As Brad says, long term unemployment is a problem not just because of the immediate pain, but also because of the fact that over time these people find that their skills become more and more mismatched with the needs of employers even if the economy turns around.Their whats? Their skills? What're those?
-Duncan Black, AKA Atrios
The single biggest lie about the post-industrial economy is this notion that, whereas once you could be a union slug pulling a widget-press lever for eight hours a day, now you gotsta have skillz, brah. From this conviction flows a never-ending stream of bullshit, from the ever-expanding, university-degree scam machine to "jobs training programs" to, well, see above. This fucking bullshit in turn justifies our post-labor, "at-will" culture of total employee dependence on employer largesse for livelihood, medical care, etc. The idea is that everyone must continually renovate their brain lest some kind of bullshit, office-derived Moore's Law cause some new patch pack for an Adobe product totally blow our fucking minds, man.
Being a machinist requires skills. Working in an office requires a glancing familiarity with OfficeSuite. I think we would do well not to confuse the two. The Service Product Coordinator Spend Process Analyst Specialist who's been looking for new work for the last twelve months ain't out a bullshit job because he failed to stay current with Macro-writing technology; he's out a bullshit job because his job was bullshit, extraneous even to the boomtime economy that created it, now, more than ever, unnecessary. Persistent unemployment is not a problem because employees and employers are "mismatched," one of those callous Management euphemisms that will one day take its rightful place alongside such Third-Reichisms as "transport." It's a problem because our economy is a castle made of bullshit built on a bullshit foundation foundering in a swamp of bullshit. It is not an absence of skills and abilities that curtails and limits the prospects of gainful labor; it is an absence of any industry requiring any labor. Yes, it was lovely that we had a decade or two in which fake jobs full of people pimping their fake skills abounded, but that wave crested and rolled back.
It's curious to me that Black, who was perceptive about the phony nature of the real estate and finance cons, doesn't see that near-full employment was likewise a shell game.