Tuesday Trivia: How Many Americans Applied For 36 Ice Cream Maker Jobs?

Tyler Durden's picture

Of all the case studies in our "it is easier to get into Harvard than to get a job at X" series (flight attendants, Goldman summer interns, McDonalds, etc), this one may be our favorite because it captures at its core, just how "strong" the US economic "recovery" truly is for all those who don't have a spare million or two in financial assets to throw at the levitating, centrally-planned markets. As the WaPo reports, when a Maryland ice cream plant, shut down in 2011 and subsequnetly was brought back to life when a Co-op of dairy farmers purchased it in the summer of 2013 to process milk and icream, sent out "jobs wanted" notices to fill some three dozen open job positions, it got a surprise: 1,600 applicants (and counting) "a deluge" - 44 applicants for every position - or nearly three times more difficult than getting into Harvard to get a simple job... To make ice cream!

But that's not the punchline. The punchline: the name of the ice cream plant? "Good Humor."

Indeed, how can one possibly doubt that the US recovery is in full swing after reading the following:

Many applicants are desperate former employees still without work in a county with 7.3 percent unemployment and in an economy where manufacturing job openings now require more specialized abilities than the lower-skilled positions that have gone overseas or, in the case of Unilever, to Tennessee and Missouri, where labor and operating costs are cheaper.


Wall Street is booming, the Federal Reserve is paring back its stimulus, there are bidding wars for houses again, but for blue-collar workers in places like Hagerstown the economic recovery has yet to materialize, and many around town worry that it won’t. Laid-off workers are living week-to-week on unemployment. They’re working temp jobs and trying to reeducate themselves. They are trying to save their houses from foreclosure.


“You’d think that after 20-some-years working someplace at least somebody would think you are a good person, that you’d show up on time every day, and that would be worth something,” said Luther Brooks, a 50-year-old single father of four who lost his $40,000-a-year pasteurization job at the ice cream plant. “But I can’t get nothing. I’ve tried.”

For some it was a moment of hope, quickly turning to despair:

One worker who went through the job training program was starting over after 28 years at the plant as a mechanic. He met his wife on the job. He had been working third shift — the graveyard shift — at the plant for years, and it was taking its toll.


When the plant closed, “I wasn’t really depressed,” he said. “I was ready for a change.”


He got a truck driver’s license, but he wound up taking a job working on a dairy farm. There weren’t many other options. He was earning $26 an hour making ice cream. He’s making $13 an hour now. His wife is studying to be a nurse.


“We have no benefits at all,” he said. “We’re going to look into the Obamacare thing if we can ever get online to do it.”

And then you will have to pay for it too, but that's a bridge the welfare state will cross when it comes to it.

The comments from the job seekers, some successful, are as expected priceless:

“I’ve been hounded on Facebook,” said the 60-year-old mechanic who had been working in lawn care before he got hired back. He has told the job seekers, “Put in a résumé; put in an application.”


“I’d even take a hand-packing job just to start,” he said, meaning a job stuffing boxes with ice cream. “I didn’t even get a call.”


“Workers need to be a step above what their fathers and grandfathers were capable of doing,” Fuchs said. “The manufacturing employees of today need to be cross-skilled. They need to know how to do a lot. It’s not just monitoring a machine and pushing a button when you’re supposed to.”

Well what about two buttons, namely CTRL and P?

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WarHorse's picture

"Wall Street is Booming"


Really?  Take a look at the financials ....

TeamDepends's picture

The White House has also been deluged with applicants seeking a fudge packing position.

Ying-Yang's picture

It's the American Scream!

A long long time ago.... in a far far away place called America, there used to be labor shortages every now and then. I wonder why labor shortages vanished?

Techniques for measuring the existence and level of shortages in the labor force of a nation's economy are complex and controversial. Sometimes alleged labor shortages are used by employers to justify the importing of temporary foreign labor (in the U.S., this would mean using the H-1 or L-1 Visa Program to import each foreign worker). Mainstream organized labor groups and other critics of such practices argue that the laws of supply and demand ought to correct such shortages as more citizens enter a field when wages go up due to the shortage. The more cynical critics charge that companies seeking foreign labor are in fact hypocritically lobbying the government to allow them to evade the free market rules that most such employers claim to cherish, simply so that they may hire cheaper and/or more docile employees.

Wages as a factor in labor shortages

Wage levels have been suggested as one way to measure a labor shortage. However, this often does not match people's common perceptions. For example, if wages alone are the best measure of labor shortages, then that would imply that we should be importing doctors instead of farm workers because doctors are far more expensive than farm workers. However, there are institutionally-imposed limits on the number of doctors that are allowed to be licensed. If foreign migrant workers were not allowed into a nation, then farm wages may go up, but probably not enough to approach the wages of doctors.

The Atlantic slave trade (which originated in the early 17th century but ended by the early 19th century) was said to have originated due to perceived shortages of agricultural labor in the Americas (particularly in the American South). As this was the only means of malaria resistance available at the time. Ironically malaria seems to itself have been introduced to the "New World" via the slave trade.

Apparent shortages and multitudes of skills

A possible conundrum is whereby there may be a skills shortage from the employer's perspective but not the employee's perspective. This can happen when many "sub-skills" are involved in the selection process, such as requirements for multiple programming languages and computer tools often found in technical job ads. The phenomenon may account for seemingly contradictory complaints from both large companies and technical professionals regarding visa worker quotas.

The theory suggests that the more skills that are involved, the higher the gap between primary matches and secondary matches. Combing the globe for candidates allegedly increases the chances of a better match. However, it may reduce the chance of a citizen being hired even though on the average their skills are on par. In other words, having a wider choice reduces the chances of a citizen being the best candidate due to probability field increase alone rather than lack of skills on the citizen's part.

A comparable analogy would be the opening of Jewelry store B next to the existing Jewelry store A. Even though store A may have similar prices and selection, their sales will still likely slide downward. A given customer will now purchase from the new store B half the time. Unless more customers in total come to the area, store A sales will be cut in half.

Ah yes... the American Scream.

Stuck on Zero's picture

Guess which ones of the applicants got the jobs?  The ones with the big tits.


Rubbish's picture

I make homemade ice cream every few days and chocolate syrup as needed. I could Ice that job op.

giggler321's picture




FrankDrakman's picture

There are two counter-arguments to your screed, one historical, the other moral.

First, the historical. As I've noted at ZH many times, the US and Canada were unique among developed nations in that they were spared all the physical pounding of WWII (Oz and NZ were just too small and remote to count in 1946). Unlike Britain, France, Germany, Japan, Russia, etc., they didn't have to rebuild roads or factories or houses. This gave North American labour a huge advantage, and until Europe caught up in the 1960's, American workers ruled the roost. However, technological advances such as shipping containers and long distance competition were beginning to erode some of that advantage; it became possible to bring manufactured goods in from off-shore at competitive pricing. It started with European luxury goods - French wines, UK crystal, German cars - and moved on from there. As the PC/Internet revolution took hold, it became almost as easy to co-ordinate a global enterprise as it was a local one, and with the refinement of 'just-in-time' manufacturing, one's supply chain could easily involve the planet.

Jobs which could only be done previously by North Americans with a high school education, and which paid a very high wage, could now be done by a Vietnamese with a few days training at a fraction of the cost. The real barriers which supported high priced North American labour - education, space, and time - had been dissolved. Now, only artificial barriers existed, such as restrictions on visas. So, the historical argument, in a nutshell, is North America had a huge advantage in 1946, and spent most of the next 20 years frittering it away on internal fights (such as UAW strikes) and leaving the education system in the hands of the left which meant a dumb-downed workforce instead of a highly educated and skilled one. When artificial trade barriers were removed thanks to free trade agreements, wages were lowered, as classical economics suggests they would.

Which leads to the moral argument - who ever said Americans (and Canadians) deserved to live 'middle class' lives for lower class work? Why should someone in Toronto or Toledo command $25/hour to do a job for which he can be trained in two days, when someone in Taipei will do it for $5/hr? When the entire world is the market, and you actually believe the American BS about "you get paid according to your effort", you should be glad that people in Asia and South America are getting the chance to pull themselves out of poverty by competing with you. If your kids goofed off at school, learned video game cheat codes instead of calculus, and can't compete with the "3rd world" kids whose parents pushed them, whose fault is that?

This is what kills me about liberals. They are all for helping their fellow man, so long as it's in the abstract, and doesn't actually, you know, impact them

BraveSirRobin's picture

"The White House has also been deluged with applicants seeking a fudge packing position."

Why? What happened to Reggie Love?

Chuck Walla's picture

I weep when I see what these fucks have done to so many people.



Dr. Engali's picture

Yeah they are all trading just short of their 52 week high. The bankers are jumping from the roofs now.

Martial's picture

Actually the real punchline wasn't even highlighted:

"We have no benefits at all,” he said. “We’re going to look into the Obamacare thing if we can ever get online to do it.”


jerry_theking_lawler's picture

Haha. Amateurs...I have one position listed....over 200 applicants from across the country applied. My thoughts. Sad...because I haven't found anyone to fill it yet.

Ying-Yang's picture

Have you thought of giving one of the 200 a shot, then apply a little "on the job training"? I know it is a strange concept these days.

666's picture

I'm confused. How can this be happening when the government says the economy is doing great?


Sudden Debt's picture

needles to say... you don't quallify as junior icecream scooper assistent...

Bluntly Put's picture

You are making the same mistake most people make, you are forgetting the "quality" component of these jobs while getting lost in the quantity details.

Obviously people consider a job at an ice cream factory more desirable than any other part time or temporary job available.

It's quality that's important not quanity unless of course you are talking about debt, then it's quantity that's important not quality. Knowing the difference between quantity and quality makes all the difference, unless you have a bottomless pit of quality-less credit.


101 years and counting's picture

dont know where you get your information, but the fed admits the economy is crumbling every month.  every time they say they will continue to print money, they are telling you the economy is crumbling.

666's picture

But, but, but the Fed is not the government! At least it's not supposed to be...

Freddie's picture

Hope & Change.  Ross Perot warned us of that giant sucking sound when Clinton/GW Gore pushed through NAFTA.  The lying McCain amnesty NeoCon AIPAC RINOs are as bad as the Dems.

Sudden Debt's picture


just say you only have 50 dollar bills and you can't make change. next time... and give them a free obama cracker...

JenkinsLane's picture

Oddly enough, Sir James Goldsmith, a British corporate raider, was the only person other than Perot

to complain bitterly about NAFTA and it's obvious consequences for US blue collar workers. There is a clip

of him floating around on-line where he's arguing with some economist from the CFR about the

benefits, the CFR woman obviously all in favor. 


Just goes to show how few men of any calibre were left even back then. Plus, Goldsmith was arguably

a Vadar-like character. I particularly remember him saying "economies should work for people and not

the other way around."


Temporalist's picture

The woman was Laura Tyson (Pres. Clinton's Chairwoman of Council of Economic Advisors - and all around academic sycophant).  I share this link regularly.  It was an interview on Charlie "Statist Tool" Rose.


Part I



Parts II - V are linked on video


FranSix's picture

This article discounts those using downward mobility to retain job preferences over other applicants.

JustObserving's picture

But, but, but official unemployment is only 7% and falling though Shadowstats claims it is 23%.  So hard to know who is telling the truth.


Dr. Engali's picture

Shadowstats actually includes the people who aren't working, whereas once you've fallen off the system with .gov you are a non-person.

Ranger_Will's picture

I scream! You scream! We ALL SCREAM!

Bernanke'sDaddy's picture

If you like your ice cream, you can keep your ice cream.

Rukeysers Ghost's picture

I scream, you scream, we all scream for a damn job.

dudebum's picture

I'm confused.  How can this be happening when Fox news says all those unemployed folks are lazy bastards who just want to mooch off welfare for the rest of their lives.

Jlasoon's picture

Ice cream is a very technical process that requires a Masters Degree in "Creamatology" and the ability to speak 3 different languages. $12/hr might seem low to you and I, but fact remains that making a custard is a highly complicated process that must only performed by a highly educated individual or a government agent. Haven't you people taken - Physics 16: Mechanics and Special Relativity? 



Sudden Debt's picture


IT'S MINUS 50 degrees outside....






moneybots's picture

So much for the idea that there are plenty of jobs.

DeliciousSteak's picture

Plenty of jobs. They're just concentrated on the service sector. People need to swallow their pride and start wearing those aprons.

Sudden Debt's picture

you have to look at the bigger picture here,,.

when they sell more icecream
somebody has to make the cream
and to make the cream you need cows
and the cows them milk themselves so you need farmers
and farmers need a farm so you need bankers to loan them the money
and bankers... have enough money to buy icecream when they loan out money at 20% a year
so there's a shortage of icecream and the CREAMEX
So there's a need to shortsell the CREAMEX with futures to keep the price down.


And don't get me started about the biscuit to put the icecream in...

Temporalist's picture

You are definitely a funny foreigner.  Biscuits for ice cream...

q99x2's picture

Maybe most people don't want to be waiters.

Jlasoon's picture

Vanilla Custard + Dry Ice + Stand Mixer = Best Damn Ice Cream You'll ever Eat. 

all-priced-in's picture

Looking at it from a different angle -

It means the amount they were paying for these jobs was too high --

When you offer to over pay for something many people will be happy to sell to you.

No one wants to look at it this way because that is not "fair" to the person that has no skills and as a result is willing to accept $8 (whatever) to do some menial task.

I wonder how many people would apply for a $15 an hour job that requires no skill -




alangreedspank's picture

Of course there is statist predation perpetrated against the economy, but seriously, single father of 4 with a 40k factory job ? Really ? I think something else is going on here...

giggler321's picture

I know what's going on, inflation.  Da jimmy dean 16oz sausage is now 12oz I can't feed my family



robertocarlos's picture

The "All you can eat" perk sealed the deal.

tweake's picture

YEP. Everybody loves ice cream.

rustymason's picture

Would you hire a Harvard grad to work at your ice cream store?