I got an email from a perturbed reader. Actually he wasn’t a reader of Thousandaire, just a reader of one of the sites I comment on. This was an interesting email, so I want to share it, as well as my response, with all of you.
In fact, I’ve been getting more and more reader emails recently, and I usually put a good amount of time into answering good questions, so you can expect to see more reader email articles in the future.
Today’s email features an angry unemployed person who takes offense to my opinion that I would not hire someone who had been collecting unemployment for more than three months. I’ll let Seth handle the rest of the explanation.
Seth’s Question for the Thousandaire
I stumbled upon your post on Darwin’s Money today. I must take great exception to what you said. Before you shrug me off as a whiny loser liberal, please note that I’m a libertarian (with a small “l”), MBA, former business owner, and I’m fluent in English and Spanish. Now, what you said:
“However, if I were looking to hire people, I would probably not hire someone on unemployment if he had been out of a job for more than, say, three months. If he couldn’t find work in three months, either he wasn’t trying very hard or there is a good reason other people he’s interviewed with didn’t hire him.”
You do realize that the average duration of unemployment is 39.9 weeks, right? And has been hovering around that mark for 3 years now? And those who do reenter the job market often do so with much lower-paying jobs. (Take it from me, I used to make $60K before I got my MBA and now I’m looking at custodian jobs at $25K. That’s a heck of a recovery!)
You come across as smug, and, if you took a walk in my shoes–or the shoes of millions like me–, you certainly wouldn’t have said what you said.
Long-term unemployment has a human face. Watch the blanket statements. Hope this sinks in.
The Thousandaire Response
I’m glad you emailed me.
Why wouldn’t I hire someone who has been unemployed for three months?
We are at 9.2% unemployment, but that’s for the whole workforce. You have an MBA, which puts you in the “Bachelor’s Degree or Higher” category. Unemployment there is only 4.4%. That means 95.6% of people who have bachelors degrees and want to work already have jobs.
This means, in general, unemployed people with a college education are the lowest performing 4.4% of the population. We live in a free market, and if they were better than the employed people, they would find their way into the workforce while the worst of the employed would find themselves laid off. That’s the beauty of America.
Now I do understand that some of the 4.4% are truly high performing, highly skilled workers who were victims of circumstance. For example, a company going out of business, an entire department getting cut, or looking at the boss’s daughter the wrong way at the Christmas party.
I would expect these high performing individuals to find gainful employment fairly quickly after losing their jobs, assuming they have skills the workforce needs. That’s why I would consider hiring someone who was on unemployment for three or fewer months: because they have potential to truly be a high performing worker.
Once you get past three months of unemployment, I’m going to assume you’re in the bottom 4.4% of potential employees, and I don’t want you. I will readily admit that I could be wrong about some individual people, but in general I believe in the American free market and labor force, and I expect this to be true in most cases.
Luckily for you, I don’t own any companies, so my opinion on the long term unemployed doesn’t have any practical implications on your job search.
Now to address my “smugness” and my lack of experience walking in your shoes, well… the reason I haven’t walked in your shoes, or the shoes of millions like you, is not simply that I am blessed with good luck (even though I will admit that I have been very lucky).
I earned an engineering degree from a top-15 university, worked my tail off to get a job offer from a great company doing exactly what I want to do, and have been a top performer at my job since the day I started. I’ve also made sure to move into the fastest growing division in the company where our biggest problem is that we can’t hire people fast enough.
Each one of those things was a conscious effort on my part to position myself in a great job with loads of job security. That’s why I’m not walking in your shoes right now.
I Wouldn’t Hire Long Term Unemployed
If I did have a business, I wouldn’t hire long term unemployed people. It would be my right as an American and as a business owner to choose my staff as I see fit.
Too many people forget that businesses exist to make money, not to create jobs. There’s a name for ensuring everyone, no matter how unskilled or unmotivated, has a job: socialism.
Oh, and to complete the email, I did try to help Seth find a job. I gave him the website of a company that I know is hiring and I truly do wish him well. Unemployment sucks for everyone; the unemployed person and his family, the economy, and the taxpayers. Good luck Seth, and good luck to everyone else out there looking for work. Though hard work is key in landing and securing any job, a degree of any kind can certainly help you get in the door and open windows for you. Read right here about top 10 MBA programs that you can get online.
Just don’t apply to Thousandaire if you’ve been on unemployment for too long.