Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Health news

I’m not sure if there are studies looking at the long term effects of such advice on one’s health especially in this economy, but I can see where in the words of Arlo Guthrie, it could create a movement.

 

Health Experts Recommend Standing up at Desk, Leaving Office and Never Coming Back

ROCHESTER, MN—In an effort to help working individuals improve their fitness and well-being, experts at the Mayo Clinic issued a new set of health guidelines Thursday recommending that Americans stand up at their desk, leave their office, and never return. “Many Americans spend a minimum of eight hours per day sitting in an office, but we observed significant physical and mental health benefits in subjects after just one instance of standing up, walking out the door, and never coming back to their place of work again,” said researcher Claudine Sparks, who explained that those who implemented the practice in their lives reported an improvement in mood and reduced stress that lasted for the remainder of the day, and which appeared to persist even into subsequent weeks. “We encourage Americans to experiment with stretching their legs by strolling across their office and leaving all their responsibilities behind forever just one time to see how much better they feel. People tend to become more productive, motivated, and happy almost immediately. We found that you can also really get the blood flowing by pairing this activity with hurling your staff ID across the parking lot.” Sparks added that Americans could maximize positive effects by using their lunch break to walk until nothing looks familiar anymore and your old life is a distant memory.

The Onion February 6, 2015

Maybe the labor unions could follow-up on this advice and determine what the long term benefits might be?

There is also this report today:

New Study Finds Therapy, Antidepressants Equally Effective At Monetizing Depression

NORMAN, OK—Noting that similar outcomes were achieved under both approaches, a landmark decade-long study of mental health treatment options published Tuesday has found that talk therapy and antidepressant medications are equally effective at monetizing clinical depression. “Our data indicate that regular counseling sessions and prescription drugs have similarly high success rates in generating large sums of money from the clinically depressed,” said Katherine Hutton of the University of Oklahoma, the study’s lead author, noting that both methods demonstrated consistent positive earnings across chronic, episodic, and seasonal depression cases. “While some people make tremendous profits with drugs, others see substantial revenues from therapy. Together, these are two very powerful tools for improving the health care industry’s bottom line.” The study concluded that when both approaches are combined, financial results are likely to be reached far more quickly than with one method alone.

The Onion, February 17, 2015

 

I think this raises some ethical questions for the medical profession and possibly concerns for congress as to the incentives within the ACA.

Certainly, the expert advice combined with the study would create some discussion within congress regarding the policy related to just about anything…

 

 

 

 

 

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Apple has some money burning a hole in its pocket

Getting real about Apple’s $100 billion stock buyback. 

Updated*

So I was hearing some where that Apple has a lot of money just burning a hole in it’s pocket. Seems there’s an arson named Carl Icahn trying to really ignite it by using twitter.

Apple has implemented a plan to spend $100 billion of it’s current estimate of $148.6 billion pocket money by 2015 to buyback it’s stock. Mr. Icahn has tweeting his joy.   Others say Apple needs to grow to grow it’s stock price.  Now wouldn’t that be the New Deal thing.

Apple has 80,300 full time equivalent employees of which 42,800 are “outside the retail division”.  Yup, you guessed…what if Apple instead of buying their stock back distributed that $100 billion to its employees?  Try $1,245,300.01 to each of them by 2015.  That’s 80 thousand new millionaires. Now that’s some job creating.

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How to Think About Aggregate Labor Markets

Peter Dorman at Econospeak takes a look at economics and models. (Re-posted with authors consent)

How to Think About Aggregate Labor Markets

The remarkable Tyler Cowen has me scratching my head again. Here he is at the beginning of a critique of minimum wage laws and sticky-price Keynesianism. (The latter is an oxymoron, as anyone who knows the history of Keynes’ dispute with the “Treasury view” knows, but we’ll let it pass.)
Let’s say your labor is worth $10 an hour but you won’t go back to work for less than $12, thereby leading to the unemployment of you.
In essence you are self-imposing a minimum wage on that market, but the employer is responding by leaving you jobless.
You can guess where this is headed.

The interesting thing is that Cowen apparently has no inkling that most people would find his opening sentence insulting. It implies that some significant portion of the unemployed are simply worth less than they think they are. Imagine going up to someone who’s been without a job for a while and saying, “I’m sorry, but have you considered the possibility that your abilities are really not very valuable, and your job search has failed because of this delusion?” If you insist on saying this, I’d advise doing it from a distance.

Now, of course some people have an inflated sense of self-worth, and others are too bashful. It might be an interesting research project to see whether the distribution of these types is correlated with employment status. I don’t have any priors about which would predominate where—do you?

What makes this interesting to an economist is that the popular perception of unemployment actually fits how we model the aggregate labor market pretty well. Let me explain. The view of most unemployed people, according to the interviews I’ve seen, goes something like this: “I’m looking for a job, and I’m willing to take something that’s worse than what I used to have, but I haven’t found anything yet.” The unemployed person hopes that the job is out there but that the connection hasn’t been made.

This formalizes to the now-standard model of search and matching, for which Peter Diamond and especially Dale Mortensen and Christopher Pissarides split a Nobel. Equilibrium in such models does not occur where the Beveridge curve crosses the 45-degree line, which it would if the criterion were supply equals demand, but depends on a larger array of factors. The model is used to explain why the ratio of unemployed workers to vacant jobs is typically greater than one, even in “full employment”.

This is how knowledgeable economists study aggregate labor markets today. Supply and demand, as deployed by Cowen, is a special and highly unlikely case that assumes away the complications that make the theory empirically relevant. If you see someone drawing supply and demand curves for labor and trying to explain unemployment as a result of too-high wages, you know they are employing outmoded methods.

What’s striking is that the more high-powered model actually conforms better to popular intuition. You have to have a rather uncharitable view of human behavior to believe that excess unemployment is due to people overestimating their true worth.

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Many types of tech, not just robots

by Mike Kimel

Many types of tech – not just robots – have been affecting and are going to affect the service sector. When someone develops an inexpensive sign you can stick on top of television sets, racks of clothes, or appliances that will change itself whenever someone in the headquarters decides to change the price of the product, its going to eliminate entire departments of people (or move them to doing something else), plus reduce the workload at every retail store in the system.

(The normal cadence for us is to enter prices more than a week before they take effect. We do have over-rides that allow the process to take place in 24 hours, but the amount of work needed to reduce errors
in that process is mind-boggling, not to mention wasteful given it results in hard printing of the wrong signs as well as the right signs.)

As of yet, I’m not sure automation reduced white collar work. What it has done is created a race to efficiency. Now companies scrape competitor data. They analyze prices to try to determine which generate highest margins. They analyze floor plans for the same purpose. I cannot imagine that being done 10 years ago – both in my previous life as a consultant, and my current life working for a major retailer, we can barely get the data systems to provide the data for those types of analysis properly now. Ten years ago it would have been impossible anywhere outside the military. Ten years from now, data pulls that I need an analyst to spend a week and a half doing, and then another week and a half cleaning, will be spit out in minutes (I hope). That analyst won’t be pulling data and organizing it – I’ll have her doing analysis instead. Margins will be even tighter because all our competitors will be doing the same analysis, without which nobody survives.

Where the job losses will come from is not that my employer or its competitors will have fewer analysts, because, as I noted, more analysis will be needed just to stay competitive. Instead, it will come from shuttering some of the companies in the field. There will be fewer retailers – and they’ll all be bigger.

Mike

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1/24/12 Links worth noting: Germany rejects Swiss banking secrecy deal; Labor Devaluation

1/24/12  Links worth noting by Linda Beale:

Germany rejects Swiss banking secrecy deal;   Labor Devaluation 

David Jolly, German Lawmakers Reject Swiss Tax Deal, New York Times (Nov. 23, 2012).
The US and other countries like Germany have been pressing the Swiss on their bank secrecy, which allows U.S. and other foreign citizens to establish bank accounts without the knowledge of the home country and thus hide assets and income from home-country taxation.  The US passed laws (called by the acronym “FATCA”) that require foreign banks to actively report information on US accountholders.   The hope is that every country will recognize the harm done to tax systems by banking secrecy and join in imposing similar information-reporting requirements.

The Swiss, meanwhile, have been trying to circumvent universal adoption of such laws.  See, e.g., Nicholas Shaxson, A scheme designed to net trillions from tax haves is being scuppered, Guardian.com (Nov. 22, 2012).   Britain, Luxemburg and Austria are cited as being in the forefront of the scuttling movement:  Britain, for example, has entered into a “Rubrik Agreement” with the Swiss.

The Swiss thought they had a deal with Germany.  This would be a bilateral deal in which the Swiss agree to an upfront payment in lieu of any back taxes on the accounts and then agree to act as tax collector for the foreign government on the accounts, thus maintaining secret the identity of the foreign taxpayers.
Such an agreement is problematic for two reasons:  (i) it requires the foreign government to trust the Swiss banks to pay the right amount over in taxes and (ii) it undermines the drive to eliminate offshore banking secrecy as a cover for tax evasion.

Transparency in international banking and taxation matters would require that banks provide information on accounts held by foreigners to the foreigners’ home jurisdictions, without any account-specific or accountholder-specific request required.  The reason for a more transparent rule is that otherwise the home jurisdiction has to have information it does not have (who has an account at a Swiss bank) before it can ask for the information it needs to ferret out who has such an account and may be engaging in tax evasion.  The biggest cracks in banking secrecy have thus come from  whistleblowers and opportunists who sell account-holder information to purchasing jurisdictions.

Friday, the Germans rejected–for now at least–a German-Swiss deal supported by Chancellor Merkel that had been two years in the making.  France is apparently also considering rethinking a similar deal.
The Swiss leverage was clearly stated by Swiss banking official Mario Tuor, who “noted that without a deal, the status quo would remain: German officials can seek specific information from the Swiss government on people suspected of tax evasion, or go back to buying data stolen from Swiss banks. ‘With an agreement, every German taxpayer in Switzerland would be taxed,’ Mr. Tuor said.” German Lawmakers Reject Swiss Tax Deal

The Steady Devaluation of Labor, Two Half Hitches (Feb. 2012).

This is an oldie but goodie, one worth reminding you of (or calling to your attention for the first time).
[The] minimum wage, in constant dollars, has had its ups and downs since 1970 but the overall trend indicated by the straight black line is down. The numbers show that the American economy puts less value on the entry level worker than it did in 1970. Why is that? Are minimum wage workers less intelligent now than they were forty years ago? Are they lazier?

The reason probably has a lot to do with the rise of the global economy and cheaper Chinese labor. It may also have to do with basic attitudes toward labor. Some see labor as a commodity, while others believe it is not. 

***
Representative Steve King (R-IA) on the floor of the House of Representatives last year:

“Labor is a commodity just like corn or beans or oil or gold, and the value of it needs to be determined by the competition, supply and demand in the workplace.”

***
Samuel Gompers, cigar maker-turned-labor organizer and founder of the American Federation of Labor in the early 20th Century, had a different business ethic related to labor and said this:

“You cannot weigh the human soul in the same scales with a piece of pork.”

Labor advocates actually managed to insert a statement affirming the status of human labor in the 1914 Clayton Antitrust Act“The labor of a human being is not a commodity or article of commerce.”

cross posted with ataxingmatter

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Ok class, let’s review before the exam (election)

I’m sure you are all feeling kind of blah. You have this final exam for this session and I can tell by your performances on the quizzes that you are still confused. The problem solving portions of the quizzes have been very telling. So lets review.
 
You’re taxes are not too high. It’s your income that is too low! Remember this and you will be able to solve enough of the problems to obtain a passing grade and graduate. And class, no one running today for president gets this. It is why President Obama looked like such a dufus in the debate. Romney took a step to his left… right into Obama’s policy space. Where does one go to gain more space when they have walled up the door to the left of them as President Obama has?
 
Let’s get something real clear from the beginning. Unless you are acquiring the majority of your money from money YOU ARE NOT A CAPITALIST 
 
 
Second: A MARKET IS NOT AN ECONOMY.

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Wages driven down, now relative to market you’re over paid!

Update: spelling corrected in title.

I heard and then went to look see that Caterpillar is working hard to control it’s costs.

“Despite earning a record $4.9 billion profit last year and projecting even better results for 2012, the company is insisting on a six-year wage freeze and a pension freeze for most of the 780 production workers at its factory here. Caterpillar says it needs to keep its labor costs down to ensure its future competitiveness.” 

It has purchased 17 other business since 2008, 9 were non US companies. Two companies were purchased in 2011. Here’s the thing, a 6 year freeze? I guess there will be no inflation? I mean like zero. Though economist are saying inflation is needed as part of the solution to our slow economy. Of course, Obama having frozen government wages, I guess Caterpillar is just being patriotic. Nothing like We the People blazing the trail for how we want the private sector to treat We the People.

Caterpillar made $4.9 billion profit. If they raised these people’s pay $10,000 each, your only talking $7.8 million. It is 0.159% (0.00159)of Caterpillar’s profit. Inflation has averaged since 2008 about 2.075%.  Giving the worker $10,000 more per year does not equal the inflation rate as a share of the profit. If the worker were getting their due based on inflation they would get a piece of $101,675,000. This would be $130,352.56 each for the 780 workers. Caterpillar would still have $4,798,325,000.00 profit. Imagine what that $130,352.56 would do for the economy in Joliet! I’ll bet Caterpillar equipment sales would rise do to demand for construction.

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Define Rich V: Looking at the historical labor economy

We are taking a little side trip inthis series of defining rich based on the prior tax rate schedulesbut, this post is keeping with the process of looking at history formarkers as to the definition of rich. For any new readers, I believeas a society we knew and had definite boundaries as to what definedrich. I believe we knew how to say the word “when” as the incomeand wealth was pouring into one’s glass These boundaries producedspecific public policy that resulted in a more equal and justsociety.
In our local city there is anothertextile mill going to the grave. We have lost a couple of huge millsto fire in the last decade.  The local paper did an article on thismill known as the French Worsted Mill. It was built in two stages,1906 and then 1906. It was part of the revival of the mill industryvia specific targeting of French industrialists, post water power forthe city. A local person who was eventually governor of the state iscredited with bring $6,000,000 of foreign investment into the cityearly turn of the century. At one point they had a Uniroyal rubberplant that made soles for shoes The last pair of Keds (sneakers) went out thedoor in 1970. Nine hundred and fifty people out of work due to “FarEaster Producers”.  (See the article: Pressure growsrapidly for Congress to to clamp tariffs on foreign goods, 5/19/1970)  This was a city as industrial asanything Detroit or Pittsburgh were. This was a cultural center forthe region with 6 theaters and I don’t mean just movies. We aretalking blue collar all the way. We’re talking jobs that we considerthrow away jobs to the far east today. We’re talking jobs that are notconsidered “good” jobs anymore.
So, now that you have the picture, hereis what this mill and the jobs within it were able to do for theworkers. I think this bit of history also adds to my position thatwe have continually pushed the cost of the American Dream up theincome line such that the middle class can not afford it…even with2 college educated people in one house. This is the sub-context tothe discussion regarding the decline of the middle class or the lossof the middle class. When people say the middle class does notexist, what is being stated is that the American Dream is no longerfinancially possible for this groups of citizens. The Dream is notdead or gone, it is over priced relative to the income of the middleclass. It is just as we are not drowning in debt, we are dehydratingfrom lack of income.

The article in the paper talked about aMr. Bacon. He worked in the mill in 1956 along with 700 to 800 otherresidents. The job was not as a machine tool maker (the mill as mosthad their own machine shop) or a special machine operator thatrequired special skill. He was a laborer. The tasks mentioned werestuffing waste wool into burlap sacks or “picking up the yarn” orfetching parts from the machine shop. We’re talking menial labortasks. Starter jobs.
For this work Mr. Bacon was paid $1.80per hour. The minimum wage was $1.00 per hour. At some point he wasearning $80 per week for 40 hours work. This is $4160 per year. With this income Mr. Bacon was able to put himself through collegeand became a teacher in the local school system. It was not just anyold college he went to. It was Providence College with a tuition of$500 per year. Yes, a private college that cost only 1/8thof his annual income.
Mr. Bacon’s story is the story that notonly are the Republican presidential candidates promoting as to whatwe need to “get back” to, but the democrats are saying we needto go forward to. Mr. Bacon’s story with this mill is the proof thatthe 2 parties are not talking about a fantasy time in our history. It did exist.
Here’s the problem though with both of their directions. I’m justgoing to list them.
  1. $40,000 is the annual tuition at Providence College today.
  2. $1.80 per hour is equivalent to the following: $14.40/hour standard of living, $17.80 real value, $18.20 unskilled labor and $22.00/hour production labor.
  3. Tuition of $500 is equivalent to the following: $4010.00 standard of living, $4960 real value, $5050 unskilled labor and $6120.00 production labor
Are you seeing the problem here? It’snot just the difference of tuition going up 80 times. It’s that the wage equivalent today for what amounts to stacking shelves in Walmartis not being paid at Walmart. Not only is this Walmart job notpaying such wages, this is what the current autoworker is earning. The autoworker was one of the best compensated citizens we had. Lookup the definition of  middle class in the dictionary, and you would have seen anautoworker!
How bad is this? Considered
Thelow-wage benchmark set by the UAW has already set off a competitivestruggle in the global auto industry, with Fiat-Chrysler boss SergioMarchionne telling Italian workers they must accept American-styleconcessions or he will move production to North America for cheaperlabor.
I have read that the German automakersare here in the US for the same reason. We are now the stop for outsourcing.
Here is the other more important aspectof the story of the French Worsted Mill and it’s relationship to theAmerican Dream. All those candidates, all those legislators, allthose governors proposing programs they say will encourage people toget off welfare and join the “productive” class, programs thatwill spur job creation, programs that will grow the economy such thatwe can cut taxes JUST LIKE THE GOOD OLD DAYS have no answer for thelack of pay of $14.00 per hour for the Walmart shelf stocker. Theyhave no answer as to how they are going to return the ratio betweenthe hourly wage and the cost of college education to that of the1950’s such that an individual can accomplish what Mr. Bacon andothers from the same mill accomplished. Not only do they have noanswer, they don’t even want to consider this aspect of theirsolution.
Mr. Bacon’s story is also telling uswhy we think the public sector is so over paid. If a Walmart shelfstocker should be earning $14.00 hour comparatively but are not, ifan autoworker earning $14.00 per hour is underpaid comparatively,then certainly the higher hourly wages of the public sector lookexcessive. Everyone used to know that the public sector was alwayspaid less compared to the private sector. They did not have morebenefits than the autoworker, but they do now. The slowdeterioration of the autoworkers and all the other laborers pay andbenefits has hidden the reality of the finger pointing at the publicsector. It’s not that they are paid so much, and thus look “rich”by comparison, it’s that the autoworker has lost so much over such along time that the loss is not recognized as a loss. Instead, thepublic sector’s economic position is looked at as an unjust gain. Not only is this presented as an unjust gain, it is an injusticeperpetrated via taxation. And the stage is now set for all thearguments such as those we hear coming from governors such as Walkerand Kasich.
This is where the Keds hit the road. We, and I have to say “We” because We voted in those who made thepolicy changes, have decided that a good job is not one which allowsthe experience of Mr. Bacon or the autoworker. We upped it to be onethat required academic education. No longer would trade education orapprenticeship education be of such value that it would define themiddle class. Unfortunately, as I had suggested in 2007, evenacademic education is being defined down as to not resulting in a “goodjob”.
“The dream seems to now only be adefinite with a 2 person, college educated and working household. That combination is not far from being in the 10% group. Thus, wehave raised the dream to something beyond which a large portion ofthe population will not reach considering only 28% have a 4 yeardegree even though 64% of high school students are entering college. It looks even worse with people suggesting that you need an IQ of 110to succeed in college. I mean, can we push the dream any further outor be anymore aristocratic in our arguments? “

In 2003, the homeownership rate for upper-income families withchildren was 90.8 percent, while the rate for their low- tomoderate-income counterparts was significantly lower at 59.6 percent– yet in 1978 some 62.5 percent of low-to moderate-income workingfamilies with children owned their homes. Ultimately, had the 1978homeownership rates for working families with children prevailed in2003, an additional 2.3 million children would now be living inowner-occupied homes.

How’s this little bit of history change your ideas about what toblame for the current housing/mortgage mess? I suppose if you areall for a future that is less than what was accomplished in the pastthen blaming government for promoting housing and people for spendingbeyond there means is all right by you.

No one in the middle class of yore was rich by any means. But,what they had was a life much freer of risk than today. What theylived in was an environment that provided the means to manage therisk of life and living. When we are told by those running for or inoffice that Americans need to be more…(fill in the blank) they aresuggesting such from within their own experience of having grown upin a socially constructed via government environment that was devoidof certain risks of living based on one’s income. In other words,you would not be told that the requirement for food stamps would meanyou had to have less than $2000 in savings.

The removal of these risks allowed one to take what theypersonally had (natural ability and otherwise) and grow it into alife where economically more of life’s risks could be taken onindividually.   It was an environment which removed the concept ofluck from the social justice equation.

This environment was not all welfare. It was an environment thatassured a person of common acuity could live a life free from therisk of weather, malnourishment, illness and aging. It was anenvironment that produced an economy such that the vast majority ofthe 72% without a college education were living this minimal risklife. We had an environment which supported the economic life journeyof the autoworker, simultaneously supporting the economic life journey of Mr.Bacon’s experience, simultaneous supporting the economic life journey of anindividual such as President Obama.

It was an economic environment which produced a directrelationship between income/wealth and risk absorption. As incomeand wealth went up, so did the absorption of risk and vice versa. Today we

have a system that is completely theopposite such that we have arrived at place where the relationship iscompletely reversed. We spare those who as a group can purchase agovernment which insulates them from any risk while pushing all therisks of living on to those who can not afford any risk and then tellthose people “oh well”. The bank bailouts and theausterity plan is the realization of the reversal of the risk/income-wealth relationship.

Our past economic environment also produced a direct relationshipbetween income-wealth and luck. Again, as income-wealth increased,your success was more dependent on luck and vice versa. This too hasbeen reversed as we see with the Washington revolving door and evergreater capture of the nations wealth as one’s income-wealthincreases. The environment produces an ever stronger assurance thatincome and wealth will increase as they both increase. This isunlike the experience of the middle class including all the highly educatedpeople who find themselves under employed or unemployed do to theshear luck of having chosen wrong. Today the closer you are to zeroon the line of income-wealth, the luckier you need to be.

I’ll leave you with this, the class warfare. There is classwarfare. It has always been with us, since the writing of theConstitution. However, I believe the current theater is the mostdevious the vast majority of the US population has ever faced. Thisis because of the two parties in this seemingly perpetual human quest,one has successfully cloaked themselves in the costume worn of athird party observer effectively immunizing themselves from the pain of the fight via camouflageof a messenger.  I even suspect some aregaining a wee bit of entertainment in their ability to manipulate theircounterparts into fighting among themselves. I speak of the laborclass successfully being divided such that those who labor in theprivate sector of the economy accuses those who labor in the publicsector of the economy for their poor economic position and the publicsector laborer does not recognizing themselves in the private laborworld. I tell you, the false messenger is recognized in that theirlabor is money. It is not in their mind or body. Warren Buffet maywant to be taxed more, but Warren Buffet is not working his money asthe Kock Brothers are working theirs…and Warren Buffet isbenefiting from the productivity of the Kock’s Brother’s money.

Next up is 1936’s tax table.

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The Job Market, Finding Qualified Applicants, and HR

by Mike Kimel

I had a few posts noting that not long ago, I took a severance package from my most recent employer. Put another way, I’m now unemployed. Since then I’ve been looking for a new job.

However, in recent weeks I’ve started taking consulting work, and I’m starting to lean more toward consulting. I was a consultant for seven and a half years before taking my most recent job, and I function as easily as a consultant as I do in the corporate world. Put another way – I am not uncomfortable with the feast or famine environment in consulting though, truth to tell, my wife would strongly prefer that I had a “real” job. But I digress.

A big part of the reason I’m starting to lean toward consulting is that while I haven’t cracked the job market, some consulting work has come my way without my having sought it out. Unrequited love v. unsolicited love, or if you can’t be with the one you love, love the one you’re with, right? And when I say I haven’t cracked the job market, I have to say, something about the job market seems very wrong to me. I keep hearing that companies are having a hard time finding qualified candidates. A random search of the news spits out several such stories.

I would like to relate my experience in the matter. This morning I went to indeed.com, which has rapidly become my favorite job search site. I entered some appropriate job search parameters, and found a job that I’ve applied to twice in the past three months. It looks a lot like the requirement bullet points come straight from my resume: advanced degree, a fair amount of experience developing analytic tools (e.g., data mining), experience building and leading cross-functional teams, and experience with strategic planning. I can’t find anything on the job req that I don’t have on my resume, except that in each case I have more experience at a higher level than the req specifies. And as I said, I’ve applied for that position. Twice. And it seems it has appeared on the company’s website again. That means the ad wasn’t written as ex post justification for hiring a specific person – the company at least believes it is genuinely looking to fill the spot without an internal candidate already penciled in.

Now, I’m not saying that the company should hire me. Perhaps there is something about the position that isn’t in the req that makes it clear I don’t fit in. And perhaps there are many others that are far more qualified than I am (though I like to think I am very, very good at building statistical tools, and even better at management and strategy). But either way, I would imagine that my resume would have tripped up some sort of a “call this guy and feel him out for five minutes” routine in their “applicant tracking software.” There are other similar positions that I’ve seen crop up several times since I’ve applied, but two of them really bother me as they also include a phrase like “knowledge of Spanish, Portuguese preferred.” Now, I grew up in Brazil and have family in Argentina so I have spent considerable time in South America. I speak Spanish and Portuguese. That’s on my resume, as is the fact that I have international work experience. The companies advertising those positions didn’t call me back either.

On the other hand, I’ve had calls and e-mails from employers looking for someone to a) sell insurance, b) provide financial education to union members and/or Hispanics and/or other groups, c) for entry level positions, and d) for an executive chef. What in my resume screams “executive chef” I have no idea. None whatsoever. Good for a laugh, but not really. It’s a waste of my time, and there are people out there who are qualified to be an executive chef and are searching for that job and aren’t getting a call. My guess is that someone seeking out an executive chef position may be getting calls about upper level management positions in Analytics at a Fortune 500 company.

Which leads to a hypothesis. It may be that there is not so much a mismatch between the skills that the unemployed have vis à vis the needs of companies as there is an inability of companies, and in particular, the Human Resources department of companies, to recognize the needed skills when they see them. I’ve met many HR people over the years, and while many are competent, a frightening number of them are not. I remember, as a hiring manager, learning that I had to bypass my company’s HR department altogether if I wanted to get resumes that had any bearing to my group’s needs. But I could only do that because my boss was very sympathetic. He had found me without using HR too.

I note this recent post on Health Insurance also says something about some of HR’s other functionalities.

PS – Need a consultant with expertise in analytics and forecasting, and who can explain what it means to your business in simple (and actionable) English (or Portuguese or Spanish)? Someone with a Ph.D. in economics and 15 years experience in pricing, risk, demand analysis, and corporate strategy? Perhaps with strong knowledge of some of the big South American markets? Someone with experience in litigation support? Drop me a line at “mike” period “kimel” (one m only!!) at gmail.com. Alternatively, “mike” at analyticecon.com will get to me too.

Also, my wife started cleaning up my old consulting practice website: www.analyticeconomics.com (or www.analyticecon.com). Any suggestions about the website, or about generating new business, are welcome.

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