Wednesday, August 02, 2006

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Letter To The Editor Re: Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job

NY Times
Letter To The Editor
via email
August 2, 2006

I am extremely dismayed at the way "Men Not Working, and Not Wanting Just Any Job" (NY Times, July 31, 2006) was reported and at the biased selection of letters (August 2, 2006) in response. The truth is that a large number of unemployed and underemployed men and women in this country are college educated, highly skilled individuals who have lost their jobs and cannot find comparable work at comparable pay. The article implied that only uneducated or non-college educated people were having this problem. That is not true.

There is an article in The Op Ed Page from April 7, 2006 titled "The Broken Press" that primarily addressed the inaccurate reporting by the press of the unemployment numbers and jobs reports.

The problem is not "lazy" men (or women), as the article and the selected letters imply. Part of the problem is that many jobs formerly filled by hard working US citizens in the United States are now being performed by low-wage people in other countries, eliminating many jobs and also reducing money going back into the US economy. (Also not being reported is the rework that needs to be done from the poor work products being provided by at least some of these low-wage off-shore workers, increasing dramatically the true but unreported cost of such offshore-outsourcing.)

Owners of major (and not so major) US companies either don't understand the harm they are doing to their own firms and to their country or they don't care because it is putting more money into their personal pockets. They also don't seem to understand that combining remaining jobs with unrelated skills into fewer jobs complicates this problem even further. For example, project manager, business analyst, and programmer are three distinct and different jobs. Many employers have attempted to combine these into one job, not understanding that by doing so they will get the worst of all three, because one person cannot adequately perform any one of them well if trying to do all three (and each job - project manager, business analyst, programmer - has many aspects to it). See "Gathering Business Requirements: Reality Check" written in 2002 for a fuller description of the reasons not to combine these particular jobs. This is but one example. There are many, many more such poor decisions being made by US companies.

As was indicated in passing in the NY Times article, another complication is age discrimination. There is a significant but unreported number of men and women in their 40's and 50's that are having difficulty finding work because of their age.

It would be helpful if the NY Times would do more research, and report more accurately, the truth about the deteriorating US job market and the inability of a significant number of qualified men and women to find work in this country.

Yours truly,

Richard Kuper