Are people really choosing to stay unemployed? Really?

These comments are from a discussion I had with a man in Michigan. How do we motivate, inspire, reach and help here?

The following is a response from a man in Michigan to a community where I posed the preceding question. I have the opportunity to connect with many unemployed, and would be, aspiring entrepreneurs. This, unfortunately is not a unique perspective, especially in Michigan. My counsel to him was that we can all do something about our situation, even if it’s only to control how we react. We make choices, which shape our perceptions, which cause our experiences, good or bad. Right now, in this day and age, bad things happen to good people….Sometimes really ‘bad” things happen to really good people.

From Bill in Michigan:

I'm not "complaining" about anything. Nor is it possible for my description of the climate to be accurate but my "take" discouraging. My "take" is merely an observation of the reality of the situation. What someone makes of that is up to him or her.

The facts speak for themselves: Michigan's unemployment rate is somewhere around 20% when you factor in all the people who have given up, stopped looking for work, and no longer even bother to file unemployment. Our manufacturing jobs are gone and not likely to ever return. The industry (auto) that used to power Michigan is now heavily taxed, regulated to the point of bankruptcy and/or owned by the Federal government - which has no experience running car companies. You can make of that what you will. I say it's a bad situation made worse.

I know a lot of people out of work. In fact, I know a few people who have been out of work for over two years. They don't choose to stay in Michigan. They're trapped here.

Unfortunately, companies outside of a state or region no longer (as a general rule) offer relo. Plus, many now advertise they want locals only. So whereas at one time it was possible to pick up and move to obtain a job in another part of the country, now it's far less likely because companies (a) want to hire locally and, (b) do not hire the unemployed or self employed.

This situation is unprecedented in my lifetime.

Locally, companies routinely receive 100-300 (or more) resumes per open position. I know because that's what I've been told.

The first cut HR makes is to eliminate the unemployed, the self employed, and the underemployed. I've been told that, too. In fact, it was a question I posed to LinkedIn awhile ago. I received a lot of replies from HR professionals across the country who confirmed my suspicion.

So, essentially, what you have right now -- no "negative" spin on the situation whatsoever -- is more people out of work than have been out of work in recent memory...higher taxes than we've had in a while...a political and economic climate that discourages growth and the pursuit of capitalism (in fact, the current administration outright hates capitalism)...and HR departments in companies that stick to out-moded rules for hiring; namely, they hire from within or from those employed at other companies before considering the unemployed or self employed.

Make of that what you wish. But those are the facts. I wish it were not so. A lot of my friends could stand to be re-hired. They're very talented people, some with decades of experience, some with only a few years. But all extremely well educated and qualified.

Can they start their own businesses? Sure. But to whom will they offer their services? Let's say a lot of ad agencies in West Michigan have gone out of business or laid off a lot of their workers. How many copywriters, designers, and marketing people can our city support when there are already too many?

I know people from all walks of life -- artists, marketers, mechanics, car salesmen, name it. Their stories are all the same: There's no work for them. And very little chance to start one's own business because the price for everything has been pushed so low it's hard to make a living selling anything or providing a service of any kind -- while costs have skyrocketed. You do the math.

Now, you can consider this "negative" if you wish. But it is what it is. My solution is this: sell whatever you can sell, pare down your life, live simply, return to the basics, and seek a different career via education. Go for a Bachelor's degree. Get a Master's. Obtain a Ph.D. Seek out grants. Use savings. (Just avoid debt.)

That’s Bill's take… How can we reach an ever increasing number of Bill’s and fold them back into the economy? Are they too far gone? I don’t believe so…but I think it will take all of us driving to change the economic landscape…often just one idea at a time. “A rising tide raises all boats” said Reagan. To get there, we have the responsibility of making a positive choice, the choice of how we react and recover from the lessons life has dealt us. The worker from Michigan may have to claw his way back into a useful skill set. He may have to uproot, and move all or only PART of his family away from their hometown to another State to find income. He may just have to do the hardest thing of all…change, and so might we.

Author's Bio: 

Author, Speaker, Entrepreneur. James J. Maioho is COO of and highly sought mentor, coach and strategist. Each of us can become the best possible versions of ourselves, one step at a time.