Branson, Mo. — As middle management in a large chain, my job could have just as easily been toast with the rest of the economy. Since we are the biggest supplier of business supplies in town, such as paper, toner, and the like, we are have an extensive supply chain and get products all the time.
Branson always has business needs when telemarketers need toner, ticket offices need pens, and everyone needs computers so we are fulfilling a specific niche in a small city with a fast-growing population. It used to be our business slowed down in the winter when tourists didn’t show up as much. But much like professional sports in America where there is little to no offseason, Branson’s tune was picking up the pace when a collective marketing push was made to lure people to the music entertainment town 10 years ago.
Luckily my store manager knew how to cope with fewer hours for his workers. He was flexible as he could be. While not a perfect situation by any means he did the compassionate thing and offered us several choices. The first choice was to cut the hours we worked. Most of us agreed that reduced hours were better than no hours. If we didn’t like that then we could walk away from the job unscathed. He even gave us a written statement that if we quit our jobs now we would be the first considered back into the fold should the store start re-hiring.
Some of my co-workers quit to find jobs elsewhere. Most of us stayed, including me, but with reduced hours. Fewer hours meant that our work schedules got more and more flexible since we really weren’t needed in the store. That was when I decided to not only stay at home more to be with my children but also find work online.
In April of last year my wife and I agreed that even a little extra income would be nice. She could work more since she owned her own online business as long as I pick up the slack with her chores and stuff at home and with the kids. Fortunately for my family we are both college-educated and very adaptable.
After doing some research, I settled into doing something that I had been trained for in college. In addition to working my regular job I would also be writing online. Over a year later, I’m still doing both jobs rather successfully.
The beauty of online jobs is that some are very easy to get into if you already have a home computer. Some of the brick walls that I ran up against trying to find a writing job online were that some places looked for specific types of people to write for them. Luckily for my status in life, online writing outlets were looking for content writers in general and I believe it has been a good fit.
With my hours increasing at my office supply job thanks to the tourist season beginning I’ve been able to hire more people. I’ve even seen some of the old hires come back. The White House says that it’s good news that the unemployment rate has dipped. While I know that my situation was lucky I know that in other sectors it’s hard to fathom life getting better yet. My wife and I are currently talking about going back to my old job or expanding my online writing. We haven’t decided yet but I keep looking for opportunities.
When I think about jobs I am struck by one statistic that goes beyond the unemployment rate. Business Week reported that nearly three million jobs went unfilled last year because there weren’t enough trained people to fill them. Think about the paradigm shift that has to occur for Americans to get those jobs. Entire populations will have to be re-educated to fill the most important jobs in health care, education, and government.