When Jobs Are Scarce—What Can You Do?
AS JOBS become scarcer world wide, it is ever more difficult to find work. In the United States, the number of jobs decreased by 2,400,000 from just October to April. Many are searching desperately for employment.
Typical is a salesman in Utah who lamented: “I have twelve years of sales experience . . . I have applied with five different employment agencies, which has resulted in nothing. I have watched the paper daily. The help-wanted section has dwindled from about six pages to about half a page in six months.”
When U.S. government statistics for February showed no further increase in unemployment, many felt that the situation had stabilized. However, the New York Times editorial “Vanishing Jobs” said:
“The worsening of the true situation was statistically cloaked by several factors—most importantly by the withdrawal from the labor force of 580,000 workers. The bulk of these dropouts were almost certainly discouraged, unemployed workers . . . who gave up hope of finding a job.”—March 8, 1975.
Has it really become hopeless for the millions of unemployed to find a job?
Mental Attitude Important
The situation is not necessarily as bad as some news reports indicate. If you are looking for a job, an adjustment in mental attitude toward employment may be what is needed. To illustrate what we mean:
In a crowded Los Angeles, California, unemployment insurance office a bulletin board listed hundreds of available jobs. Yet hardly anyone was paying attention to them. An unemployed woman was asked why she did not apply for one of the secretarial jobs. She replied: “Why should I take a job that doesn’t interest me?”
Of course, it is not wrong to seek the kind of job you find interesting. But when you cannot find such work, your employment situation is not necessarily hopeless. Other work that you can do is usually available; you may need only to adjust your thinking. The experience of a Cleveland, Ohio, radio engineer shows the fine effect that accepting such work can have.
This man had worked for a local radio station for twenty-four years, and at the time of his dismissal he was assistant radio supervisor. For weeks he tried to find a job in the same field, but without success. Then he faced a reality: If he did find a job as an engineer he would be at the bottom of the pay scale and one of the employees most likely to be laid off again. So he began to look elsewhere for work.
A friend offered him a job in the painting and decorating field, and he accepted. In this job he must pay for his own insurance, vacations, and so forth, but he feels more than compensated. Now he arranges his own work schedule, and has more time to care for other responsibilities that are important in his life. Also, he feels better because of the physical activity involved in his job.
What is this man’s advice to those who face unemployment? Not to hesitate to go into another field of work, even though it is considered menial by the standards of some people.
The inclination of many persons has been to look down on a job if a person gets his hands dirty and wears “work clothes.” A youth in Boise, Idaho, pointing out why certain jobs had gone begging, said: “People just don’t want them. Most of them are hard manual jobs.” But when persons get used to the physical work, it can often contribute to improved health.
Of course, false pride may cause some persons to view certain occupations as beneath their dignity. For example, when a good-paying job as a chauffeur was offered an unemployed film director, his wife made him refuse it. But does a person really benefit himself by allowing pride to keep him from offering legitimate services from which others can benefit? Particularly when jobs are scarce it is wise to analyze what we might be able to offer that others need and will pay for.
Recently unemployment has been severe in parts of Oregon, particularly in the logging industry. An unemployed cutter near Portland, however, has fallen back on his music skills. He gives music lessons, and has earned enough money thereby to keep his family eating until the woods open up again.
Consideration of the needs of local citizens and a measure of initiative are important to getting work. On the desert in southern California a man, who had been looking for a job for months, resolved his unemployment problem in a unique way. Due to the desert heat many homes have sprinkler systems. So he went from house to house offering to clean waterlines and sprinkler heads and to adjust the system. He now has a good list of customers and is making enough money to pay his bills.
In the same area in California is an individual who returned from work in a foreign country because of a health problem. After months of looking for a job, with no results, he bought a small portable steam cleaner. He called on gas stations, offering to steam-clean their rest rooms with disinfectant and then to use a refreshing scent afterward. He has all the work he can handle, and has the advantage of being able to control his working hours.
If you are looking for a job, perhaps some form of cleaning service can provide you with sufficient income. One woman mimeographed leaflets announcing a new cleaning service that, for a fixed amount of money, would dust, scrub and vacuum one’s apartment so that it would seem like new.
The woman explained: “Do you know that most people cleaned up before I got there because they were afraid of what [we] would think of them? Usually I spent only an hour in each apartment.” She made twice as much money as she needed. It has usually been found best to offer to clean a house or an apartment for a certain price, rather than to work by the hour.
Or perhaps providing a janitorial service may be something you can do. Smaller jobs where there is no asphalt tile are best to start with, such as offices of dentists, doctors and lawyers, loan firms, branch banks, beauty parlors and barbershops, auto showrooms, eating places, and so forth. You will need a vacuum cleaner with a carpet attachment, a good mop with bucket and wringer, cloths, squeegee, window brush and five-gallon cans of detergent and wax. This does not involve a great outlay of funds, but the price charged for your jobs must include paying for and maintaining this equipment.
Helping One Another
When jobs are scarce, Christians have opportunity to show love by helping one another to obtain work. One of Jehovah’s witnesses in Banning, California, writes: “My Christian brothers who know the janitorial work helped me to learn what is necessary to do the work. One took me into several stores to show me how to estimate the cost of cleaning and waxing the floor. Another loaned me equipment he wasn’t using until I was able to purchase my own. Still another showed me how to wash windows with a squeegee.”
Also, Witnesses are passing on work to fellow Christians who are unemployed. For instance, a Witness with a gardening business has been taking on additional accounts that ordinarily he would not be able to handle. Then he subcontracts the work, thereby providing unemployed fellow Christians with a job.
In Cleveland, Ohio, where unemployment is great, Witnesses who have lost their jobs have various skills. Word about the work that they can do has been spread around. Thus the services of these unemployed Witnesses are sought by their fellow Christians who may be in need of auto repair work, carpentry, house repairs, house cleaning, and so forth.
It can be a kindness to be thinking of what you can do to provide work for those who are in need of a job. In New York the relative of one of Jehovah’s witnesses suffered a stroke, and the Witness needed someone to stay with her at night. Instead of hiring a nurse’s aide, as he had at first planned, he called a Christian elder in the community where his mother-in-law lived and asked: “Is there anyone needing work in your congregation?” There was, and this Witness was not only grateful for the employment, but provided loving care to an extent that could not have been expected of a person who was only looking for a job but lacked Christian motivation.
Help is also being provided in other ways. A Christian elder in Oregon writes: “The Witnesses are providing their needy brothers with groceries, gas and other items so that they can continue living.” It is indeed heartwarming to see such loving concern among fellow humans.
Time for Adjustments, Reappraisal
If you are one of the millions who have lost their jobs, make adjustments. For instance, do work for yourself that, when employed, you had others do for you, such as perhaps automobile repairs, repairs around the home, and so forth. Cut down your budget immediately; do not assume that you will be back at regular work soon.
Even if you have not been laid off from work, consider: If I were dismissed next week, could I handle my debts? If not, immediately begin to reduce the debts, denying yourself so as to pay off bills while you still have an income.
Finally, reappraise your work habits. Ask yourself: Do I have enthusiasm for my job and do I work at it with diligence? Is my work of good quality? Do I arrive early, and avoid wasting time? By putting forth real effort to be a good worker you may avoid losing your job. But even if you should be laid off, these fine qualities will help you to obtain other employment.
[Chart on page 5]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)
OCCUPATIONAL CHANGES THAT SOME HAVE MADE
Former Work New Employment
Bank executive Roadside vegetable-stand owner
Electronics engineer Janitorial work
Engineer of bridge-building firm House painter
Factory worker Radio-television repairman
Magazine writer and reporter Estate caretaker
Newspaper ad salesman School-bus driver
Nuclear engineer School consultant
Teacher Bicycle repair and instruction
[Graph on page 3]
(For fully formatted text, see publication)