Fine-tuning the keywords on your résumé

Fine-tuning the keywords on your résumé January 31, 2012

The Consumerist offers the latest in an endless series of articles giving helpful advice to those seeking jobs that don’t exist. This one is about “Tips for Beating the Résumé-Reading Robots of Doom.” Keywords, gaming the system, yada yada.

It’s possible such tips and tricks might make a difference for someone, and I’m sure they’re offered in a genuine attempt to be helpful. But still, after the first 40 or 50 or 500 such articles, it becomes hard to read such advice without it all seeming like it’s an attempt to assign blame. We’ve got more than four jobless workers for every job opening. It’s aggregate demand, stupid. That is why we have widespread, enduring unemployment. Not because we have 14 million people who haven’t sufficiently tweaked the keywords in their résumés for optimal automated sifting.

These earnest offerings of advice all start to blur together after a few weeks, all fusing into a single accusing finger. “You there, member of the 14-million-strong army of the idle, you need to shape up and fix this.” Get to work at finding work. It’s about shoe leather. Pounding the pavement. Working the phone. Surfing the Web. Hop to it!

But they never tell you how to deal with having done all that. They don’t warn you about the bewildering, befuddling vertigo that comes with having done everything they say to do, all to no avail, and having no idea what to do next. There you are, willing and eager to wear away whatever leather there still is on your shoes, but you have no idea what direction to walk. There sits the phone, but you have no one left to call. And you’ve refined your online job-searching skills to the point where it takes you only a fraction of the time to confirm that there’s nothing out there.

Now what? What happens when something must be done, but there is nothing left to do about having nothing to do?

Such repetitive futility is sometimes described as “Sisyphean,” but you come to envy Sisyphus. He never doubts his next step. He has a task at hand and knows what is required and expected of him. The boulder must be rolled up the hill again, and though his back is breaking and his muscles shudder from exhaustion, he will roll it.

But you haven’t got a boulder. Or a hill. Point me to a boulder, you think, and I will gladly break myself pushing it wherever it needs to go. But you’re not Sisyphus and no one is asking you to do that. No one is asking you to do anything. You’ve been trying to get someone to ask you to do something, but no one will.

It’s been five minutes now. Maybe it’s not too soon to check all those websites again. It’s unlikely that anything new will have appeared on there in just the last five minutes, but you’ve got a long list of sites to check, and by the time you reach the end of that list even more time will have passed. If you wait a bit longer you might have more grounds for hope. If you wait 10 minutes instead of five, then it’s twice as likely that some new job opening will have appeared, right? Or does the math not work that way? You’re not sure, but you wait another five minutes, or maybe only another two, confirming that your inbox is still empty and that the phone has still not rung, and then you check that list of websites again.

Still nothing.

A whole hour can go by in such 10-minute increments. It passes by and you have nothing to show for it and you ask yourself where that hour went, where that day went, where that week went. It seems a waste of time, like that old bit about the definition of insanity being doing the same thing over again but expecting different results. But it still seems a bit more sane than doing nothing, and you don’t know what else to try, what else to do.

But it’s not quite so regular and steady as that, really. It’s a bit more manic-depressive. The depressive part sneaks up on you. You just sort of notice at some point that you’d stopped, that you’d been sitting there frozen, paralyzed for you don’t know how long. And then you launch yourself back at it in a manic, directionless frenzy. Either way, the results are the same. When there is nothing to do, you can’t do it harder. When you have run out of ideas, out of leads, out of options and plans and possibilities, when you just plain don’t know what to do next, then urgency is as useless as inertia.

I need to take a break from this, you start to think, then catch yourself, wondering how you can take a break from having nothing to do, wondering how it is that having nothing to do can be, at times, so exhausting. And but still, life is life and you have all those other things to do — laundry and dishes to wash, grass to mow, leaves to rake, snow to shovel. (How did it get to be winter already?) You’re grateful for all these tasks and chores, and you perform them with greater care and zeal than ever. And then, remembering, you rush back to check again that list of websites, to confirm the emptiness of the inbox and the silence of the phone.

And so time elapses without its passage bringing you any closer to any destination. When there is nothing to be done, you can never be finished doing it.

“How’s the job-hunt going?” someones asks you.

“Oh, you know,” you say, surprised to hear what sounds like cheerfulness in your own voice. “I’m surfing the Web, working the phone, pounding the pavement, fine-tuning the keywords on my résumé …”

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  • Mks Mary

    Please, at the very least, put up a tip jar and link to it at the bottoms of posts for those of us who read via rss. If you can, try to come up with some “premium content” and let us buy subscriptions. Look into self publishing, but collect pledges for purchases first to make sure you’ll make back your investment. Maybe do ut as a Kickstarter project. Even think about collecting some donations for good causes other than your own… You would be an ideal person to run a politically active non-profit, and people who run charities are allowed to oay themselves out of the funds they raise.

    Pkease, monetize my eyeballs!

  • Demonhype

    Yes, I even had one eighteen-year-old co-worker tell me that anyone who is unemployed for more than a few months, especially if it’s over a year, are just lazy worthless bums (in a conversation about the current economic situation and how scary it would be for me to go to another state, thousands of miles away from anyone I know, and not be able to find work).  He didn’t know what to say when I told him that I had  been unemployed for two years and seasonally employed for one year before getting this non-seasonal minimum-wage part-time job.  (And believe me, I had been looking hard but after a year of that you start losing any hope.  I lost my previous non-seasonal job due to my car’s breaks going out on the way to work, just as the economic crisis blew up and jobs were non-existent.)

  • Anonymous

    What worries me, given the current administration’s complete apathy towards the poor and unemployed, is that we have enough such people to constitute an army.

    I don’t want the disenfranchised and disillusioned in this country to start another French Revolution, but the longer this drags on, the more likely such a thing becomes.  I want my country to survive, but my government seems hellbent on ensuring that she doesn’t and that the worst-case scenario comes to pass.

    I am literally terrified for democracy and the United States.

  • Anonymous

    I can just barely stand a two-week break for the holidays without going insane.  Actual unemployment would kill me, even if I won the lottery or something.

    As for Fred–well, I get a large percentage of my news from this blog. I trust Fred far more than the benighted “journalists” on TV.

  • Demonhype

    When was this magical time in the late nineties when McD’s paid teens $8 an hour?  I worked there from 1996 to early 1997, started at $4.50 and only ended up with $5.15 halfway through because the law upped the minimum wage.

  • Demonhype

    I do agree with the feudal thing though.  I’ve been saying the upper class has been trying to create a neo-feudal state in our country for a while now, and it’s great that other people are starting to use that very accurate word to describe our would-be aristocratic overlords.

  • Anonymous

    I want to agree with Mks Mary.  I’d totally buy a book of essays by Fred Clark. 

  • Anonymous

    Especially high schools.  I went to a charter school in which students actually took more AP courses than colleges could accept credit for, and had it drilled into our heads that we were all going to college for something and how to get into a good one (and maybe even get a scholarship).  Every now and then, I still get an ad for colleges (most often Liberty University, which baffles me) a full DECADE after my high school graduation.  We were conditioned to make ourselves irresistible to colleges.

    My mother taught at a high school in a poorer part of town, and the unspoken assumption by counselors and the administration was that few of them would even WANT to go to college.  So little, if any, information was available, and you had to actively seek it out. If your grades were good, and you actively sought it out, you could take an honors-level course. But you didn’t necessarily know about that. KLEP and AP were unheard-of.  If you didn’t know that getting ready for college starts in 10th grade, well, tough.  Maybe the local community college will let you attend, kid, but don’t expect to transfer to anyplace nice.

    I started looking at colleges the summer before senior year (if you intend to start right after high school, you pretty much have to).  We came across a young lady who’d already graduated, and didn’t realize it was late for her to start looking at colleges, because no one in her family had gone to college, and none of her counselors had bothered to explain the process to her.

    The current stratification of educational opportunity among class lines is disturbingly firmly entrenched, and definitely starts at the K-12 level. I would argue that, although it doesn’t get really nasty until high school, it starts in the early elementary years.

  • Demonhype

    Regarding top schools vs. second-tier:  Even if the top schools might have better training, that doesn’t necessitate that someone from that top school is going to be the better candidate.  Considering how many top schools are also the most expensive and how many extremely qualified students are forced to go to “inferior” schools while less qualified students get the good school on daddy’s dime–well, that doesn’t fill me with the greatest confidence that those top schools are starting with the best raw material.

    I speak as someone who had to graduate at 28 because she was working her fingers to the bone to afford to go to school while watching richer kids with a fraction of my ability getting a free ride from their parents.  And then going to my expensive private school and absolutely delighting even my gen ed teachers as one of the few interested and engaging students in a sea of dull entitled resentment (I had teachers stop in the halls the year later to tell me how wonderful it was to have me in the class, or write that on my final paper) and, in many cases, complete lack of talent with a fervent believe that having the money to buy a degree makes talent, brains or actual work unnecessary.  The teacher would try to have a discussion but few were interested in bothering.

    When I went to my other school I found myself in an environment of less-affluent students who wanted to learn and were engaged in the learning process, many of whom were paying for it themselves and so understood the value of being there.  Some had the same infuriating experience of struggling in some menial job while watching less deserving people get catapulted ahead of them only because they were born rich.  When these teachers in this school spoke, these kids listened, and when they opened up class discussion and question time they didn’t have to face a sullen privileged silence.  You can’t tell me that an eager student in a second-tier school is automatically inferior to a top school student whose only qualification (and this is putting it politely) is that he went to a top school due to daddy’s pile of money and little else.

  • Demonhype

    I know.  My brother and I just had a falling out because he considers me a deadbeat loser for being unemployed and living at home.  I was the only kid who took advantage of the only thing our parents could offer us to help with college:  free room and board.  And even then I had to wait until the FAFSA would no longer consider what they had and would  give me a loan, so I had to work and save my money as much as possible.  Then, after all that, I graduate in 2008, spend the next several months with my college PT weekend job while trying to find work when there were no jobs, getting fired late in the year due to brakes going out on the way to work, and spending years unemployed and unable to find work–only to find some seasonal work and then a PT min-wage job that barely allows me to cover the car gas and pay my basic bills (w/o student loan repayments, which had to go on deferment) and will never pay enough to let me leave home, and even if it did I literally couldn’t handle the hours at this job either physically or psychologically.  If I’d known I would graduate into, as you said, the worst recession in 70 years and end up still living in this hoarder house with no ray of hope in sight for even subsistence wages and hours in a menial position, I never would have left my cushy full-time office job at a pretty damned good company to attend school.

    Yeah, my brother and I are pretty much finished.

  • Demonhype

    How.  Fucking.  Offensive.

    Yes, our generation has been ruined because we are not willing to work like slaves and be paid slave wages or starve and quite possibly starve on our feet while working for slave wages, because if we are expected to work we expect to have some damn regulations to make sure we have enough jobs to go around, because we feel legislation should benefit and protect the well being of the people and not the privilege of the corporations, because when we pay as much for an education as we would for a home we expect at least some reasonable ability to get some kind of investment return such as a decent enough career to pay back that exhorbitant loan we were forced to take out because we’re not obscenely rich (tuition for which, BTW, has been costing exponentially more every year since the old-folks “day”, to the point where onlybecause when being screwed over we are kicking up a fuss instead of rolling over and allowing the rich corporate asshole to squash us flat.

    We’ve all been ruined because we aren’t content to accept the “livestock” status the upper 1% has place upon us.  How awful we are, and how badly we’ve been treating that poor Monopoly plutocrat–he’s crying into his hideous mustache.

  • Demonhype

    Sorry, missed something in there.

    “(tuition for which, BTW, has been costing exponentially more every year
    since the old-folks “day”, to the point where only the upper 1% can afford to be educated), because when being
    screwed over we are kicking up a fuss instead of rolling over and
    allowing the rich corporate asshole to squash us flat.”


  • Demonhype

    The people orchestrating this problem intend to make this country into a replica of pre-Revolution France and hoping to avoid any pushback–at least, not until they themselves have been long dead from either old age or abject gluttony.  They see that as a utopia.  I don’t think anything short of another French Revolution will stop them, personally, and I certainly don’t want to spend much, if any, time in the nightmare they are trying to create for the rest of us.

    I am also terrified.  This is turning into a nightmare.

  • It was right near the end of the 1990s economic expansion, when unemployment fell towards 4% (2% for white people); under those conditions wages WILL rise. I don’t have comprehensive links for you but I do recall such stories beginning to show up.

  • Anonymous

    Thanks for the link. Also, welcome to the community, don’t kill us with sheep!

  • Anonymous

    You can’t tell me that an eager student in a second-tier school is automatically inferior to a top school student whose only qualification (and this is putting it politely) is that he went to a top school due to daddy’s pile of money and little else.

    If you read my post, I wasn’t talking about the college level. In fact, I explicitly stated that, at the college level, most degrees in a particular field are (almost) interchangeable: virtually all universities will work from the same textbooks and follow similar curricula. There are differences, [1] but a good student from one university will be pretty similar to another.

    At the Ph.D. level in the sciences (which is where I’m at), things are very different. Graduate programs pay you to attend them. (Although there is a massive pay cut relative to going directly into private companies, there isn’t much of a pay differential between schools.) In general, the top tier universities will have accepted better graduate students (and, since the dropout rate from most Ph.D. programs is exceedingly high — something like 30-75%, depending upon the school and the professor — that means they’re going to only be graduating the best of those graduate students) [2]. Top tier universities also typically are much more demanding — you’re going to put in many more hours — and they also teach you how to *think* about science on a much more advanced level. Universities often also specialize (and professors definitely specialize), so if a company wants people with a particular skill set, it’s not unreasonable for them to favor people from a specific university or from a specific advisor.

    The system isn’t perfect: it’s very hard to get into a top-tier school, and students who aren’t prepared — no matter how smart they are — are quite likely to be overwhelmed and drop out early on. It’s also hard on people with families, people who are location dependent, or people with credit card debts or other debts that can’t be delayed until after graduate school. But the assumption that individuals from top-tier departments at the graduate level are going to be better than those from lower ranked schools is valid, to a certain extent. There are exceptions, of course, but it’s nowhere near as feudalistic as it seems. The problem emerges mostly from the early steps along one’s academic career: the quality of one’s high school and college educations basically determine whether or not it’s possible to survive at a good university.

    [1] From my experience, individuals from flagship public universities will have had exposure to more classes, particularly graduate-level classes, and almost certainly will have done research in a group composed of (trained) graduate students; on the other hand, people from smaller schools will generally have had more face time with professors and will have been exposed to a broader range of subjects.

    [2] Two points: First, the dropout rate is a feature, not a bug (basically, if you don’t cut it, the school doesn’t want to have you represent it); second, although some dropouts will be random (asshole professors, etc.), most profs will talk a good student down from the ledge or suggest that a poor student leave with a master’s.

  • mmy

    Graduate school……
    Also, places specialize and skill sets aren’t interchangible. At the college level, it’s reasonably safe to assume that, to some extent, a degree is a degree: people will attend most of the same classes and use a lot of the same textbooks. At the graduate level, things are very different — what one professor does isn’t necessarily the same as another, and institutions will specialize in certain fields.

    This, very much this. If your department has three subdisciplines (which mine did) and you are hiring someone to replace a colleague who taught (researched, was published in) one of those subdisciplines  then the person you are hiring has to be a specialist in the same subdiscipline. From outside all of those PhDs may look interchangeable but from the inside they are not. To think that they are is to think that just because someone can speak French they can teach German or because someone can code in FORTRAN they are good at different computer language.And graduate schools attended is a good (although not definitive) indicator of what subdiscipline the job applicant will be knowledgeable in.

  • Anonymous

    The current stratification of educational opportunity among class lines is disturbingly firmly entrenched, and definitely starts at the K-12 level. I would argue that, although it doesn’t get really nasty until high school, it starts in the early elementary years.

    I think it starts a lot earlier than that — there’s a lot of educational opportunities kids will miss early on if they’re not offered them. (That’s one of the major reasons why the attempts to offer “equalize” classes by eliminating honors classes at the lower levels irritates me. That and that, until you hit the advanced courses in high school, everything is covered a thousand times: if you don’t learn it the first time, you’ll see it again in a few months or the next year. It took me several years to get adjusted to the fact that that doesn’t happen in advanced courses, and, because of that, even though I intuitively ‘get’ a lot of math, I don’t have a solid foundation in calculus (for example). Up until that point, studying didn’t *matter* that much.)

  • Guest

    Sounds like “Bright-sided” : “if you were more positive and used the magic words” etc.

  • Anonymous

    Bible Literalist, Franciscan Pedagogy, vs Art and Culture-based, Intellectual Jesuit Pedagogy

    So which were you?  :-)

  • There’s something wrong with a world where I feel privileged because I have a steady full-time job – working at Walgreens.  Today no less than four people came into the store asking about employment opportunities.  Which we don’t have, because the store just announced a hiring freeze.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    This is what massive unemployment does to people: turns them against
    each other and creates no-win situations in which for someone to gain,
    someone else has to lose. And the Devil takes the hindmost.

    “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.” – Jay Gould, After hiring strikebreakers.

  • I know I shouldn’t come back for a second helping of commentariat-thumping, but something’s been bothering me.

    I hate “The Secret” and it’s ilk with a deep and burning passion, because a genuine, whole-hearted embrace of those kinds of philosophies contains some pretty horrible victim-blaming. Likewise, I don’t care at all things like “the power of positive thinking” or “affirmations” or “intercessionary prayer” because all of those things are forms of magical thinking, and unless they’re paired with and grounded to some reality-checks, you run the risk of creating a pretty strong self-sustaining delusion.

    At the same time, it isn’t entirely snake oil. If you start each day with your head held high, you really will see things you might not see if your eyes were lowered to the ground. It’s not magic, there’s still effort required, and you still have to take the initiative, take the action, but by changing your attitude, you will percieve the world differently, and be percieved differently. It’s a far more subtle effect than angels and trumpets (or money magically appearing in your wallet) but there does seem to be something to it.

    I don’t know how to untangle advice about attitude and perspective that doesn’t inadvertantly blame victims. It does seem that when you’ve reached the stage of thinking “I need a job, any job at all”, that’s not helping. It’s a perfectly human, perfectly reasonable reaction, but you wind up communicating the wrong things to prospective employers.

    I guess it’s a little victim-blaming to say “If what you’re doing now isn’t working, try something different”. My own arc in job searching started at “What kind of jobs are like the ones I did before?” before sliding to “what kind of jobs am I qualified for?”, moving further down to “What jobs could I reasonably be hired at?”, and at my nadir “Who will hire me?!?!” I kept ‘casting a wider net’, treating getting a job like landing a fish, and kept getting worse and worse returns.

    I’ve found that sometimes, the reason I can’t find the right answers is because I’m not always asking the right questions. After almost two years of asking “Where can I work?” and “Who would hire me?”, I tried approaching the problem with a different set of questions. “What kind of work do I really want to do? How much responsibility do I want? How large of a company do I want to work for, and doing what sort of business?”

    For me personally, changing my questions had an effect. Some of the answers I got were nothing new, but steered me away from bad choices. (I am too cowardly to start my own business or work on comission, whatever my other skills might be) Other answers were surprising and led me to consider options I hadn’t looked at, and to accept opportunities I probably would have ignored otherwise. I took temp work, even though I desperately wanted permanent employment. I took part-time work, and worked two jobs, even though all I wanted was 40 hours a week of living wage. I didn’t do these things because I had to, I did these things because while they weren’t exactly what I wanted, there were elements of those jobs that I did want.

  • darms

    After 1.5 years of unemployment I got off the application treadmill but now it’s been almost four years. Really tough to come to terms with after working & being self-supporting for over 38 years. The missus makes good money & our expenses are low (no kids ever) so I’m really lucky but all the same, I really hate that my industry here was sent to China and I really hate losing my independence. The only good news I guess is that I stopped ‘feeding the beast’, all credit cards are paid off every month, the cable company gets reamed everytime they raise my rates (when they stop reducing my bill we unplug) and if we have to buy it on credit we do not need it. Am hoping for a massive aneurysm or heart attack to step off this mortal coil as I’ve had my fill… 

  • Baeraad

    Meh. For someone who starts his article by saying that his apology isn’t a backhanded insult, it all reads a lot like, “it’s our fault, for raising you to be lazy, entitled bums who think that honest work is beneath you.”

    And he can stick his “file sharing has ruined the entertainment industry” hand-wringing up his ass, too. Back before digital media, artists still created art – they just didn’t get paid the big bucks for it. Then suddenly, you could record a performance once and then sit back and rake in the money from selling endless copies. Woohoo! Except now, creating new copies has gotten so easy that that clever little system doesn’t work very well anymore. Tough. Technological progress giveth, and technological progress taketh it away – so stop whineth about it.

    (now watch as I seamlessly fold my current pet peeve back into the main discussion…)

    Of course, while the difficulty in making a living from his art didn’t stop Mozart from writing wonderful music, he did die poor as a church mouse, and that’s certainly a shame. That is the exact reason why we need to move towards a “citizen salary” system, where everyone is guaranteed an above-sustenance-level income, no matter what.

    As many here have pointed out, people have a *need* to work, to be useful. Oh, there are a couple of weirdos who don’t mind being bums – enough of them so that each right-wing jerk knows or has heard of at least one that he can point to as evidence for why no one works if they don’t have to. But most of us need a purpose with the same intensity that we need food, shelter, safety and love. Giving everyone their material needs will ensure that they do what they believe to be the most meaningful thing they can, regardless of whether it is currently possible to build a business model for it.

    Fred has certainly shown that he doesn’t need to be paid as a journalist in order to report on world events. What he needs is financial safety so he isn’t distracted from doing his thing by worrying about making a living.

    (and yes, sign me up as another one who would be happy to make regular donations, as long as I have an income of my own)

  • Anonymous

    Oh believe me, I know.  I’m not sure how much of my focus issues in school were ADHD, and how much were, “But we already learned this stuff last year!!”  Grammar especially–it was the same thing, over and over, from fourth to ninth grade.  Small wonder I didn’t learn to study until I was in college–if you have it drilled into you that many times, studying becomes a formality.

    And…like I said, it starts in the early elementary years.  In addition to what you mentioned, there’s also the problem that low-income areas generally can’t attract good teachers, and may end up with incompetents, power-trippers, etc. who DO NOT need to be in our nation’s schools at all.

    Birmingham City Schools has come under scrutiny for tazing elementary-school kids.  Bad teachers can cause all sorts of damage, especially in the early years.  (This sort of madness is why Jefferson County, AL is split into dozens of school districts–no one wants their kids schooled under JeffCo or Birmingham City.)

  • A propos:

    The music industry has been trying on this alarmist crap for 30 years now.

  • The Latter. I wanted to make the theology intelligent and real to my students. He wanted just theory based and basics.

  • Brad

    I was unemployed (and semi-employed – lots of temp jobs) for most of the past five years. I’ve been working at my present job since August. It’d be nice if it had benefits, but…

    When you go back to full-time work you have to make a real adjustment  – those errands, cheap movie Tuesdays, etc. are much harder to get to. I’m reading fewer books than I was just last year – spending more of my free time online.

    Also I need to get more exercise. At my most diligent I got in a half-hour of mall-walking a day; now I’m reading “Sitting Kills, Moving Heals.”

    One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is the number of career groups, where the unemployed go to compare notes, listen to guest speakers, go on mock interviews and the like. In the Dallas-Fort Worth area there are enough of these meetings that a job seeker could go to at least one a day, and each one counts as a job search activity. 

  • Speaking of. You know how Stephen Harper and his buddies keep crowing about how good Canada has done over the last few years relative to other countries?

    The shine’s gone off that vehicle, all right.

  • I was going to go find that Onion article myself.

    My most recent bout of unemployment was the cushiest, most privileged imaginable: being laid off by a gigantic, rich software firm, which actually paid me to look for a job for two months, and provided all sorts of employment counseling, and even let me use the office until they were done shutting the place down.

    And it *still* started to drive me batty after a while.

    One thing I remember about it was that while I suddenly had plenty of time to go and exercise, somehow I couldn’t bring myself to do it.  There was something about the gnawing fear that just kicked exercise right off the radar, as emotionally beneficial as it probably would have been.  Time that I was exercising would have been time that I wasn’t working on getting a job.  Which was, you know, clicking on websites, tweaking the keywords in my resume…

  • Hey, the pundits are celebrating because the US unemployment rate is *down* to 8.3%; Canada’s still ahead.

    (But the US rate does seem to be dropping, and it seems to be because of actual job growth, which is something.  However, I think it’s highly concentrated in a few metropolitan areas.)

  • Catrina_dirk

    Oh Fred, I read this post and my heart breaks for you. I don’t know why some media company can’t read your blog and hire you. You clearly have expertise, a wide following, and you are a good writer. I hope you are picking up freelance writing gigs in the meantime.

  • It is still a bit unsettling to realize that for the first time since World War II, Canada’s unemployment rate has been lower than the USA’s for a while.

    Usually our unemployment rate tends to be higher, and the fact that the unemployment rates no longer track each other so precisely is indicative of some kind of fundamental change in the Canadian economy.

    One possibility is that the Auto Pact has since been dismantled, changing the nature of auto manufacturing in Ontario.

    Another is that Canada’s economy has always been a little unusual among the advanced nations; our resource extraction sector is large relative to the others, even the USA’s, and the oil price boom of the 2000s has only accentuated the resource-extraction bent of our economy. Demand for cars may boom and bust, but the world only ever needs more oil with each passing year.