Thursday, March 05, 2009


"Friday, the U.S. Department of Labor will release the country's latest unemployment figures, which will no doubt be grim," reported a columnist at Poynter.

"By some estimates, 4.2 million jobs have been lost since the recession began in December 2007. Almost certainly, the situation will get worse."

Reading through the statistics, almost everyone is hosed. Even traditionally strong and expanding jobs in health care for the maintenance of the doddering American cohort have slowed a bit as people put off elective procedures and families postpone transfers to senescent warehousing.

Mass firings tracking at is your host's favorite widget. It furnishes tip-top data. Check the first box on the page and let 'er rip. The result is astoundingly bleak.

However, as has been posted here previously, job opportunities are OK if you can qualify for work as part of Team Handcuff USA.

"U.S. Customs and Border Protection recruiters will look to Orlando, Fla. to meet its goal to hire a diverse cadre of approximately 11,000 new employees this year," reported a Dept. of Homeland Security dispatch on February 29.

"[A] one-day recruiting event seeks to identify qualified applicants for a variety of law enforcement positions as well as mission and operations support roles."

"Successful Border Patrol candidates will complete a rigorous screening process, which includes a written examination and structured interview, language aptitude or Spanish proficiency test, along with a physical fitness test and medical examination ... Training is provided and includes a 55-day basic training program upon successfully passing a Spanish proficiency exam in the academy; all others will complete a 40-day Spanish immersion course upon completing basic training. All training is conducted in Artesia, New Mexico."

Look to daily episodes of Homeland Security USA for worker profiles. Generally, you have to be bigger than the people you handcuff, detain, and jail. And you must speak Spanish, because almost everyone you'll be processing is smaller, weaker, browner and Mexican. Military experience is a plus -- from the battlefield to the border crossing detention center, so to speak.

As February rolled in, Fortune magazine ranked the 100 best companies to work for in 2009. As an example of cheerleading while the house burns down, it was first rate.

Outside of the usual companies near Mountainview, CA (Google, naturally), it was list of those damned by trivial crap presented as giddy praise.

In at number 9, Goldman Sachs: "Wall Street survivor turned itself into a bank holding company in September and laid off some 3,000 people across the globe by year-end. Top seven officers agreed to forgo bonuses, but rest of staff was in line to receive performance bonuses, albeit at a lower rate."

Nugget Market, at number 10, will create a whopping 173 new jobs this year.

"Sales have yet to slump at this crazy-fun supermarket chain, which in 81 years has never had a layoff," cheered Fortune editors. Crazy fun!

Adobe Systems at 11: "Software innovator known for its egalitarian culture was not immune to the slowdown but got kudos for humane treatment of 600 [mass fired] staffers."

Robert W. Baird, an investment consulting firm in Milwaukee ranked highly, too.

"This Midwest-based employee-owned investment advisor thrived despite the meltdown, hiring more than 200 people in 2008," reported Fortune. Maybe you were one of the 200!

Principal Financial Group of Des Moines lost 139 jobs last year but ranks as the 17th best company to work at in the US: "CEO Larry Zimpleman got a thumbs-up for weekly e-mails he sent during height of the financial upheaval to keep employees up-to-date and reassure them the company was healthy. 'Hearing from you was exactly what I personally needed,' said one staffer." of Henderson, Nevada, was the 23rd best company to work for. "After he cut 8% of the staff, the CEO received several glowing letters from departing employees," reported Fortune.

Starbucks was right behind at 24 because, "Despite closing 600 stores and laying off 1,200 employees, Starbucks remains an attractive workplace, especially for part-timers ..."

Quicken Loans of Livonia, MI, shed 2,000 jobs but still ranked high because "[it] still offers perks (like short days once a week)..."

An accounting firm named Plante & Moran was inside the top fifty US companies at 42.

As for perks: "Employees from all 17 offices gather one day every year to hear updates on the firm and mingle ... Latest event was attended by more than 1,200 staff members."

MITRE Corp., a national security consulting and services giant in McLean, VA (it staffs the intelligence agencies) was in at #66 because the "CEO of this nonprofit government researcher makes only 18 times what lowest-paid staff member earns."

Only eighteen times! Excelsior!

DD would include more. But you might die of laughter.


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