Americans are still feeling the pain of a slow economic recovery even after two years the recession officially ended. The total number of unmployed people rose to 14.1 million in June, with 6.3 million remaining jobless for 6 months or more.
The road to recovery is much longer for low income households despite President Obama’s proposals to increase government projects and implementing Social Security tax cuts to fuel the economy. Low income Americans have lost more jobs than they have gained in the past two years and even for those that have obtained jobs, people with a lack of education are at a disadvantage and African Americans and Hispanics are also earning less wages. Not surprisingly, the recession has hit the lower income brackets the hardest.
But even as new positions become available, the competition is fierce. Many claim that there are simply more people out of work than there are jobs to fill. The irony is that there are currently 3.2 million open jobs in this country, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Construction, hospitality, food services and recreation make up the sectors with the most available jobs. So where is the disconnect for people who need to get to work?
Jobless benefits hang in the balance, as the government decides whether to extend unemployment insurance. With no benefits in place, families in need receive no regular check to help make ends meet. For low-income individuals who most often lack the security of a rainy day savings account, finding employment is that much more serious.
Imagine the challenge faced by those who lack resources and a good education, who don’t quite have a command of the English language, and who are uneasy with the interviewing process. More times than not, their job options become limited to low-wage positions. “The chances of new immigrant Hispanics finding good employment with opportunities for advancement to management and higher paying position are severely limited,” writes Juan Rodriguez, a Hispanic and diversity expert. He attributes it to the fact that many choose low-paying laborer jobs that help them survive, and don’t require them to invest the time to learn English. (more)
There are some efforts out there to help put more people to work.
For instance, the Department of Health and Human Services is doing its part with the Jobs for Low-Income Individuals program, which provides up to $500,000 to non-profit organizations to create jobs and business opportunities to be filled by the most economically disadvantaged. The question is: Will these jobs help the poor accumulate wealth?
Another, more inventive way to help the neediest is by providing them with quick access to tools that can strengthen their place in the job market. They need strategic and effective ways to stand out to employers. They need ways to overcome the hurdles that may be preventing them from landing a higher-wage position. Technology is the key.
Job Search – Sites, Networking, and Mobile Apps:
Low income individuals are at a significant disadvantage when job searching due to their lack of existing networks. While a CEO’s network has highly paid, well-connected individuals, a low income worker’s network includes family members and other low income workers that may not lead to better job opportunities. Surveys of 1,100 low income jobseekers showed that 75% had fewer than 5 people who could offer help with finding a job. Often times referrals for new workers come primarily from internal recommendations, so a company’s hiring pool often comes from the same class of people as their existing workforce. It is critical in this competitive market to leverage existing relationships during job search and for job retention – 88% of a group of employers hiring for lower skilled positions reported using informal referrals to recruit workers. Lastly, once placed, job retention requires skills in building an social network within the company to advance and thrive at a job. According to Julie A. Kmec, associate professor of sociology at Washington State University, “Broadly speaking, social networks affect hire outcomes and post-hire outcomes such as job reward, job performance, satisfaction, and turnover.”
Apps That Should Be
Published by Kanae Mori via Simply Hired
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Mass Layoffs Report, September 2010
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Issues in Labor Statistics, September 2010
Council of Economic Advisors, The Economic Impact of Recent Temporary Unemployment Insurance Extensions, 2010
Kiviat, Barbara, Time, Rich people still have jobs, poor people don’t, February 2009
Mashable, iPhone Job Search Apps, March 2009
Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Job Opportunities for Low-Income Individuals, September 2010
Ties that Bind? Race and Networks in Job Turnover. Julie A. Kmec, Washington State University http://cooley.libarts.wsu.edu/jkmec/SP5404_041.pdf