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Why I Don’t Support the “Put America Back To Work” Movement

November 18th, 2011

I don’t.  I don’t support it and I don’t believe in it.  Here’s why:

1. Today’s “job” is not the same as yesteryear’s “job.”

10 or 20 years ago, getting a job meant something bigger than what it means today.   It meant having a career. It meant job security.  It meant benefits, like good health insurance, pension, and more.

Getting that job meant you had ARRIVED, and you could take a breath, and relax.

Today, a job doesn’t come with good healthcare.  Companies that used to provide good healthcare have seen costs skyrocket, and so you have to pay more OR you get less coverage.  Hardly anyone offers pensions.  No company offers any job security.

Having a “job” today is more of a temporary status than it has been for a long time.  I can’t get behind a movement that seems to push towards getting something that is different than what you think you are getting.

2. Jobs aren’t here in abundance.

I know, I know, they are there.  You just have to find them.  You have to network in and find the hidden job market.  I BELIEVE THAT.  I have a good friend who got an amazing job at an organization that was on a hiring freeze…. his brand and network helped him land an amazing job.

There are a few factors that have an impact on the number of jobs.  The economy has been in the toilet long enough that employers are timid about bringing on new costs…. many seem to be holding their breath, waiting for better days (and less risk).

Also, the flat world has been too tempting for big companies to send billions of dollars of salaries overseas.  Whether you think that is right or wrong, it is reality… and those jobs won’t be back for a while (or, forever).

In the webinar we did with Mark Hovind this week (should be posted soon), we learned that things aren’t going to get “back to normal” for about four or five more years (back to normal -> about 7% unemployment).  That’s a LONG TIME.

3. Back to work is based on flawed metrics.

This is perhaps my biggest hangup. I don’t believe in many statistics, and the analysis thereof, especially from the government.

The success numbers behind “Back to work” go up when someone goes from not employed to employed.  Even if it is a temporary or part-time job.  The criteria is that they are getting a paycheck.  It might end after the season… or it might be 10 hours a week.  Regardless, the success measurement (which is GOT JOB=+1) is misleading.

The other hangup I have is that even if the job is a full-time, permanent, maybe even salaried job, the income might not be what you need to make.  If you lose a $70k job, and then find a $35k job, is that a success?  It might feel better to not be unemployed, but when you get that first paycheck and then realize you have to get a second or third job to make ends meet, it doesn’t feel like a success anymore.

I’m all about getting people back on their feet.  But I’m not convinced that “getting back to work,” or “getting a job,” is the right answer for everyone.

There are other options… other career strategies.  Like this concept.

Those are my three main thoughts… what do you think?

14 Comments »

14 responses to “Why I Don’t Support the “Put America Back To Work” Movement”

  1. How’d you get so smart ;))

  2. Jason Alba says:

    @Susan – Listening to people like you :)

  3. Carolyn Hipkins says:

    The back to work movement isn’t perfect but its better than nothing. Take it from me, I know. I say let’s have two movements; a back to work movement and income security movement.

  4. Barb Poole says:

    Good post, Jason! It serves us all well to think about what we are shouting for! New age and not going backward in many respects. What’s the whole picture? What’s needed for that person? What has to happen for a solution? And when you find it, it may only turn out to be a solution for x amount of time. Then back to the drawing board. That’s the reality. We are all in the business as CEO of US. You raise points that many don’t want to discuss.

  5. Jason Alba says:

    @Carolyn – great point. I am not opposed to people getting to work, especially if they don’t think of it as “ah, I’ve arrived! I don’t have to do any career management anymore!”. I don’t want to come across as a work-hater… I just hope people keep a “job” into the proper context… So yes, let’s do both. I like thinking of a job as ONE of many revenue streams to work on.

    @Barb – thank you! For that reason (your last sentence) I think this will be one of my favorite posts….

  6. Barb Poole says:

    It could be interesting to be sure:-) I look forward to the feedback! Happy Thanksgiving Jason!

  7. David Groth says:

    Jason, It is fear: fear we can’t cope, fear we are getting older, fear that others are in our playground and fear that we cannot learn the new stuff fast enough. This country has such a knack for not having real conversations, and this is one of them. Change means change, and this world economy is not the old economy with ribbons and bows. With all the dogma being played out, the real conversations are just not happening. Blame and not admitting fear is much easier. Thanks for starting this.

  8. Gary Ares says:

    Seth Godin also had a thought that goes like this; “The future is about gigs and art and an ever-shifting series of partnerships and projects”.

    Jason, I’m a firm believed in just being given the clear facts and let me figure out the best course of action. However, our oligarchy won’t allow it, because it’s not in their best interest, and they’ve worked too hard to get us in the perpetually fearful and hectic state of mind we’re suffering in today.

  9. Brad Lovett says:

    We’re still hung up on thinking of ‘jobs” as “slots”. Some say tax breaks will cause “slots” to open up; others say higher taxes will allow the government to create “slots” (notwithstanding that even if thousands of road projects were created,most of the work would be done with heavy machinery, not men with shovels). Both miss the point.

    What we aren’t talking about is what the alternatives are.

  10. Jeff H says:

    Jason, well put. The only solution to at least move the pendulum back the other direction is to create enough reduced risk to get companies to act and the reduction must be long term not a change of the thermostat but a lock out of those inhibitors that send $ and work over seas, to the back burner and never funded. Life definitely is a series of projects right now that you have to maximize profit, productivity and guard the earnings from, so you can protect yourself for the upcoming rainy day.

  11. Gary Ares says:

    Actually, the real, real bad news will be in the next 40 years, so predict some pretty well informed minds. We who have lived from post WW II until present day are extremely fortunate, despite the intermittent turbulence. Our kids and their kids will have it 1930’s bad if we don’t solve the energy, environmental, food problems that are coming. Population growth will is conservatively estimated at 10B and maybe more by 2050. It’s also predicted that the economy will be dwarfed by China and equaled to India by around 2020. I can provide backup info and links to the sources of these claims.

    Now, back to the jobs. So far, we seen a government who was asleep at the wheel and claims not to have seen this economic disaster coming. This ought to be a warning to any reasonably intelligent person that you children cannot be trusted in their care.

    Unfortunately, there are some brave souls taking on the chin, in the eyes, and across the back for protesting. Peaceful protesting. This too should be a signal for us that we must break out of our crazy-busy pace to actually see how, that if we don’t bring about change our kids will live in a very different world than we did; not in a good way.

    I’ll close in saying, that whether you believe in the Occupy movement or not, there are important tel-tales to watch, because our future generations will be controlled even worse if we don’t stand up push back. We must return our country to the Republic it was purposefully designed to be, not the “Democracy” that it has turned out to be (if this sounds odd to you, please study a little history of the Constitution).

  12. Steve Gallison says:

    Jason,
    Jobs are NOT going back to the way they were. We are moving into a self employment era. The 1099 era. The build your own business era. The francishing era. The take charge of your income producing era. The depend on yourself era. Those who plan to succeed probably will era. Those who don’t plan to succeed probably won’t era.

    The public service programs are going to be squeezed by the budget cut and go through painful mergers to reduce administrative costs. More virtual services are planned but if the gov would look around the Internet they would see that everything you need to know about jobs/careers/consulting and small biz startup is already there.

    We are in a world-wide CONVERGENCE. Technology changes every 9-12 months and it effects what and how we do things. We have to teach agility and the power of trend watching and be nimble to compete for our livelihoods.

    Recently I was asked to speak to some college juniors about jobs and I related a story from my son who now realized that a college degree didn’t get him where he wanted to be. He now realizes what he really needed was a business coach. A professor(tenured I presumed) went on to berate me by telling me that I might be urging students to drop out and felt that I was just “popping off” my opinions. I responded that perhaps his marketing classes might be based on his theories of what he believed was current marketing theories and that perhaps he to was “popping off” based on his years of teaching. I explained we are just like pioneer Americans who had to work hard and innovate our existence to our own little spot in the world and students need to think in possibilities not in the past theories of what worked in yesteryears, but take stock in the here and now and forecast where it is all going as the world of innovation picks up speed and go for it. This a world for doers not hopers.

    So you career coaches and business coaches out there are the light and the inspiration, don’t stop learning.

    PS My son has met his biz coach and is looking for restaurant locations with his partner. So now you know what I’ll be doing with my 401k, investing it for free meals later. That solves one of my problems, now I hope it has a nice apartment above and my wife and I will literally be “home free”.

  13. Steve Gallison says:

    Gary Ares you are right on the next 25 years are the shakeout period for the world’s economies testing whether this nation or economic model will long endure. A strong link to India is one of the best bets to help manage the world economy. China has many people like 400 million folks already over 65 and no health system, a burgeoning middle class of consumers who want middle class wants and a system where freedom is arbitrary. This will not stand and another Russian style break up or worse a civil war could be in the offing. They have to have foreign trade to feed the people and foreign oil and water all of which they have insufficient amounts. America has excesses of all these items per capita.

    You my friend are on the right track… It is called seeing the world for what it is …. at appoint of convergence where the trend watchers hold sway.

  14. SteveGallison says:

    Gary Ares you are right on the next 25 years are the shakeout period for the world’s economies testing whether this nation or economic model will long endure. A strong link to India is one of the best bets to help manage the world economy. China has many people like 400 million folks already over 65 and no health system, a burgeoning middle class of consumers who want middle class wants and a system where freedom is arbitrary. This will not stand and another Russian style break up or worse a civil war could be in the offing. They have to have foreign trade to feed the people and foreign oil and water all of which they have insufficient amounts. America has excesses of all these items per capita.

    You my friend are on the right track… It is called seeing the world for what it is …. at appoint of convergence where the trend watchers hold sway.