Swimming the Unemployment Pool

The unemployment pool is getting to be as full as the one used for swimming in Sherman Oaks recreation center on a July day. I was rubbing elbows, bashing teeth in, Didier Drogba kicking people, but I've finally climbed out, kind of.

Unemployment in LA County was measured at 9.9% for December.

The state Employment Development Department today reported that the December jobless rate was up almost a full percentage point from 8.4% in November. It stood at 5.9% a year earlier.

The rate for Los Angeles County, which like the state number is seasonally adjusted, was 9.9% for December, up from a revised 8.9% for November.

9.3% in the state of California.

Officially the highest in 15 years.

This means that a sizable amount of folks lack legal money-making activites.

If it weren't for the social safety net called my parents, I could've tipped the balance to a full 10% and filed for unemployment, but I wouldn't do that to you guys.

The news of sky-rocketing unemployment is doubly bad for young folks. This fact documented by the NY Times. It probably has to do with the fact that not a lot of people trust us. They think were lazy and pampered. So goes the story of every generation, ever.

And the news gets even worse still for males of color.

But it has also taken its hardest toll on racial minorities. Among men age 25 to 34 — the youngest group in which virtually all have completed their education — there were 1.6 percent fewer jobs for whites, 2.1 percent fewer for Hispanics, and 6.2 percent fewer for blacks.

But wait, wait, not yet finished. Los Angeles County is expecting to lose 144,000 jobs in 2009, according to a forecast from the US Conference of Mayors.

Three Strikes, and were out!

I'm really really really grateful for all that volunteering experience for the job I have now, though. With PTSP. Post-PTSP with the various community organizations in LA. I'm greatful that I even had the opportunity, and the space to do that. One of my UC-Santa Cruz friends, a guy trying to make his dent in the world of journalism, once told me that the way to get in where there wasn't a job was to volunteer. Work for free. Intern. I think it sort of paid off for me, as I end up knowing all the people in and around the organization.

I don't know how that applies across various fields, but it's stuck with me. I think it sorta works. It was a point reinforced by Will Smith's last great movie about pursuing happyness; a man on the streets and his will to survive interning at a brokerage firm's stipend, and eventually making good on it. You know, so many times, it seemed like it happened too fast. He might have changed his passion for glory in 6 months, but it didn't seem like he ever gave up on his dreams of the past. The logic behind volunteering and working your way into a job seems to be built on the premise of becoming familiar with your employer's working culture.

Seems that ultimately what prospective employers want to know is that you "fit" into your job. This idea syncs nicely with that old maxim, "it's not what you know, it's who you know." Most propsective employers have told me many times that while they were impressed by my resume, my cover letter, they ultimately did not hire me because I did not "fit."

When you volunteer (which is just ONE avenue to getting a job besides just basic, good ole-fashioned networking and schmoozing over cocktails) you possibly take away concerns of that "fit." You could show your dedication, your work ethic. As a volunteer immersed into their culture, MAYBE you won't require much orientation or training. But as a rule of thumb, I doubt there are many employers who want to invest their time and money in someone who seems like an outsider and/or is "new", especially in my field.

So, with the job market not in the favor of people of color and young people, where exactly do you go nowadays to get a job?

Film industry which was considered recession-proof has been cutting back, Microsoft laid off a bunch of people, and even super-successful companies like Sony and Google have even lost money. Even college-educated Chinese folks feel the pinch.

Despite virtually everyone having lost something, there has been growth elsewhere.

Those industries growing? Prisons and the military of course! The institutions that thrive upon providing illusions of all kinds, including that of security.

Prisons will eventually cost more than education.

The prison population has grown by 8% since 2003, to more than 173,000. But the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation’s budget has exploded, increasing 79% to $8.5 billion, and is expected to top $10 billion next year.

The report concluded that substance abuse treatment programs, which have cost taxpayers more than $1 billion since 1989, have had no effect on keeping people off drugs so that they don’t end up back in prison.

The average monthly salary of corrections officers has increased 57% during the current decade, to $4,959 a month, according to the department.

Sillen, for his part, has raised salaries for doctors, nurses, dietitians and X-ray technicians to fill long-standing vacancies and recruit more skilled employees. Prison pharmacists, for instance, who had earned less than half the salaries they could get outside the system, have received 64% raises to as much as $123,936 a year.

There is little sign that the growth in the prisons budget will abate any time soon. Prison healthcare spending alone has increased 263% since 2000, to $2.1 billion a year,

Awesome pay if you work within the prison system!

They seem to cost a lot for no real societally-beneficial reason, other than the fact that people make a lot of money from it.

Military getting more applications than usual.

Another lure is the new G. I. Bill, which will significantly expand education benefits. Beginning this August, service members who spend at least three years on active duty can attend any public college at government expense or apply the payment toward tuition at a private university. No data exist yet, but there has traditionally been a strong link between increased education benefits and new enlistments.

Trading your body for knowledge.

If the military nor the corrections system interests you, like just about every other Filipino you know here in the United States, you could do nursing and head into the health care industry. That's one thing that seems to be recession-durable. One of my friends who got a Sociology degree at UC-Riverside is now on track to become a nurse. She's enrolled at Los Angeles City College. One of my b-ball friends who was going to be an electrical engineer decided to switch course and become an Licensed Vocational Nurse (LVN).

However, that's not all necessarily us.

I think most of us in PTSP, the Pilipino organization community, and UCLA generally really love what we do and what we study, which tends to be "impractical", "humanistic", "activist", social sciences stuff (or maybe that's just me), and we tend to follow just that. The job market tends not to smile down on those kind of activities.

I had thought that teaching would be a stable job. However, education across the board K-16 has been ravaged with LAUSD was on the verge of laying-off 2,300 teachers. Teachers! The people actually in the classroom dealing with boogery, smelly little kids. One of my cuzzos, an LAUSD teacher in Watts, says that the lay-offs would have been based on seniority, meaning that the younger folks would've ate the dust on this.

I've done the temp thing, which ranged from attending TV tapings in Studio City to scanning documents all the live long day. I would've loved to have kept on scanning documents for as long as I could to break out of my debts. Unfortunately, my main supervisor, who was kind of an idiot and smelled like she had 15 years of peanut-butter jelly sandwiches stapled to her ass, didn't seem to like me and launched me on my merry way.

There might be some hope within the green jobs industry. Obama's got the green thing going for him and is part of his proposed stimulus. All kinds of job-training and education should be in it. Apparently, 57,000 jobs can be created in National Parks alone. Interesting also is the fact that becoming an urban planner is a great practical job idea. I actually was on track to do that, but obviously I'm not a fan of practicality or stable jobs, so I've decided that I'm going to follow my nose to some kind of professorship or something.

In the meanwhile, it's writing grants, marketing, and doing numerous gigs.

Like the gig below:

Here is one opportunity from the US government that I myself will be taking. And it seems to pay decently.

The Bureau has set up a great website detailing the recruitment effort for Census enumerators. The Census enumerators are meant to go out into their communities and confirm the addresses of almost everyone. The pay is quite good and varies by the geographic location. Here in the San Francisco Bay Area the pay starts at $22.00 an hour.

Yeah, we all need a little paper to survive. The pool is crowded, folks might be drowning. It'd be cool if other PTSPers and other folks within the UCLA community would toss out some of those lifesavers around and yanked others out.

For added inspiration and to close this post out, ladies and gentlemen, Vlade Divac.

1 comment:

Dom said...

good post man. i originally read it a week ago, but didnt get to comment. i can hella relate to it! haha. i'ma have to do an unemployment/reality check post in the near future. i'm working on some material right now and i'll have it up soon.

where's everyone else at???