Paying a "living wage" for menial jobs

Duoae wrote:
In robot future everyone is English Major...

;)

Buddha save us.

“...cost of public assistance to families of workers in the fast-food industry is nearly $7 billion per year”

http://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/publ...

Well, it's their own fault for not getting a better job. There are tons of better jobs out there just waiting for these people to reach up and take them, so we should just do away with public assistance to give them the proper motivation.

/sarcasm

Cafe Hayek has a good audio discussion between Walter Williams and Thomas Sowell on the racist origins of the minimum wage workforce entry barrier. In a previous 2011 article on Townhall, Williams discusses a study showing the discriminatory effects of the minimum wage.

That second article showed zero causation and precious little correlation. The first was audio, and thus I could not partake.

Do you have examples where a lack of a minimum wage is beneficial to minorities?

It's Tom Sowell, so you can be sure the logic is suspect and self-serving, and the evidence picked like small, sour red fruits carefully selected for their particular flavor.

Paying a "living wage" for non-menial jobs:

From Welfare to the Tenure Track (Stacey Patton, Vitae)

Hypatian wrote:
Paying a "living wage" for non-menial jobs:

From Welfare to the Tenure Track (Stacey Patton, Vitae)

Interesting story, but if she had studied economics she would have realized that while History teachers do exist (and are necessary for a balanced education), the number of positions available are well... slim. A quick Google suggests that there are 57K positions where history is the primary assignment? With a population of over 300 million your chances of landing history as a primary job are almost like winning the lottery. Especially with the low turnover that teachers tend to have with unions and tenure.

I'm glad it worked out for her, but yeesh.

bandit0013 wrote:
Hypatian wrote:
Paying a "living wage" for non-menial jobs:

From Welfare to the Tenure Track (Stacey Patton, Vitae)

Interesting story, but if she had studied economics she would have realized that while History teachers do exist (and are necessary for a balanced education), the number of positions available are well... slim. A quick Google suggests that there are 57K positions where history is the primary assignment? With a population of over 300 million your chances of landing history as a primary job are almost like winning the lottery. Especially with the low turnover that teachers tend to have with unions and tenure.

I'm glad it worked out for her, but yeesh.

:%s/history teacher/another well paying job like programming or whatever.

bandit0013 wrote:
Hypatian wrote:
Paying a "living wage" for non-menial jobs:

From Welfare to the Tenure Track (Stacey Patton, Vitae)

Interesting story, but if she had studied economics she would have realized that while History teachers do exist (and are necessary for a balanced education), the number of positions available are well... slim. A quick Google suggests that there are 57K positions where history is the primary assignment? With a population of over 300 million your chances of landing history as a primary job are almost like winning the lottery. Especially with the low turnover that teachers tend to have with unions and tenure.

I'm glad it worked out for her, but yeesh.

Yeah this was pretty much my thoughts but didn't want to say so alone and just get the wrath of the dogpile. In all fairness, it's possible the single mom got left high and dry when she was almost done with her PhD studies and then had little time to change course. But if she was a single mom before starting her post-doc work, then she was either very naive or very selfish. At certain points in your life doors begin to close and IMHO you should never sacrifice your family to pursue your dream. Becoming a medieval history instructor is the dream of either somebody in their 20s who can live off of ramen for a decade, or somebody with a trust fund/wealthy professional spouse. In my own personal life, I had the opportunity to go work in video game marketing. But with an infant son at home I realized after a few months that the hours were too long, the pay way lower than I could make marketing commercial tech, and there was zero stability.

Final thought - my understanding is adjunct faculty either work salaried or on a contract basis. A raise in the min wage will not help them.

bandit0013 wrote:
A quick Google suggests that there are 57K positions where history is the primary assignment? With a population of over 300 million your chances of landing history as a primary job are almost like winning the lottery.

Although this is a totally nonsensical way to look at this and even a moment's reflection would expose that.

Very obviously the total market of people looking for history positions isn't 300mill so there is simply isn't any point in factoring 57K positions over the total population of the US. In fact that would only be relevant if the question you were asking was "what is the probability that a random newborn child will grow up to have a career in History". 57K positions factored over the total number of people with history PhDs or Masters degrees might get you closer but even then a surprising number of people who get higher degrees in a subject will not go on to careers directly related to the subject. So it isn't actually unreasonable for people to get higher degrees with a hope of using them in a career that requires said higher degree.

Having completed a PhD myself I can tell you that from the POV of a PhD candidate it is not obvious that there will be no tenure track jobs available when you come out the other side of it and no one involved in offering you a PhD has any incentive to point this out to you at any stage in the PhD process. PhD students are cheap labour (relative to professors or tenure tracked workers), so there is every incentive to take on many more PhDs than there will be available posts. The universities strongly sell the idea that a PhD is the first step in a research career but they sure aren't telling you that they are over training PhDs by a factor of up to 10. I doubt there has been a 1-to-1 mapping of PhDs awarded to available research posts available since the 60s,

If you do a PhD it's not typically until it is too late (once you're past the halfway point) that you might discover there won't be a job for you at the end. Of the 16 people I started my PhD with only 4 remain working in academia today. Only one of those who left moved in to a career directly related to their PhD work. In fact 90% of people who start a biology related PhD will have left academia within 10 years. There are many reasons for this but the main one is a total lack of stable long (or longish) term employment relative to the number of people competing for jobs.

Personally, I got lucky in that I did a STEM PhD and picked up a lot of saleable skills but the University system did nothing to inform me of my employment chances in my field of choice and nor did they give me any help in understanding how to take my skills and transition out of the system. I have every sympathy for Melissa Bruninga-Matteau, she'll have started her PhD, in part, on the basis that she was being sold the training for a career and on finding out there were no jobs I'd put good money she'd have felt fairly trapped having also had no tuition on how to transfer her research and teaching skills to the wider labour market.

tl;dr "she should have known there were no jobs before she started" is a bullsh*t post hoc criticism

Edit: to say nothing of the fact that education serves other purposes beyond those that are strictly financial or careers based

Question for bandit and jd: Does "society" (the government, the media, the public and post-secondary education systems) bear any responsibility for changing how it treats individuals and their life-paths, say by "streaming" in high school, more aggressively counseling college-bound students, and publicizing forecasts of job futures and earnings?

Something people may not have noted when reading that article, which was the main point: She [em]was[/em] able to get academic positions. She was not able to get positions which paid her enough to get off of welfare.

So the issue is not that people with teaching degrees can't get teaching jobs, it's that people with teaching degrees can't get teaching jobs that pay a fair wage.

DanB wrote:
tl;dr "she should have known there were no jobs before she started" is a bullsh*t post hoc criticism

I have a PhD, and I felt it was pretty obvious going in that academic positions are extremely thin and pay pretty sh*t. The system is certainly not geared towards telling you this, but even a brief amount of time looking makes this apparent. Looking where students end up via webpages, asking around about faculty hiring practices, examining the salaries for public employees, just straight up Googling -- more than most poor educational choices, I think it's pretty easy to see before taking the plunge that getting a PhD is a (very very) bad idea in terms of money and job availability. And those thinking of pursuing a PhD are a bit older than undergraduates, and hopefully a bit smarter than the average undergraduate... they are capable of knowing beforehand what they're committing to.

Is there a "personal responsibility" bingo card to check off beloved social-darwinist phrases?

that article wrote:
In a recent study, Rand Ghayad a Ph.D. candidate at Northeastern University, sent out 4,800 dummy résumés to job postings. Those résumés that were supposedly from recently unemployed applicants with no relevant experience were more likely to elicit a call for an interview than those supposedly from experienced workers out of a job for more than six months. Indeed, the callback rate for the long-term jobless ranged from just 1 to 3 percent, versus 9 to 16 percent for newly unemployed workers.

DanB wrote:

Very obviously the total market of people looking for history positions isn't 300mill so there is simply isn't any point in factoring 57K positions over the total population of the US. In fact that would only be relevant if the question you were asking was "what is the probability that a random newborn child will grow up to have a career in History".

You seem to be ignoring that in a pool of 57K jobs that people don't quit their job every year, especially in teaching which has tenured position. 57K jobs available in aggregate, and how much TURNOVER is there in those positions. Not much... but hey, let's assume that 10% of people quit the field and never return every year... 5700 position out of how many total college students? Like I said, it's like winning the lottery. As an investment in your life it's a very, very poor choice. She's certainly free to pursue her passion, but she certainly should be aware of the odds.

H.P. Lovesauce wrote:
Question for bandit and jd: Does "society" (the government, the media, the public and post-secondary education systems) bear any responsibility for changing how it treats individuals and their life-paths, say by "streaming" in high school, more aggressively counseling college-bound students, and publicizing forecasts of job futures and earnings?

Yes. Yes we do. I think it's absolute bullsh*t that we pump kids full of the nonsense that you MUST have a college degree to succeed (ignoring the highly profitable opportunities in the trades) and that we've set up a student loan system that allows people who have almost no knowledge of debt and personal finance to acquire non-dischargable debt in the six figures pursuing knowledge that will not pay the bills.

I would love to see us reform higher education to where the amount available in student loans is correlated directly to the job prospects and average salaries in that field. You want to study medieval history? Go ahead, but the government will only pay you $10k for that, because, well, that's all that knowledge is worth. Go convince a bank to give you a private loan, good luck.

DanB wrote:

tl;dr "she should have known there were no jobs before she started" is a bullsh*t post hoc criticism

Edit: to say nothing of the fact that education serves other purposes beyond those that are strictly financial or careers based

Education absolutely serves other purposes. The question is whether we as a society should be enabling people to take on excessive debt to the point of this woman not being able to pay her bills, having a low self esteem, probably health and stress problems to (she probably can't pay for medical care either). I would argue that the system as-is has done her a great disservice by enabling her to get into this position in the first place.

This is something in general I have never "gotten" about people. If you can't trust someone to research that there's no job prospects in the field, why do you trust them with the massive student loans in the first place? Either people make choices and have some consequences, or you remove the bad choices from people who obviously aren't mature enough to have them.

Given that I train people for a living now for tech work, I can't even describe to you the despair I come across from young people, mid 20s, who have racked up 100k in debt, can't afford their student loan bills, and their degree in linguistics can't put food on the table. It is criminal that we let colleges get away with putting people in this situation.

/end rant

bandit0013 wrote:
DanB wrote:

Very obviously the total market of people looking for history positions isn't 300mill so there is simply isn't any point in factoring 57K positions over the total population of the US. In fact that would only be relevant if the question you were asking was "what is the probability that a random newborn child will grow up to have a career in History".

You seem to be ignoring that in a pool of 57K jobs that people don't quit their job every year, especially in teaching which has tenured position. 57K jobs available in aggregate, and how much TURNOVER is there in those positions. Not much... but hey, let's assume that 10% of people quit the field and never return every year... 5700 position out of how many total college students? Like I said, it's like winning the lottery. As an investment in your life it's a very, very poor choice. She's certainly free to pursue her passion, but she certainly should be aware of the odds.


You've still got these numbers kinda wrong. It's not 5,700 positions against the total number of US college students. It's 5,700 positions factored against the number of people taking higher research degrees in that field. Research employment is a small pool of jobs but you're really only competing with the rarefied and relative small subset of folk who are sufficiently qualified. It is difficult to get a post but it's nowhere near lottery win difficult, so it's simply not unreasonable to believe that with a bit of perseverance you'll get a job at the other end.

bandit0013 wrote:
Interesting story, but if she had studied economics she would have realized that while History teachers do exist (and are necessary for a balanced education), the number of positions available are well... slim. A quick Google suggests that there are 57K positions where history is the primary assignment?

You made multiple errors and erroneous assumptions, bandit.

The biggest was assuming that there were 57,000 jobs total for people with history degrees. Had you really read the blog, you would have realized that they were commenting on a report that dealt solely with public high school teachers (grades 9-12). [And the most current survey puts it at 60,100.]

That number certainly didn't cover any jobs that might be available in private high schools. Or elementary or middle schools. Not universities. Or community colleges. Or museums. Or any other job where having a history degree might be useful or give you a perspective that someone who gets a traditional business or technical degree would never have.

So the number of available jobs is much greater than what you assumed.

bandit0013 wrote:
You seem to be ignoring that in a pool of 57K jobs that people don't quit their job every year, especially in teaching which has tenured position. 57K jobs available in aggregate, and how much TURNOVER is there in those positions. Not much... but hey, let's assume that 10% of people quit the field and never return every year... 5700 position out of how many total college students? Like I said, it's like winning the lottery. As an investment in your life it's a very, very poor choice. She's certainly free to pursue her passion, but she certainly should be aware of the odds.

Again, you're using bad information and making erroneous assumptions. Even beyond the ones you made above, you're also assuming that people always get a job in a field that's related to what they got their degree in. The business world is full of people whose degree is tangentially related at best to what they currently do for a living.

bandit0013 wrote:

Yes. Yes we do. I think it's absolute bullsh*t that we pump kids full of the nonsense that you MUST have a college degree to succeed (ignoring the highly profitable opportunities in the trades) and that we've set up a student loan system that allows people who have almost no knowledge of debt and personal finance to acquire non-dischargable debt in the six figures pursuing knowledge that will not pay the bills.

I would love to see us reform higher education to where the amount available in student loans is correlated directly to the job prospects and average salaries in that field. You want to study medieval history? Go ahead, but the government will only pay you $10k for that, because, well, that's all that knowledge is worth. Go convince a bank to give you a private loan, good luck.

We tell kids that they should have a college degree to succeed because it is still a true statement: a college-educated worker will earn a sh*tload more than a high school-educated worker. And that gap is pay widening, not shrinking.

There's also been a shift in the trades where additional education is required for jobs that used to require very little education. My father was a welder for most of his career. Today he'd be f*cked because even though he was a highly skilled manual welder, he knows jack sh*t about computer-controlled machines that are now used to cut and weld metal in most factories today.

And that's pretty much par for the course everywhere: workers need more training and education if only to keep up with the general computerization of everything. And if you don't, then you are classified as unskilled labor.

I certainly wouldn't want a system where student loans were geared towards the earning potential of a related job because all the student loan money would go towards math majors who pledged to work in the financial industry where they'd make the next "innovative financial product" that would cause the next economic collapse.

The strength of our economy comes from it's diversity. Outside of making general statements like we could always use more STEM folks, there's really no way for us to determine how valuable a particular degree is going to be nor should we be passing judgement on people who decide on their major because they have a passion for the topic and instead of because it's high earning potential.

You're right, OG, and that's why even though I generally agree with bandit, I don't think putting a current-value on student loans for specific degrees solves the problem.

And yet only the most delusional would argue that an English or theater or religion or history degree is worth the astronomical costs higher ed is charging for them. Id rather see a complete closing of the student loan money spigot and encouraging college institutions to price their products accurately.

Not that I expected many people in this forum to be able to look critically at the education system. Nooooo, let's nitpick the math instead of discussing that gee, there really aren't that many jobs for medieval history PHDs. Maybe we should reconsider spending 100k on them.

And the pay gap for college degree'd people vs not is widening because the bachelors degree is the new high school diploma because we continue to shove people into higher education who don't need to be there.

But it's cool, we only have a few trillion in student loan debt that no one can repay. Let's keep pushing double digit inflation for higher education and keep pumping out fine arts majors in a world that doesn't want them. After all, it's a GOOD THING for people to spend 4-5 years and 100k earning a degree of which 15% of your credit hours are actually job relevant, and in many fields (computers) what you learn is already obsolete by the time you graduate.

This system is coming down, it's only a matter of time.

And sorry if I'm a bit bitter. I just got done interviewing a person for apprenticeship today, a grown freaking man who broke down into tears because his student loans are starting repayment and running him more than I pay for a mortgage on a house, and he can't find employment outside of retail work. English major.

**Edit**

I should probably share that he said the thing I've heard dozens of times at this point. "Everyone said if I went to college everything would be fine."

Seth wrote:
And yet only the most delusional would argue that an English or theater or religion or history degree is worth the astronomical costs higher ed is charging for them. Id rather see a complete closing of the student loan money spigot and encouraging college institutions to price their products accurately.

I see the issue more coming from the folks that go into debt to get a nearly worthless two-year Associates Degree in Business Administration than I do with someone with a four year English or history degree from a somewhat reputable college.

We've gone over this before in different threads and the schools that are really racking up the student debt are the for-profit colleges that have popped up in recent years. They are most definitely taking massive advantage of the federal guarantee for student loans.

bandit0013 wrote:
Not that I expected many people in this forum to be able to look critically at the education system. Nooooo, let's nitpick the math instead of discussing that gee, there really aren't that many jobs for medieval history PHDs. Maybe we should reconsider spending 100k on them.

If you want to critique the education system, then do it. No one's stopping you.

I merely pointed out that your entire argument was based erroneous (and old) information.

bandit0013 wrote:

And the pay gap for college degree'd people vs not is widening because the bachelors degree is the new high school diploma because we continue to shove people into higher education who don't need to be there.

I'm comfortable accepting the 30+ year trend data from the Census Bureau over your take on the subject, bandit.

And, rather than laying the blame that the feet of the education system, you might want to accept that our economy has changed rather significantly and the days of an uneducated, unskilled worker living the middle class dream are over. The trades can absorb some of those people, but there's only so many plumbers or carpenters the economy can support. That means we really do have to shove more people into higher education unless we're just going to condemn all those folks to sh*tty, low paying jobs in retail and service where there is literally no room for advancement.

OG_slinger wrote:
That means we really do have to shove more people into higher education unless we're just going to condemn all those folks to sh*tty, low paying jobs in retail and service where there is literally no room for advancement.

So your solution to a mediocre performer in school is to push them into more school so they can be mediocre or subpar AND be saddled with $100k in debt?

Good jobs aren't out there in sufficient numbers, bandit. College degree or not. That's what this thread is about, not the education system.

[edit]To be specific, I'm not trying to pick directly on you. Rather that the "medieval history PhD" sidetopic is severely derailing this thread.