Friday Rant: Unemployed Need Not Apply — Supply Chain Social Darwinism

Just released U.S. employment figures show that the jobless rate dropped to 9.7 percent in May from 9.9 percent in April and Reuters claims that the rate "may not fall much further before U.S. congressional elections in November." Additionally, "Economists polled by Reuters thought there would be a gain of 190,000 private-sector jobs last month. Instead, it was just 41,000 ... [despite] Census jobs account[ing] for 411,000 of the net gain of 431,000." And to boot "retailers cut 6600 jobs in May, contributing to a far weaker-than-expected reading on private sector payrolls."

For unemployed persons actively seeking employment these figures are daunting at best. But if you happen to be among the nearly 14 million out of work, you've likely noticed a new caveat appearing in a number of job postings over the past few weeks: "Unemployed need not apply."

Google the latter phrase and you'll find hundreds of recent links to local newspapers throughout the country. One of those links from Florida's Sun Sentenial claims "Recruitment experts say many companies believe it could take longer to get 'passive applicants' up to speed in professions that require constant training. They also say people who have not been laid off are believed to be the best and most valuable in the fields."

This week's WSJ further reports that "Nearly half of the unemployed -- 45.9% -- have been out of work longer than six months, more than at any time since the Labor Department began keeping track in 1948... [and] The typical unemployed worker, regardless of occupation, had been unemployed for a seasonally adjusted 21.6 weeks as of April."

So gee, we don't really have an employment problem -- it's just a matter of natural selection. Forget about the economy. If you can't find a job regardless of how much you network and how many positions you apply for, it's your fault. This kind of Herbert Spencer / Horatio Alger "survival of the fittest" social philosophy will only make matters worse for the millions of unemployed. Sure, some people looking for work may never have been at the top of their game. But mercenary and cruel generalizations that preclude unemployed applicants are absurd.

To assume that an unemployed person with a previously impressive job history and long-term experience is dead-on-arrival only contributes to the personal malaise that 14,000,000 Americans find themselves in. It also deprives corporations of the myriad advantages of having appreciative, dedicated and loyal employees who have honed their office and business acumen throughout their working lives. To wit, how do companies who espouse such despicable myopic generalizations ever expect to see a revival in the consumer spending that will be essential to a full recovery.

Hiring policy managers take heed. Do you honestly believe you will never be unemployed?

William Busch

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