If there’s one thing everybody agrees upon, it’s that the economy is in lousy shape and we’re in serious need of getting more Americans back to work. And if there’s one thing everbody DISAGREES upon, it’s who exactly is at fault for this current state of affairs!
For those interested in reading some insightful discussion about this problem, I’d steer you to a Wall Street Journal article that was recently brought to my attention (thanks!) by a client of mine.
In this article, Wharton School professor Peter Capelli argues that while the unemployment rate in this country is a tricky and multi-faceted problem, the inflexibility of employers is the element that is most at fault for our current state of affairs. Here’s an excerpt summarizing his conclusions:
“Employers are quick to lay blame. Schools aren’t giving kids the right kind of training. The government isn’t letting in enough high-skill immigrants. The list goes on and on. But I believe that the real culprits are the employers themselves. With an abundance of workers to choose from, employers are demanding more of job candidates than ever before. They want prospective workers to be able to fill a role right away, without any training or ramp-up time. In other words, to get a job, you have to have that job already. It’s a Catch-22 situation for workers—and it’s hurting companies and the economy.”
He makes a compelling argument, on the surface. But the plot thickens when you read the more than 400 comments that were submitted under the article, where some very intelligent (for the most part) reviewers of the article chime in and offer their two cents on who is most to blame for the current jobless recovery. This dialogue puts Karl Marx’s simple bourgeoisie vs. proletariat argument to shame. Instead, you’ll find camps pointing to almost a dozen different parties whom they believe deserve culpability for the employment crisis.
Some (inluding the author) blame employers for having unrealistic hiring expectations
Some (especially employers) blame U.S. employees for being lazy, spoiled, and afraid of hard work
Some blame the school system for not producing graduates with the right skills
Some blame immigrants for taking American jobs and intentionally sabotaging U.S. workers
Some blame government for the promulgation of H1B visas and allowing outsourcing to happen
Some blame the unemployment department for providing an overly comfortable social safety net
Some blame unions for insisting on unsustainable wage levels and preventing further hiring
Some blame HR departments for paralyzing the hiring process and overlooking good candidates
Some blame corporate shareholders for demanding short-term returns over long-term growth
Some blame parents for coddling their kids and not preparing them for “real life” work conditions
Some blame society as a whole for demonizing blue-collar and vocational career choices
Honestly, there was so much blame to throw around in the comments section, I stopped counting after a while. Eventually, it all blended together into something worthy of a Shakesperian tragedy. But here are a few random highlights from the discussion, if you’re interested: