In today’s society, things change so often that it is hard to keep up. From technology to what is “in” in the fashion world, America has become more fast moving than ever. The unemployment rate has increased since the crash of the technology sector, the failure of Enron and the subsequent look at management salaries around 2000. Many people lost their high paying jobs, their stock options, and their way of life.
The problem of unemployment was felt by everyone, not just those that lost their jobs. Temporary hiring and workload shifting has been the answer to make companies problems. Joseph Weber of Business Week noted that temporary jobs have risen 8% between the months of April and November of 2003 and have the possibility of rising 6% or 7% in 2004.
Many of those temporary positions are justifiable because many companies are seeing the need for more employees recently, but many are too scared that demand will fall again, so they are hiring temps. Companies like Microsoft and Intel made temporary positions seem bad because of the way they hired them. A few years ago they were hiring temporary employees to cut costs in healthcare and benefits. Older workers and those without the necessary skills were used as temporary employees. They worked the same number of hours as regular employees but received fewer benefits. The recently created temporary positions might change to permanent as the economy recovers, but that is still up in the air.
The other way that companies have dealt with the crashing economy was to lay off people and shift the work to other employees. Therefore the people that kept their jobs are working longer and harder than ever. This causes work related stress and impacts people’s lives in more ways than one.
The unemployment problem of the past few years has hit my life in an indirect way. Neither of my parents lost their jobs, but my father put off his vacation in light of the fact that he might lose his job to state downsizing. I lost hours at my part-time job at Barnes and Noble because the sales targets given for the 2001-2002 year were not being met. People were not spending money and therefore the management could not pay the workers. Instead more work was shifted to the people who could work a few normal workers and many supervisors. My father felt the same pinch; he received the work of about three people when the layoffs happened.
The year 2000 is when I graduated high school and began my first year as a marketing major at The University of Texas at Austin. My freshman year, just about everyone graduating from the business school, now the Red McCombs School of Business, was guaranteed a job. Life was good and getting a college degree was easy. Then after my first year the economy crashed, Austin lost tons of jobs, and all of the students that had jobs when leaving college lost them within a few months. Now jobs are few and far between and marketing is even harder to get into due to the fact that companies see marketing as an expendable thing in hard times.
I always said that I would never work somewhere that I would be miserable, that is why I got into marketing. Now it scares me and all my friends that we might have to get “filler” jobs until the economy rebounds. Yet I can’t help asking myself, “Is this a temporary fix?” If the economy does get better, for how long will it stay that way? Until this society changes how it does things, we are all in for more surprises as we get older the demand for our skills reduce.
The next six months are going to be the most terrifying of my college career. The fact is that there are few jobs out there, they are growing, but job security is not a constant anymore. It does not matter anymore that you just come to work and do your best. If you cannot make yourself an asset to the company, they can drop you to make more money. The advertising and marketing world is already cutthroat, adding a recovering economy to the equation makes it that much more dangerous.