Book Trailer The Noble Train

Monday, April 20, 2009

The Wolves will come--our invisible unemployed

We will forget them. How long were you there? Twenty five years. Just like that. You? Fifteen years. Just like that. Did you notice how fast the day goes when you are unemployed? I'm not good at this. I just want a job. They are here again. The coffee house lost days of the unemployed. Me and them. We are all invisible now. Writers are always invisible, but now all these men are invisible too. Many will never return. The recession will end and they will not find purchase in this new economy.

The dirty secret. In this culture if you become old then you are done. Passed over for the younger employee. They are wandering around in my domain now. I have always been the inverse of the working man, haunting the coffee houses of midday with a laptop and a book. But now they are here. I can hear them now. How long have you been off. A year. A year and a half. Who is your headhunter? Can you get a job anywhere now? For a lot of people this is a new sensation. For the first time highly educated people have been made redundant. The best and the brightest of other generations are pounding the pavement. Could it be there are just too many people now?

Like the housing market we are awash in too much inventory. There are too many people looking for work. Who will employ these millions. College students join the ranks every day and they are young. They can give sweat and effort. What can the older experienced worker give in the new economy? We don't' really know. All we know is that there are so many people looking for positions that have dried up or have been eliminated. We have seen this before in the blue collar industries. People replaced by robots or factories closed and jobs shipped overseas. But now the people who always assumed they would have a job have been put out to pasture years ahead of retirement. The old economy died under them and they have no place to go.

Will our new cyber based green economy snatch up these people. Will our new energy efficient Juggernaut need all this old economy talent. Or have we created a cyber world where people are pushed aside with the click of a mouse. Can we have an economy that needs all those people skills or does that belong to a brick and mortar world gone by?

I don't have an answer and neither does anyone else right now. But they are here. And we will ignore them when it all starts up again. They will become invisible, members of the permanent unemployed. The Indians used to leave their older members behind on the prairie with wood for a fire and a blanket. When the wood burned out they would freeze to death. Then the wolves would come.

Books by William Hazelgrove