Posts Tagged ‘unemployment’

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Is the Face of Homelessness Changing?

July 19, 2009

Traditionally, when many people think about a person who is homeless, the first archetype that comes to mind is a long term unemployed male, street beggar, drug user, or, sadly, the mentally ill. However, that may be changing now.

People who were traditionally employed in blue collar jobs (construction, retail, truck driving, factory work, etc.) were the ones who typically became unemployed and lost their homes. Now unemployment is creeping up even higher on the socio-economic scale to include white collar management (factory management, store management, teachers, nurses, etc.). These people, already in debt with credit cards, education loans, car payments, and variable mortgages are losing their homes, too.

With this in mind, many people are becoming critical of “shovel ready job” programs and re-education through community colleges that the current administration is pursuing. They argue that the “new homeless” won’t be helped by short-term, low income jobs. The “new homeless” are often already educated. They charge that the failure isn’t among the unemployed and shouldn’t be the focus of adjustments. Rather than creating “low end,” temporary jobs for “high end” unemployed, the management of the economy needs to be fundamentally changed. It should be regulated less and the types of regulations that are used need to reflect the underlying causes of the recession.

What do you think? Would you like to respond to this article? If so, select one of the topics below:

1. What do you think short term and low paying jobs will accomplish in the long term for our economy?

2. What do you think caused the recession? Some social scientists are now saying that we have “bottomed out” in the Bush Recession and are entering another, separate, discrete recession being caused by factors other than those credited with causing the original recession. What do you think?

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Is Unemployment a Good Indicator of Society’s Health?

July 17, 2009

freshoranicfood
There is growing concern over the increase in unemployment levels in the United States. Depending upon how you measure unemployment, anywhere from 9% to 16% of Americans are now unemployed. In some cities, this number is much higher. Recently, President Obama predicted that the unemployment rate will continue to increase.

Some sociologists would argue that high levels of unemployment may be bad, but more concern should be directed toward the type of jobs available, not the number. For example, which job openings would be better for a community: twelve temporary jobs offering minimum wage or one permanent job offering eighty thousand dollars a year with good benefits? How would a sociologist respond to this question?

Would you like to respond to this posting? If so, select a topic below and respond to it:

1. What do you think is more important in a community: having a small number of secure and well-paying jobs available or having a large number of low-paying and temporary jobs available?

2. Do you think an unemployed person should refuse a temporary job with a low income in order to wait for a more secure and well-paying job? What does this tell you about the difference in priorities a person might have compared with a community, city, or state?

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The Environment Versus the Economy: Which is More Important During a Recession?

June 1, 2009

This is a blue crab. The color is quite pretty, it tastes great, and, like many animals, its habitat is in danger.

This is a blue crab. The color is quite pretty, it tastes great, and, like many animals, its habitat is in danger.

Recently, the Virginia Marine Resources Commission determined they were going to continue preventing fishermen from winter dredging. Winter dredging is a traditional method of catching crabs in which fishermen drag a net along the bottom of the Chesapeake Bay to gather hibernating crabs. However, Steve Szkotak of the Associated Press recently reported that biologists estimate anywhere between 25% to 50% of the crab catch will be killed in this dredging process. Stopping the dredging could be important in protecting the crab population because many of these crabs are pregnant. On the other hand, the fishing restriction will result in over 50 boats not going out to work. This could increase the local unemployment rates.

Unfortunately, this story—in which the jobs of hard working people are up against the protection of the irreplaceable natural environment—is an old one for sociologists. Which should take priority and why? Would you like to discuss this issue? If so, post a reply to one of the discussion topics below:

1. Who do you think should have the responsibility of protecting the environment—the local community, the state, or the federal government? Look at your response and explain the advantages and disadvantages of your choice.

2. Which do you think is more important in the short-term: avoiding the social problems of high unemployment or the needs of the environment? Why? List a few issues you associate with both problems. Does taking a long-term perspective of the problem change your list? Why?

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