The Real Reason for Long Term Unemployed

In 1979 America had a major energy crisis, mostly blamed on the Iranian government reducing exports and inflating oil prices. This caused the country to go into a prolonged recession.  Our own government made this worse, by trying to help, in changing monetary policy, which knowingly drove up inflation to incredible levels.

The early 1980’s recession caused many people out of jobs, and many were unemployed for a long period.  Long term unemployed isn’t new to our country.  There is one major difference between the early 1980’s and today.

The internet.

From the New York Times:

“technology has made unemployment less lonely. Tyler Cowen, an economist at George Mason University, argues that the Internet allows men to entertain themselves and find friends and sexual partners at a much lower cost than did previous generations.”

You see in 1980 when a man was unemployed he had nothing to do but sit and think about being unemployed.  He could tinker around the house, but eventually that list of “To Dos” got done, and all you had to keep you company was the endless thought of “I’m unemployed”.

Today, you have an endless thought of “well, only one more click” which sends you down a rabbit hole you won’t come out of for hours!

Like most Republicans, I’m just going to blame the internet for this problem.

I remember my Dad forcing me out of the house to find a job.  I had to physically walk into a location to request an application, fill it out, hand it back to the manager, and see what happens next.  I also had to walk to school, in the snow, uphill, both ways.

We all know, now, no one walks in an employer and applies.  We sit at home and apply to five thousand jobs and get around four thousand five hundred email do not reply ‘we received your application’ responses (500 companies still haven’t figured out that reply functionality on their ATS).

I would love a study of the long term unemployed that would ask that one question:

“How many times have you physically gone to a place of employment and applied in person for a position?”

I would guess that number would be very low.  I’m not saying that just doing this would solve long term unemployment.  It might help some individuals get a job.  I’m saying the internet makes it too easy for you to stay unemployed.

Turn off House of Cards on Netflix.  Take a shower. Get a new haircut. Put one some clean clothes and let’s go visit some people. It’s hard to do, which means not many are doing it, which means you will have an advantage over almost everyone.  The internet won’t solve your problem. In fact, it’s probably making your problem worse.

5 thoughts on “The Real Reason for Long Term Unemployed

  1. If people choose to take a “Netflix hiatus”, why would we try to dissuade them?. Lets just make as easy as possible for them to get back to work whenever they are done with whatever they needed to do/watch.

  2. Ah, the nostalgic look at the way things used to be! Given my age, and that comment just makes me sound old, I appreciate the story and reference, Tim! But basically, there is an avenue for ‘pounding the payment’ today and that is networking, like Rob commented. I have rarely been hired by conventional means and opportunities are out there and sometimes don’t even appear on the IoTs! Thanks for the trip down memory lane and the insight for our colleagues who are looking for their next great opportunity.

  3. Being one of those long term unemployed, this sounds all too familiar. I’ve been the “bridesmaid” in this employment wedding dance many times (even have the 27 dresses to prove it, haha ) and not the bride. Five positions were taken off the offer stage as either no longer in budget or they just changed their minds, or in other language, postponed the wedding. Their words were “We really like you, can you hang on for another six months?” No, sorry, the engagement is off. Like Alice, I have gone down the rabbit hole of online applications….does it really take an hour to apply for this management job? Why can’t ATS programs all parse or the recruiter actually READ a resume instead of having to cut/paste the info in your system again? I do the network thing, attending association meetings, chatting with my contacts, looking for an open door. Would love to attend SHRM conference but what unemployed person has +$1000 to spend on it? My family wants to eat now and then instead of waving me good bye as I head to Vegas. The saving grace is that I have been home to care for my ailing father, see him through two surgeries and the further loss of memory. I have to believe that’s been the “plan” for me, I was needed here instead of sitting in a building conducting employee conversations about why he just has to hug all his subordinates and tell them how cute they look today. Is the employment situation better today than last year? Certainly. I’m preparing for another round of speed applying, kind of like speed dating and hoping my contacts can set me up with a blind date resulting in a lasting relationship and marriage……mmm, that’s long term employment with a fabulous employer!

  4. Hadn’t really thought about it this way. My view had always been that when you’re unemployed, your full-time gig is to find a job. Despite online applications, the real magic still happens pounding the pavement and having a coffee with someone who might know someone who might know someone…

    Which brings me to my next point: I’ve had one job in my life that was a traditional post-apply-be hired. The rest were all driven by my network. #gotalktopeople could be the new recruiting hashtag!

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