Thursday, May 14, 2009

Free Fallin'

I found an updated tally of the number of Americans currently unemployed, and likewise, the number of current job openings. As of April 1, the number of unemployed Americans was around 14 million, while there were less than 2.7 million job openings across the US...that puts it between 5 and 6 people going after every job in the US. In March there were 3 million and last April (2008) there were a bit more than 4 million (but "only" 8 million were put everything in perspective...twice). (As a reference point, in February 2005, there were approximately 5 million job openings for 4 million unemployed Americans, meaning there was a job open for everyone, though a lot of them were part-time or required specialized degrees, as I'll note how far the economy has fallen...).

Now, if you subtract the jobs requiring specialized degrees (PhDs, terminal Master's [MSW for instance]), or specialized skills (accountant, which also qualifies under degrees, and nursing to name two), the opening is approximately 1.5 million. That means there are between 10 and 15 people for every available job in the US right now. That's incredibly unhealthy for the economy, and for our psyche.

This also means if you're a nurse or pursuing a career in nursing, it's smooth sailing for you anywhere in the US with any skill level. The same applies to accountants and certified financial analysts...companies are clamoring for you and there just aren't enough to go around. While positions for other people, who have degrees in things like psychology, communications, or liberal studies, then your options are pretty limited. There are VERY few positions open that only require a degree and any kind of previous work experience or internship.

When will it turn around is the burning question, and one I can't answer. But I can offer some optimism: the government is actively pursuing ways to bridge the gap with more jobs coming down the pipeline in the months to come, more construction projects that almost anyone can apply for, and new apartment complexes for people to live in at a cheaper rate until they can purchase their own home. That's a bit of reprieve, but if everyone loses their jobs, it's no solution whatsoever.

When the job market is stabilized, we can finally sit down and figure out what to do next, but right now, we're still free fallin'.

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