Ostracizing The Losers
The other day Brad Delong asked if we are seeing the creation of an underclass of long term unemployed. Here is some more evidence that we are:
In a current job posting on The People Place, a job recruiting website for the telecommunications, aerospace/defense and engineering industries, an anonymous electronics company in Angleton, Texas, advertises for a "Quality Engineer." Qualifications for the job are the usual: computer skills, oral and written communication skills, light to moderate lifting. But red print at the bottom of the ad says, "Client will not consider/review anyone NOT currently employed regardless of the reason."
In a nearly identical job posting for the same position on the Benchmark Electronics website, the red print is missing. But a human resources representative for the company confirmed to HuffPost that the The People Place ad accurately reflects the company's recruitment policies.
"It's our preference that they currently be employed," he said. "We typically go after people that are happy where they are and then tell them about the opportunities here. We do get a lot of applications blindly from people who are currently unemployed -- with the economy being what it is, we've had a lot of people contact us that don't have the skill sets we want, so we try to minimize the amount of time we spent on that and try to rifle-shoot the folks we're interested in.
There's more evidence that this is fairly widespread at the link.
I don't even know what to say baout this except that it appears we are definitely seeing a sort of systematic stigmatization of the unemployed, from the sick caterwauling of the wingnut gasbags about "lazy" people who just want to stay on the dole, to employers claiming that they are advertising for jobs that nobody wants to this. Apparently, many of the people who have jobs think that they are unique and special John Galtian super-workers, unlike those losers who can't find work. I'm guessing most of those are people who vote Republican.
Here's a normal person's reaction. Judy Conti, federal advocacy coordinator for the National Employment Law Project:
"Not only are these employers short-sighted in their search for the best qualified workers, but they are clearly not good corporate citizens of the communities in which they work. Increasingly, politicians and policy makers are trying to blame the unemployed for their condition, and to see this shameful propaganda trickle down to hiring decisions is truly sad and despicable."
Aside from the fact that "good corporate citizen" has become an oxymoron, I think this correctly captures the phenomenon.
Leo Hindery was on with Spitzer earlier today talking about the unemployment rate and he said that it is actually double the official rate -- or close to 19%. If that's the case, we have a huge, huge problem if our culture decides to cope with this by ostracizing these people. We pretty well managed to abolish most awareness of "there but for the grace of God go I" sense of empathy as it is, but this takes it to an entirely new level. That is a whole lot of people we are going to have to step over on our way to the mall.