Not the same old thing

It’s Not the Same Old Thing

Once again a year winds to a close with little apparent relief for millions of unemployed and underemployed Americans. The unemployment rate drops seemingly only when job seekers are discouraged enough to suspend their search for work. When these folks restart their efforts after the holidays, they’ll likely be joined by the traditional post-holiday lay-offs. You heard it here first: The unemployment rate will go back up in January.

Befuddled economists struggle to explain what’s happening. It reminds me of the 1970s when it was supposed to be impossible to have a stagnant economy and runaway inflation at the same time. If pressed as to where all the jobs are, most will explain that employment traditionally rebounds quickly following the end of a recession. Welcome to non-traditional times.

In the spirit of the non-traditional or unconventional, we offer the following pieces of “outside the box” thinking to prepare you for finding employment in the coming year. Some may seem distasteful initially, but don’t discount any of them out of hand. In non-traditional times, you may have to consider the unconventional.

Pack Your Bags

Consider relocating. According to the Bureau of Labor statistics, the five states with the lowest unemployment rates, as of October, were:

 North Dakota (3.5%)

Nebraska (4.2%)

South Dakota (4.5%)

New Hampshire (5.3%)

Vermont (5.6%)

 Keep in mind that the national unemployment rate in October was 9 percent, just to give a little perspective. North Dakota? What in the world would I do there? Earlier this fall Fox Business toured a high-tech manufacturing facility. The owner’s only complaint? He couldn’t locate enough workers to achieve full capacity! North Dakota is undergoing an oil boom comparable to the Marcellus Shale gas boom in the East. Nebraska is a major transportation hub. There are relatively small but diverse industries in Vermont and New Hampshire as well.

There are a lot of reasons not to relocate. Home ownership (in a stinky market) and uprooting of families come immediately to mind. Yet if you’re celebrating the second anniversary of your unemployment, this is something you need to look into. Do research. Type “North Dakota Jobs” into Google and see what all comes up. You’ll be surprised.

10/4, Good Buddy

One of the jobs most in demand is truck drivers. Motor freight companies simply cannot find enough qualified drivers. You need to have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to handle a big rig, a dump truck, and a lot of smaller equipment. If you’ve ever been tempted, now is the time. There’s such a paucity of qualified truckers available that national carriers are willing to train you to obtain your CDL. These are known as company-sponsored CDL training programs. Each company handles the process its own way. Usually, training is paid for through a commitment to work for the company for a certain period of time, through incremental payroll deductions, or some combination of the two. (No, nothing is entirely free.)

Believe it or not, there are private schools teaching truck driving. Tuition is on you, but you may qualify for assistance under a state or federal retaining program. Web sites exist to match rookie drivers with companies willing to hire them. So breaking into the trucking industry has a complete support infrastructure.

And ladies, don’t think this is just for men. Two of the best drivers on Ice Road Truckers are women. One of them regularly drives a trailer truck in New York City.

A Real Growth Opportunity

Speaking of training, you probably know that the health care field is growing exponentially. Have you ever wondered how to get involved? One of the easiest points of entry is as a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA). Our friends at the Bureau of Labor Statistics tell us that openings for CNAs are expected to increase by 18 percent between 2008 and 2018. CNAs are the backbone of nursing and personal care homes, providing every conceivable service to patients. Yes, they change diapers. But they also feed those who cannot do so themselves. If you’re a people person with some compassion, this may be a way to put it to constructive purpose.

Training is offered through community colleges, vocational schools, and even the Red Cross in some areas. Some employers will train CNAs on the job, under the supervision of registered or light practical nurses. To become certified, you’ll need to pass an examination once you’ve finished training. The salaries offered vary with the employers, but many are unionized. This means benefits and work rules.

Becoming a CNA may interest you in becoming a nurse. Even if it doesn’t, take my word for it that a good CNA is worth his or her weight in gold. CNAs will not be without work for the foreseeable future.

Summing Up…

These options may not be for you. Fair enough. But if you’ve been unemployed for months and months, I challenge you to be creative in your thinking. Doing the traditional things hasn’t worked for you so far in non-traditional times. Lincoln entered the presidency facing an uncertain future (the Civil War), and said in his first inaugural that “we must think anew and act anew…” Who are we to argue with Lincoln?

Please post your thoughts and comments. Also, if you want to publish this blog article or print to share, please keep this copyright permission statement with the article. These articles on are joyfully shared to help others, but not to be used for profit or selling to others. Copyright 2011 Bette Novak, LifePath Associates LLC.

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