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Monday, January 26, 2015

A 2015 Man's Life: The New Working Economy of Males (Personally Experienced)

Nowadays, whole families abroad in "emerging markets" do a man's job, a substantial part of his life, but there, the ages are 15-39. But here's a money stat

"The poll found that 85 percent of prime-age men without jobs do not have bachelor’s degrees. And 34 percent said they had criminal records, making it hard to find any work." 

So these men are either undereducated or integrity-challenged. But we don't want to change that stat too quickly. The first, would take 4-6 years, if you can afford that amount of time; the later, well, a lifetime, if ever.

As Wall Street cowboys rode a bull market for 5 years (see above), and Fortune 500 companies sit on substantial coffers of cash, the rodeo riders from Rodeo Drive to Silicon Valley to FDR Drive in NYC just can't bear to offer jobs with a decent wages to anyone they feel doesn't "deserve" the next chance.

"They’re not working, because it’s not paying them enough to work,” said Alan B. Krueger, a leading labor economist and a professor at Princeton. “And that means the economy is going to be smaller than it otherwise would be.”

I understand this predicament. I worked a delivery route for 7 years; it paid enough, in theory, to pay my immediate families basics. However, I didn't have all the control on how this passable wage was spent. After that, I took a job hiatus, and risked a lot to improve education, in the hopes of landing better work. I did, and I have...but it was years in the coming for both the reasons above.

As the NY Times article linked states: 

"Like turtles flipped onto their backs, many people who stop working struggle to get back on their feet. Some people take years to return to the work force, and others never do. And a growing body of research finds that their children, in turn, are less likely to prosper.

'The long-run effects of this are very high,' said Lawrence F. Katz, a professor of economics at Harvard. 'We could be losing the next generation of kids.'
 Let us not forget, even if you despise the sinner, the unemployable man, you should forgive the sin, else, you will foist more problems on his offspring.

I did as the man below did in the article, nearly a copy:
"José Flores, 45, who lives in St. Paul, said that after losing a job as a translator for the University of Minnesota’s public health department in 2011, he struck a deal with his landlord to pay $200 a month instead of $580, in exchange for doing odd jobs. He has a cellphone that costs $34 a month and an old car he tries not to drive, and 'if I really need clothes or shoes, I go to the thrift store.' He picks up occasional work translating at hospitals, but he has not looked for a regular job since August.

'If for some reason I cannot live in the apartment where I live anymore, then that will be basically a wake-up call for me to wake up and say for sure I need a full-time job,' Mr. Flores said. He added, 'If I start working full time the rent will increase' — because he would no longer be available for odd jobs.

This is a real problem, folks with more ideal lives. Ones that didn't make life-altering mistakes (prison), and then, had life-shaking circumstances (mother's dementia and cancer) along with family-less help. While we say, "Take action," appropriately, some do so out of short-term getting by against the hopes of a long-term improvement path. Flores did so; and so did I from 2010-2014.

I took odd jobs - painted, cleaned out and repaired dorm rooms at Purdue Village in 2012; taught at Purdue - TAed - for a Microsoft Office class. Landed, luckily, a high-paying contract job for 4 months. Mostly, though, I skimped like Jose did - $325 per month on rental room (with electric, heat, water, and wi-fi included) and lived off student loans, now at $70,000, but have only 1 course left for an MBA.

Other reasons embedded in the New York Times article show it's a tough world: 

“When the legal, entry-level economy isn’t providing a wage that allows someone a convincing and realistic option to become an adult — to go out and get married and form a household — it demoralizes them and shunts them into illegal economies,” said Philippe Bourgois, an anthropologist at the University of Pennsylvania who has studied the lives of young men in urban areas. “It’s not a choice that has made them happy. They would much rather be adults in a respectful job that pays them and promises them benefits.”

Illegal - does not mean just drugs and weapons and bad dealings. It means "black" as in cash-only and off-the-books of otherwise respectable enough businesses. People are bartering for services - I also did some work for my landlord for cash. And worked in 2014 for a guy putting together a beat-up old home. So, I scrapped and painted and moved his belongings. $1,600 came in handy.

Again, the facts are saddening for the ones actually looking for a job (the map above show the non-working rate): 
Mr. Katz, the Harvard economist, said, however, that some men might choose to describe themselves as unwilling to take low-wage jobs when in fact they cannot find any jobs. There are about 10 million prime-age men who are not working, but there are only 4.8 million job openings for men and women of all ages, according to the most recent federal data.
Millions of men are trying to find work. And among the 45 percent of men who said they had looked in the last year, large majorities said that to get a job they would be willing to work nights and weekends, start over in a new field, return to school or move to a new city.

In 2015, a man's life is more fixed or tied to this new, transient economy, and is less a matter of friction with work or workplaces: as in job swapping, and seeking out more pay. Instead, it seems a man's value has to come from an internal source of pride, and no longer, the external joys of hugs by family around the hearth after a long day at work - a work that will be availed him daily.
A man's life isn't like it once was for his grandpop in America. The Salad Days of post-WWII work are indeed gone.
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