The Great Recession continues to eradicate jobs long after the "technical figures" express that it has ended and we're in a recovery. So, really, what is a recovery and is this what a recovery looks like? But more importantly, what happens to a job after it dies?
Many of us have become desensitized to job cut numbers that are still so prevalent in the news: 2,000 here, 10,000 there, estimated 30-40,000 over the next 18 months, etc. But really, if one looks at these numbers, aside from the empathy/sympathy for the person who once occupied these respective titles/roles, jobs have been cut. At least 3 million of them. So where do these jobs go?
A job cannot simply disappear. A factory might close but elsewhere another factory must take over the production of the same item or a similar one. An auto repair shop or restaurant, for instance, might close because of too few customers, but the few customers they did have must now go elsewhere, which would, in turn raise the demand or popularity of another or many other shops. Given this, one must then assume that these surviving restaurants, auto body shops, insurance companies, gyms, etc. would need to hire more people to meet the suddenly increased demand. But this, surprisingly and perhaps counter-intuitively, is not happening.
Instead, what is happening is people are working longer and harder for less pay. There are fewer people springing to go out to eat and there are even fewer people deciding to keep their fledgling or struggling businesses up and running, leaving little choice for people to go elsewhere. It's a vicious cycle in which America is simply biding its time before an even greater and deeper recession/depression descends. Our economy is based off of an ephemeral dream and is supported by the same chimerical foundations. There is little physical production occurring now; it has instead been replacing by things like search engine optimizer and executive director of development, jobs which are based off of the same ideas that our changing world will never leave everyone else behind and return to a technology-free world in which what one can trade, manufacture or carry will be what matters most.
In reality, there will not be a "great boom" in unemployment, nor will there be a sudden epiphany in which people decide to return to jobs that are "below" them. We, as Americans, have been raised sucking on the proverbial American Dream bottle, and we're not satisfied with a sub-par job title, pay scale, or being told to do something. With belt tightening comes depression and eventual lackadaisical attitudes toward the things we once loved, which includes discretionary spending. There won't be a sudden boom in the number of tanning salons which suddenly open: people will be more apt to lie outside on their lawns and soak up some sun than to go spend $40 on a week's worth of tanning at an indoor salon attended by a Jersey Shore lookalike.
There is a serious misconception among many policymakers who assume that the unemployment rate will naturally decrease in cyclical response to the changing attitudes and frivolities of the American consumer. It won't unless America can recall some of its lost jobs overseas and really evaluate itself in terms of how many tangible jobs it has. After all, if a job dies, it shouldn't be able to go this easily--floating away into the economical abyss. It should stay grounded and in sight; in short, a job should be a difficult thing to destroy. It can't be slashed along with hundreds or even thousands of others and never heard from again; it must be rooted in the ground of America. If and when this occurs, our economy will recover.