Saturday, October 06, 2012

Job market makes ordinary older workers "justify" themselves

The Wall Street Journal has an editorial Saturday, “Happy Days Are Not Here Again”, and questions the significance of the slightly lower unemployment rate (7.8%) reported this past week right after the presidential debates.  Check the link here

When I got laid off at the end of 2001 and took my severance and retirement package from ING at age 58 (and it was pretty generous, compared to what most people even then got), I still faced a world where, at least until retirement age as Social Security sees it, I was likely to face a lot of interim jobs, and face the idea of “paying my dues” again.

Part of the problem was that retirement packages then assumed you would start taking Social Security at 62 (the Social Security Offset). 

The mainframe market, after Y2K and then 9/11, had deteriorated mostly into rotations of gigs for people with lots of accumulated experience in very specific areas (MMIS, Vantage, HIPAA, etc). 

The jobs around for older middleagers tended to emphasize salesmanship and manipulating other people, in a world where people were becoming more independent and didn’t like to be approached the way people in previous generations had taken as normal.  I did wind up working for 14 months in “telemarketing” for the Minnesota Orchestra Guaranty Fund – and that job actually provided some stability.  Since that time, telemarketing rules have tightened, and even I resist getting marketing calls or donations, and tend not to answer the landline phone.

I also worked as a debt collector, and later as a census taker (the 2010 diennial and then with the Current Population Survey).  These involved approaching people and getting them to “cooperate”.

I also would vet the idea of becoming a TSA screener, and the initial processing (in a hotel) in 2002, is quite an experience.  Could I accept the regimentation of a job like this in uniform, which constant focus and concentration, and handling people, perhaps intimately?

In 2004 I took the tests to be a letter carrier (including the "memory for addresses" section and an inductive reasoning section on sequences) and was almost offered jobs twice -- once as a rural carrier (too hard on car) and then on foot, which would have been a very "physical" job, I was told.  (And you have to be accurate, starting with "casing" the mail.)  The inability to get my medical records from Minnesota (HIPAA makes it very hard) was all that nixed this. TIP: When you move to another city, make sure you check on how you will get any health care records later;  some are not kept for more than four years, and some employers might need to see records of past surgeries.

And in Minneapolis, in 2003, I actually looked at becoming a cabbie.  You rent the cab for $400 a week and are "self-employed".  Sounds like you have to learn to drive aggressively. You need a physical.

I did work for about three years as a substitute teacher, which I have written about elsewhere a lot.  That was probably, in the end, the most interesting of the interim jobs. 

I think I have discussed the approaches made to me about becoming a life insurance agent or tax advisor. Sure, I would "love" to peddle financial and tax schemes to "families".  Oh, yes, new agents need to generate leads and get a "fast start".  Actually, my resistance to these "opportunities" does deserve further explanation.

The attitude of the workplace is that you have to justify your “right” to a normal income, and now even manipulate your online and social media experience for the benefit of the employer (since Facebook says you have only “one identity”).  

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