Posted in History, Politics

Couldn’t Have Said it Better Myself

10 Thoughts On America’s Unrecognized Scourge: Joblessness

from WGBH Radio, Boston, MA

” Thanks to a cocktail of factors – deregulation, globalization, deindustrialization, automation – wealth in the 21st century has become uncoupled from work.”

Auto factory worker
Still working…fornow.

Article:

1. A specter is haunting America – the specter of joblessness. Between Bill Clinton’s Washington exit 17 years ago and Donald Trump’s recent inauguration, about 10 million jobs across the nation have disappeared. Poof. Gone.

2. Friday’s report from the Department of Labor that the economy added 235,000 jobs is good news. “Robust,” is how NPR characterized it. But it’s a gloss on reality. It doesn’t reflect that somewhere between 20- and 40-million able-bodied people of working age have been displaced or dropped out of the workforce.

3. There are huge social, economic, and political implications attached to this still under appreciated phenomenon. The two most obvious: Brexit and Trump’s election. It would be gross over simplification to attribute these tectonic shifts to disappeared jobs alone. But it is reckless and irresponsible not to factor it into public thinking.

Read the rest of this article.

Then resist, with all your heart and will.

Posted in A Bit of This, A Bit of That, Health, Home, Just Bitching, Life, Writing

Pajama Sunday

English: Verso. Puzzle card. Find Santa Claus ...

Think of a very lazy day off, where you can do whatever you want to do – or don’t want to do. It’s especially helpful if you’re coming off of a busy and stressful time. I’m taking one today.

Pajama Sunday is my sister’s name for it. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. I’ll probably get around to doing laundry and a few other errands, then treat myself to a long, hot shower and a fresh pair of sheets at bedtime. In between I’ll catch up on some reading, download a few new audiobooks from the library and see when and where I have the energy to do anything else.

I’ve had a month of bad luck. The hubby got sick and stayed that way for three weeks, then I came down with it. I ended up flat on my back (for the most part) for almost two weeks, then among the walking wounded for the last. I’m still coughing up this and that and am pretty low on energy. I’ve got enough decongestants, antihistamines and prescription cough medications to start my own pharmacy. When I finally decided to drag myself to the doctor, she said I needed to take it easy and expect the cough to linger for a while. She was right in that diagnosis. I went out for a few hours to visit with the in-laws yesterday, go to a play and then out to dinner afterwards. I should have enjoyed it, but I really didn’t. All I wanted to do was crawl into bed, despite the fact that we hadn’t seen my husband’s folks in a while and I really missed them.

As if that weren’t bad enough, I also lost my footing about two weeks ago and fell in our basement, just as I was carrying a freshly washed and folded basket of laundry to the stairs. I don’t know what I did or how, but I went flying and landed hard on my right side and hand. My laundry went tumbling, along with my glasses, which flew right off my face. The fall took the wind out of me and I couldn’t get up at first. I kept falling back. I eventually recovered my glasses and my breath and slowly made my way up to  my feet. I don’t think anything’s broken, but I haven’t officially checked yet. Why? I’m really sick of dragging myself to the doctor or to the drug store. I don’t think my hand is broken (I’m typing, aren’t I?), but it’s still badly swollen and tender. Up until recently, it’s been difficult to bend over to tie my shoes because of the whacking I gave to the ribs and muscle tissue on my right side. I’ve been getting by on ice and ibuprofen. I may break down and go to the doc once again if the hand swelling doesn’t start going down by later this week.

It hasn’t been all bad, though. I’ve been working a rather nice part-time job at a church not far from where I live. They’re not the preachy type and I get no grief for not being religious myself. They need an office manager and internet guru and that’s what they’re getting. I’m still teaching two Community Education courses and will be adding a third course and a workshop this fall and winter. Other than health-wise, things are going quite well.

Part of pajama Sunday is letting me get back to blogging and other writing. It’s a little indulgence in the middle of banged-up body parts and other people’s schedules. Nice.

Posted in Uncategorized

Thoughts on a Quiet, Cold Monday

Today is Patriot's Day in Boston and a semi-official holiday. Boston is closed down for the holiday and for the Boston Marathon, an annual event on the same day.

My mother is out of the ICU and seems to be doing better, according to my sister. My thanks to all of you for your good wishes and support. My sister also said she's happy with the quality of care our mom is receiving. That's a load off of my mind, to be sure.

I'm in a warm-weather mood, even though the weather here isn't quite cooperating with that spirit. It's cold and very overcast. Nonethless, I'm using lemons, tahini, garlic, and yogurt to whip up some tasty dishes for dinner. We'll have a baked chicken with lemon, Brussels sprouts and rice pilaf. I put together a veggie and pita bread dip with tahini, garlic, yogurt and lemon juice. It's wonderful, and a great way to eat healthy. My brother- and sister-in-law put me onto the idea.

Otherwise, doing a few things here and there. I've been putting a lot of time into business planning and it's starting to show at last. Good!

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Art For The Times

Well, in the space of two days I've had to tell two sets of parents about about mutual job losses. Now I've got myself, a husband a mother, a mother-in-law, a father and a father-in-law to worry about. No, I kept telling them, we'll be fine. Don't worry, don't stay up at night (bad enough one of us is doing that). And, for God's sake, don't send money. You need it!

Gaaah. My parents really do worry. They also don't really know what's going on in the wider world outside of them, so this kind of thing is a double shock to them.

Some days I feel just like this picture.

As if I didn't have enough to worry about.

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Yup. Been There, Done That. And I’d Love Some Legislation.

Meltdown 101: Temp workers lost in layoff shuffle

Thursday, January 29, 2009

(01-29) 13:53 PST , (AP) —

The massive layoffs piling up in corporate America paint a harrowing picture of a maimed economy, but the job-cut numbers reported by struggling companies are really just a snapshot of the recession's carnage.

As they hand out pink slips to thousands of full-time workers, major employers are also jettisoning temporary workers and outside contractors who handle a wide range of jobs — everything from programming computers to scrubbing toilets.

Just how many temporary workers are getting swept out in corporate housecleanings is unclear, largely because regulators don't require the same disclosures as they typically do when at least 50 full-time workers are let go. (There were 21,137 of these mass layoffs recorded last year, up from 15,493 in 2007.)

The looser rules have allowed prominent employers like Google Inc. and Microsoft Corp. to trim contractors and temporary workers without quantifying how many people are being shown the door.

The phenomenon has happened in other downturns, but never to this extent, said Sung Won Sohn, an economics professor at California State University, Channel Islands.

The main reason: Employers have been relying increasingly more on temporary, or "contingent," workers during the past two decades to save money on payroll taxes and benefits. Analysts believe the trend will accelerate in the years ahead. If it does, even more people may be forced to accept temporary jobs even after the economy recovers.

Here are some questions and answers about the temporary work force and how the recession is affecting it.

Q: How many people go to work every week without being classified as a full-time worker?

A: Nearly one-third of the work force — about 42.6 million people, according to a 2006 report from the U.S. General Accountability Office. About 21.5 million of these workers either specialized in temporary assignments, were independent contractors or were self-employed.

Q: How many of these contingent workers have been laid off?

A: Based on government data, Moody's Economy.com estimates U.S. companies ended 2008 with 2.1 million workers from temporary employment agencies, down from a peak of 2.65 million in 2006. This indicates at least 550,000 people have lost temporary jobs in the past two years.

Most companies also rely on independent contractors. This group is a subset of the 8.9 million self-employed workers in the country, which has fallen by 1.2 million since November 2007, according to Moody's.

Most of these self-employed workers are counted among the roughly 5 million full-time jobs that evaporated between November 2007 and last month. (Not all self-employed workers were necessarily doing their duties full time when they lost their jobs.)

Q: Do temporary workers qualify for unemployment benefits?

A: Generally, workers placed through a temporary employment agency can collect unemployment payments, as long as the job loss wasn't triggered by some kind of wrongdoing and they remain willing to accept another "suitable" job.

It gets tricker for outside contractors. As a rule of thumb, they don't qualify because they aren't brought in by a temporary placement agency that pays for their unemployment insurance.

But sometimes contractors who have been working for the same employer for years can make a case that they should receive unemployment benefits. These long-term contractors, sometimes called "permalancers" or "permatemps," must prove they were doing the same jobs as workers on the regular payroll.

As the number of contingency workers has swelled, activist groups like the Freelancers Union have been fighting to reform the unemployment system so independent contractors can automatically qualify for benefits when they lose their jobs.

Q: Which companies are cutting temporary workers?

A: Just about every employer trying to lower its expenses — a definition that seems to fit most companies in these tough times.

When companies are pinching pennies, contingent workers are usually dumped before full-time employees. That's why the number of temporary employees began to dwindle in 2006, about a year before companies began to prune their permanent payrolls, said Sophia Koropeckyj, a labor economist for Economy.com.

When an employer decides to trim temporary jobs, workers imported from abroad are often the first to go, said Robert Kennedy, a professor at the University of Michigan's Ross School of Business. This often happens because companies decide they can no longer afford the time and expense of securing work visas for foreign contractors.

By cutting temp workers first, employers can signal they are doing everything possible to avoid laying off their full-time employees.

To underscore that point, specialty glass maker Corning Inc. let it be known it was already in the process of letting go 1,400 temporary workers when it disclosed plans to lay off 3,500 full-time employees earlier this week.

"We wanted to make it very clear to that we have taken pains to avoid laying off our full-time employees," said Corning spokesman Dan Collins.

Other companies like Google and Microsoft haven't been as forthcoming. Both have confirmed they are cutting ties with contractors without being more specific.

The purge could be cutting a wide swath. Google, the Internet's search leader, had 10,000 contractors as recently as October. Microsoft hasn't even specified the size of its contingent work force, but analysts believe the world's largest software maker has somewhere between 40,000 and 60,000 contractors working for it.

A long list of other technology firms, including IBM Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc., have been trimming contractors without disclosing the number of cuts.

Q: Is there any upside to being a temporary worker?

A: Well, there is this: They probably will be among the first to land new jobs when the economy shows enough signs of life to encourage employers to expand again.

"You never know how strong the recovery is going to be, so the last thing most employers are going to want to do is bring back full-time workers only to have to let them go again," Sohn said. "So they are probably going to stick their toes in the water by hiring temporary workers first."

If that happens, more people who had full-time jobs before this recession may find themselves joining the contingent work force, whether they like it or not.

___

AP Technology Writers Jordan Robertson in San Francisco and Jessica Mintz in Seattle contributed to this story.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2009/01/29/national/a135349S52.DTL

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She’s Workin’!

I am happy to announce that, as of this Thursday, I will again be employed!

YAYAYAYAYAYAYAAAAAA!

Starting as an admin/tech, filling in for a woman going on maternity leave. Given today's economics, however, I'll take the position and happily. I do like the recruiting company for this job, too. Family-owned and with seeming good business sense. Sounds like they want to keep me on board with them for as long as possible.

I won't argue with that!

But – PHEW!

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A Walk In The Thaw

Well, my knee must be getting better. I went for a 45 minute walk this afternoon and didn't feel pain for quite a while. My knee started to get a bit sore after a while, but by then I was fairly close to home again. So, good!

I met a really nice recruiter this morning. The original plan was to have me interview with a potential contract employer, but some wires got crossed so that, alas, never happened. I was able to find a silver lining, though, in the depth of conversation the two of us were able to have. We hit it off. The recruiter hoped I'd remain available – even if this present opportunity doesn't pan out. They liked my skills, my experience and my personality.

Of course, who knows what will happen? I may get this position, but if not I've at least added another contact and a good one at that.

I'm also back at work on the novel. I went in and significantly re-wrote a bunch of chapters and filled in a lot of detail for later developments. It was nice to get back to fiction, even if it was under a cloud of unemployment.

Silver linings. Gotta' keep remembering that.

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Bleary-Eyed and Busy

I spent the night on the couch, after my husband fell asleep and nearly knocked out the windows with his snoring. He's like that. Sometimes I sleep elsewhere when that happens and sometimes he does. I didn't sleep particularly well on the couch last night, though, so have been tired and headache-y all day. Typical.

Well, my car's dead again. It's probably the slow power drain from the key stuck in the ignition. I'll have to call AAA to get a jump tomorrow if I want to go anywhere. So, on it goes. My husband suggested taking out a fuse to disconnect the radio. That, perhaps, will stop the power drain since there will be no signal to the radio. Cripes.

I did get another article written for Vibrant Nation, though. At least there's time for that; perhaps also the opportunity to get consultant work off the ground. Actually, I have no idea what's going to happen next. I'm keeping myself pretty busy, though. That part's good!

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Ready, Aim, Fired

Damn, I wasn't expecting this bit of news: I work as a contractor for a hospital in the Boston area and a rather unexpected round of budget cuts equaling job cuts was just announced. Guess who got laid off? Yep, you guessed it.

To add insult to injury, they're pushing for immediate terminations of support staff throughout the hospital. My last day will be tomorrow. Now, remember, no one had any idea this was going to happen – including the department head and my supervisor – this morning. One day to go from having a job to not having a job.

Well, fuck. I wonder if any of the people making these budget decisions stop to think about their impact on those affected. Can't they even stretch it out to the end of the week? One day?

Who are these people? Do they have families to feed, mortgages to pay? Will the world come to an end if an employer extends to people who are hired and who work in good faith a few days to make preparations?

What the hell is this world coming to? Or, more to the point, what the hell HAS this world come to?

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Dinner Tonight

I've been blitzed all day. The new meds I'm taking make me drowsy, even the anti-inflammatory. It seems to be making a difference though. I'm much less sore today than I was yesterday. Drier weather might also be a contributing factor.

I went to a regional career center today, to get information about state-funded training. A few boosts to my technical skills would enhance my hireability overall. Trouble is, it's expensive. I'm looking into all avenues and state help (since I'm current not employed) is something to consider for sure.

Found out something a bit shocking. Each regional center gets periodic funding from the state and federal governments, beginning July 1. Because of the economy and resulting demand, this particular center is almost out of training money a month and a half after getting it! They also said they got no more money this year than last, even though the economy has worsened considerably. They'll start a waiting list in November for training that they'll be able to fund beginning in January. Pretty sad. I guess tax breaks for banks are more important than our own people's needs.

Anyway, onto dinner. I was too tired to prepare anything and Aram came home stuffed from a teacher's meeting, which included lunch. He conked out, and so did I for a while. Problem is, I was starving when I got up. Aram had brought some corn home, and we still had one tomato. I dug around in the fridge and came up with a little bit of fresh mozzarella. Then I snipped some basil out back and made myself a tomato-mozzarella-basil salad with some olive oil and salt. Munched that with the corn for dinner, then had a peach for dessert.

A real summertime meal!

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