Unemployment-Related Snarky Quote of the Day

Dean Baker wins the internet today. The set up:

The Wall Street Journal ran a piece on how some companies are unable to fill positions even when more than 14 million workers are unemployed....

All the people used as sources for the article complained that they were unable to find qualified workers. For example, Josh Williams, the chief executive of Gowalla, a social networking start-up, is quoted complaining that: "most people we want are employed somewhere already. We don't get a lot of applications coming in."

And the snark:

The way employers are supposed to deal with this situation is to offer a higher wage than their competitors in order to attract away good workers. Apparently Mr. Williams has not thought of this approach.


While we're on the subject of dumbass CEOs, here's a posum for you: if unemployment really is structural (and not due to a downturn in demand), then why haven't we fired the CEOs and managers who didn't anticipate the structural failure?

Just asking.

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"if unemployment really is structural (and not due to a downturn in demand), then why haven't we fired the CEOs and managers who didn't anticipate the structural failure?"

Really. Maybe our problem is not enough unemployment. ;)

Many companies exclusively use *external* recruiting agencies, and have none of their own. Recruiting agencies have an obvious self-interest in creating new openings, thus many recruiting agencies routinely discard the resumes and applications of the unemployed. And most of them consistently push the stereotype that the person who is already working is "more desirable" for that reason alone. Which from their external perspective is certainly true, but it often does a horrid disservice to the community, and to the hiring client as well.

By Bob O`Bob (not verified) on 11 Feb 2011 #permalink

Even more amazing is that these bozo CEOs are typically paid eight- or even nine-figure compensation packages while they run their companies into the ground. I, for one, could run the company into the ground just as effectively for a whole lot less.

If a company in trouble were truly interested in cutting payroll, the C suite would be a good place to start.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 11 Feb 2011 #permalink

(Not my usual handle, for obvious reasons.)

$EMPLOYER is, in fact, hiring and finding trouble getting the candidates we want. Which just might (or not) be related to the fact that we make no bones about paying less than others in our industry.

IMHO there are compensating advantages (as in, we also haven't laid anyone off in the past three years) but it's a bit of a stretch to expect candidates to see it that way.

By Yagotta B. Kidding (not verified) on 11 Feb 2011 #permalink

Wow Yagotta, can I take a a pay cut and come work for you? Pretty please? No layoffs in 3 WHOLE YEARZ?!?!? That's almost like, lifetime employment!

Honestly, if that's your company's outlook on the labor market, no wonder nobody wants to work for you. Geez. Or do you only hire morons or the desperate?

Paco, it's been longer than that but the last three years saw our competitors making some very deep cuts -- quite a bit more than 10% in the professional staffing and upwards of 40% in manufacturing.

So no layoffs at all in that period was pretty remarkable; in fact, unique. There are other reasons to like the place (nice people to work with and for) but that one was one of the easier ones to cite.

By Yagotta B. Kidding (not verified) on 11 Feb 2011 #permalink

"no layoffs in ...", on its own, is pretty meaningless. There is a large company near where I live that used to continually advertise with that phrase. The key word here is "continually" - they always had ads in the papers. They never have to lay anyone off because it is such a foul place to work that there are always large numbers of people leaving voluntarily.
I hate the term "compensation" when used to describe pay for work done, especially when applied to "executive" pay. Compensation is something done to remedy something - make restitution for damage, adjust the gain or phase response in a control loop, balance a flywheel, make a shoe sole thicker because one leg is shorter, or the like. I might regard it as an apt term for the pay for the people who are "at the bottom" and do the dirty jobs or endure actual hardship in their work. Reasonable "compensation" for many of the Wall Street money changers would be to take money they already have away from them.

I work for a financial services company in the City which didn't lay off anyone during the whole credit crunch. This has been appreciated by the employees for a while, but now when the crisis has lessened, people don't want to be underpaid and leave in droves (myself included, soon). Not only CEOs have short memories, employees as well.

To anyone interested in the short memory phenomenon, I highly recommend John Kenneth Galbraith's book A Short History of Financial Euphoria.
It is an easy read and it is easy to imagine that it was written within the past couple of years. It wasn't. It may leave you muttering "Doomed, I tells ya, doooooooomed."

"most people we want are employed somewhere already. We don't get a lot of applications coming in."

You would if the job posting didn't essentially read "We want someone with the exact same experience and skills as the person who left this position had, even though you don't need half of them to actually do the job, and could learn them on the job if you did. This would require that we spend time and money training you to do the job, when in fact we want to dump you on a pile of work and walk away."