Friday, September 16, 2011

The Economy isn't Bad. . . Yet.

A buddy of mine, Richard, introduced me to the "fast food service economic indicator" several years ego.  It states that in a good economy/job market service at fast food (any lower wage job will suffice) will get worse because these places are finding it hard to find and keep employees.  This is because these people will find other better paying jobs and move on.  On the flip side, in a bad economy/job market your service should be better as better trained people stay in these jobs and the companies are able to pick and choose who they hire and fire. 

As I write this, fast food service has not gotten any better.  Neither has service at wal-mart, or the grocery store.  The people waiting tables haven't gotten more competent or any friendlier.  This may be due to my general location as I live around Boston and service is never as friendly as what I was used to down south.  But, I don't think job competency has gone up either.  So the economy isn't bad enough to have moved over qualified people into these jobs... yet. 

Wait, nevermind.  You can get unemployment for up to about, what, 2 years now.  Why would anyone take a lower wage job and actually work for their salary when they can collect one for nothing (and buy nothing, I mean taking their unemployment letter to a local theater for free movies on thursday afternoons).  Yes, that 55 year old nuclear engineer probably will feel shame working at McDonald's but why doesn't he feel shame picking up a free check.  There was a story I read a few months ago about a farmer that got busted for hiring illegals to harvest his crops.  In a national economy of 9+% unemployment, this farmer was unable to find legal citizens to do this work for $12 an hour.  That is almost $2k a month and over 20k a year.  I realize this is at/below poverty level for a family of three, but there is work out there but Americans are just too "good"/educated to do it.  Our founding fathers are breakdancing in their graves. 

When the "fast food service economic indicator" is failing it means that something is broken in the system.  It means that the lower on the food chain type of companies are not benefitting from the slow economy.  Necessity is the mother of invention.  Right now, the gov is removing the necessity and people are not getting creative with making money.  The "fast food service economic indicator" is good because when people get desperate enough to squeek buy on low wages (and hopefully savings) they start coming up with inovative business ideas and the whole country prospers. 

7 comments:

SQT said...

And one of the proposals of the new jobs bill is to extend unemployment benefits for another year.

My husband knows a guy who turned down a job offer for $55k a year because he was having more fun traveling around while he collected unemployment. It's pretty clear he doesn't realize there may be nothing left to return to when his benefits run out (presuming the government doesn't extend them indefinitely). Maybe when guys like this get desperate you'll start seeing better service at McDonald's.

Our country has totally lost its work ethic. Maybe we can get it back if we dig in our heels and say no to more government handouts. But it's going to be a long process.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Sadly, you are right. SQT is right - so many have lost their work ethic.

Powdered Toast Man said...

I would hire all the homeless people and pay them in food.

M Pax said...

To say people don't want to work is stereotyping. I know people trying their damnedest and getting nowhere. You can't support a family on what McDonald's pays. You can't even buy a tank of gas.

The economy is broken. The system is broken.

Budd said...

There is no doubt that the system is broken. I have supported a family on $8 an hour before. It wasn't pretty and there were a lot of peanut butter sandwiches going around, The wife was picking up $100 a week watching a neighbor's kid and I would get any overtime I could. We survived and still had breathing room. I don't wish that on anyone, but you do what you have to.
I hear a lot of people complain about money. These people usually have iphones, cable, and high speed internet. Of course this is only my experience. I was poor as a child, I know what it is. I don't see a lot of poor. I also continue to see signs on "menial" labor employers doors that never come down. I wouldn't suggest it but a person can work 80 hour weeks at
$6 an hr that is 480 a week or $1600= a month or about 18000+ a year. for one person to work. If they have infants or young children, one parent can stay home and watch neighbor kids for a little bit more. if the kids are older, both parents can pull this double duty. I am not saying it is easy or desirable, in fact it would be miserable, but there have been families that have dealt with this in this way before this crisis and single moms are always doing some kind of magic to put food on the table.

The Golden Eagle said...

I just read something this morning about so-called "voluntary" unemployment--that workers refuse to take lower wages and therefore cause a spike the unemployment rate--and while I'm more inclined to agree with M Pax on the overall picture, you do have a point. Some people are undoubtedly passing up jobs because they feel they're above that kind of work.

SQT said...

Stereotyping? How so? I merely gave an example of a messed up work ethic-- not an argument that people don't want to work. If I were making a sweeping generalization it would be that people are more spoiled now than in generations past and that has affected how hard people are willing to work. It seems like a lot of 20-somethings I've known think they should make an unreasonable amount of money right out of college without paying their dues. You can say *that* is a stereotype, but I believe it's a true one.