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?