Monday, August 4, 2014

How badly does the economy suck?

Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, K-Mart, Lulabelles, Ankh, Aqua Care, Golf Smith, Avenue, Sesame, Tony's Party Shop, Walden Books, Food Lion, New Fitness World and more have all closed within the last year or two and this is just in Irmo, South Carolina. That's not too far from where I live now and I used to live in Irmo. Lexington has fared no better. Stores and businesses have closed and gone under. Premises lie vacant. Indeed, in the dead heart of Lexington several buildings have been demolished and the area grassed over. For more on what's closed, see Columbia Closings.

Since Barnes & Noble closed - where I used to work, I have applied for literally thousands of positions ranging from roles in my field to wildly different roles in production, in sales, in administration - even driving vans and nothing has ever been heard from most of those positions. I've applied for positions ranging from well beneath my capabilities to positions I'm capable of and those that I'd have to pick up something along the way to complete. Few have ever received a response. This is my stack of recorded job applications.
There were the three jokers that assumed I was a woman and then when they discovered I'm not, rescinded their job interview offers. I make a point of not specifying gender on any applications. The job market is getting much tougher than it was when I started working for Barnes & Noble. If it came down to wearing fishnets and a miniskirt or not having a job, I'd probably even buy some lipstick!

One of the scary things I hear is that people that work for some fast food joints are paid minimum wage ($7.25 an hour) and after they clock off for the end of their shift, they're required to work cleaning the place without pay. I've been told that if they refuse they get fired. It's like a friend of mine that worked for one of those home-based call centers. She was paid $7.20 an hour and had to be in conferences for an hour after she had clocked off and had to be online for half an hour before she clocked in. That means 90 minutes of work each day that was not paid. There is little doubt that the worse the economy becomes, the more staff and particularly the low-waged are exploited.

So what is the way forward? It does not look in any way that the "recession" has ended. In fact it looks more as though it's getting worse. Every few months new figures come out that say there are less people recorded as being unemployed. The fact is that after 20 - 26 weeks unemployment runs out and though one may well still be jobless, it doesn't count any more on the unemployment figures. The spectre of people having to live on the streets is very real. I myself face this in the not too distant future if work does not arrive. With enough people suffering homelessness and deprivation, could this potentially be the start of a 2nd American revolutionary war between the deprived and the deprivers? There are enough unemployed ex servicemen to make a new revolutionary army.

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