum salary needs to be to meet my basic needs. And I’m concerned that I won’t be able to get a job that makes that level of salary. I might have a bunch of nice documents hanging on the wall and a lorry load of experience in different industries but if I’m stuck in a market that has a lot more unemployed layabouts than jobs, there’s (almost) nothing I can do to improve my lot.

So, that’s that then.