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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Income

Friend #1 has worked as a buyer at the same company for ten years. It was purchased by a huge conglomerate and the Hayward location is being closed completely by April 1st.  At age fifty, my friend was lucky. His former boss created an opening at a different business for my friend at three-quarters of his current pay.
Friend #2 looked for eleven months for a position, secured it, and was successfully building a book of business against a strong competitor. The competitor merged with her company. There are now too many sales people for the new arrangement. A forty year old mother of two is looking for work.
Another company was taken over by a national competitor. Friend #3 was promised continued job but it turns out the job is fifty miles from his house. Two of the office locations have shut down. It looks possible that the technical division he ran will be outsourced. He will be looking for a new career path at age fifty-eight.
This is 2014.
According to Forbes Magazine, “The average worker today stays at each of his or her jobs for 4.4 years, according to the most recent available data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, but the expected tenure of the workforce’s youngest employees is about half that.” http://www.forbes.com/sites/jeannemeister/2012/08/14/job-hopping-is-the-new-normal-for-millennials-three-ways-to-prevent-a-human-resource-nightmare/.
NPR recently discussed the lack of motivation in the Millennium+ generation. Why do they need to be following the Puritanical work ethics? I grew up with my parents working hard to get ahead. My father and mother were better off than their parents as was I. I could build a better life.
The twenty year olds today cannot find work even after college. They watched as their parents purchased bad or illegal loans for their dream homes that were taken away. Many are homeless or in rentals. Companies close at an alarming rate. Downsizing is a business tool to stabilize expense. Job security does not exist in any field. Even government positions go away when a City goes bankrupt. Why in the world would you buy into—“go to college, get a good job and plan your retirement?” You are only going to be with your next job two to five years at best.
Our world is undergoing a monumental shift from an industrial age to information age. We are still educating our youth that they will hold positions that my parents held. We all know that it no longer exists but we want to believe that it is still possible. “Do you want fries with that? Or welcome to Wal-Mart,” seems to be a likely scenario for those of us hitting a shifting employment wall.  Many of us hide our higher education achievements because a bachelors or masters could force us out of the competition for a middle income job.
Friend #2 was promised a compensation package that will allow her to earn a six figure income. Once she finally met their top sales person—number one in world sales—he told her that he had never made more than $55,000 because the commission structure would change to limit his income. Now they both face job loss.
There are jobs out there. Many of which were created in this century. Spending money to be educated in a new field is an option only if you can recoup your costs within the four and a half years you will be employed there. The younger generation seems to be sitting on mom and dad’s couch waiting for the world to change. Meanwhile mom and dad have side businesses ranging from make-up, to jewelry, diet supplements, and online retailing, to make up for loss income and periods of unemployment.

The keynote speakers at three of college graduations I attended were—Steve Jobs, The Smothers Brothers, and a college student that founded Togo’s Sandwiches.  Not one of these people graduated from college. If success in our current society is outside of the mainstream, then why are we standing in the water?