According to an Economic Policy Institute report, “In 1968, 48 percent of low-wage workers had a high school degree, compared to 79 percent in 2012.” Likewise, the percentage of people in these jobs who have spent some time in college has skyrocketed, jumping from under 17 percent to more than 45 percent in the same time.
According to an Economic Policy Institute report, “In 1968, 48 percent of low-wage workers had a high school degree, compared to 79 percent in 2012.” Likewise, the percentage of people in these jobs who have spent some time in college has skyrocketed, jumping from under 17 percent to more than 45 percent in the same time.All of us are in a race to the bottom of the wage pool.So when Stretch, the laconic, 34-year-old manager of a chain store I’ll call Sporting Goods Inc.
, and I spent my days covering the back-and-forth of presidential politics.
I had access to the White House because of my reporting beat, and I was a regular commentator on MSNBC.
One afternoon, upon hearing that Sporting Goods Inc.’s top managers were set to fly in from out of town for their annual review of their retail troops, Stretch went on a cleaning binge, clearing junk from the sales floor and the stockroom.
When he finished, and I saw the amount of garbage waiting for me to haul to the loading dock, I felt like Hercules at the Augean stables.
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If you don’t like the price you can remove the item from your cart.Although older job candidates bring experience and skills to the table, their job applications typically blink like red warning lights to retail managers: “Think about it, Joey—that’s why there are online applications,” my sister, a veteran human-resources professional, told me.“If you apply online, and you never hear back, they don’t have to tell you why they rejected you and face a discrimination lawsuit.” I soon realized the only way I’d have a shot in retail is if I dumbed down my job application, met directly with the person in charge before applying, and used my journalism story-telling skills to sell myself, stretching the truth past the breaking point. on an inspiration one day, asked for an application, and then asked to see the manager.Park your behind while on the clock, went the unspoken rule, and you might find it on a park bench scanning the want-ads for a new job.Another quick observation: Working in retail takes more skill than just selling stuff.After veteran reporter Joseph Williams lost his job, he found employment in a sporting-goods store.In a personal essay, he recalls his struggles with challenges millions of Americans return to day after day.Perhaps youthful nonchalance and the luxury of squandering my paycheck on clothes or beer had helped camouflage the indignities of minimum wage retail job, though I don’t ever recall being frisked at the door. “They tend to shrink in the wash.”* * *Obtaining work in retail had changed a lot since the 1980s.Yet over the decades, employee bag checks have become standard operating procedure in the retail environment, although some workers have pushed back. I needed something—anything—that resembled a steady job. That meant sucking it up and starting at the bottom rung. What used to require a paper application and a schmooze with the manager has turned into an antiseptic online process where human interaction—and the potential for an employment-discrimination complaint—is kept to a minimum. In person, thanks to good genes, people often assume I’m younger than I am.But in the wake of the obtained the court documents and published a piece, “Ex-Politico WH Correspondent Joe Williams Pleaded Guilty to Assaulting Ex-Wife.” Finding a new job went from hard to impossible: Some news outlets that had initially wanted my resume told me they’d changed their plans. That’s how I found myself working a retail job at a sporting goods store—the only steady job I could find after six months of unemployment in a down economy and a news industry in upheaval.In a matter of months, I was broke, depressed, and living on food stamps.