Unemployed Hit the Road to Find Jobs, but Digital Footprints still follow
Unemployed Hit the Road to Find Jobs
LINCOLN, N.H. -- After seven months without a paycheck, Tim Ryan turned into a werewolf.
Laid off from a construction job, Mr. Ryan finally found work last month playing the wolfman at Clark's Trading Post, a tourist attraction in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. For $12 an hour, about half what he made before, he dons furry rags, a coonskin cap and an eye patch and jumps out of the woods when the Trading Post's steam train chugs by, snarling and growling at passengers.
The job is nearly two hours north of his home in Pittsfield, N.H., too far to commute. So Mr. Ryan sleeps in an old, mold-ridden cottage with no running water that someone lets him use free. "These days, you have to do things you never thought you would," says the 52-year-old. "You have to go to extremes."
With the unemployment rate at 9.4%, some Americans are willing to go wherever they can to nab a job, even if it is temporary. To adapt, they find living quarters near the job in campers or cheap apartments, giving up normal family life for a paycheck, in a contemporary echo of the itinerants who roamed the country for work in the Great Depression.
Evidence of this labor trend is mostly anecdotal. In Linden, Tenn., where more than 300 people lost their jobs when an auto-parts plant closed in September, at least 20 now work three hours away in Paducah, Ky., manning tugboats on the Tennessee River, says John Carroll, the mayor of Perry County, Tenn. While there, they sleep on the tugboats. The unemployment rate in their home county is 22%.
In Detroit, where layoffs have hit about half of the 5,000 members of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 58, a union official says he has a list of 2,200 members who are willing to travel for work, up from 1,400 last year. "We have guys all over the country: California, Chattanooga, West Virginia, Las Vegas," says Bob Hines, the local's assistant business manager.
A provider of corporate temporary housing, Oakwood Worldwide, has seen a 6% rise this year in rentals of furnished apartments, which it attributes to more people taking temporary jobs away from home.
And ITT Corp. says it relocated more new hires in 2008 than ever before -- 13%, versus a typical 3%. Many employees are moving just themselves, keeping their families and their homes in a different state, says ITT's director of human resources, Lisa Simeon.
You do what you have to do to make a living, but here's one important thing to keep in mind when you move. While your previous reputation by work of mouth in your former hometown probably won't follow you around, your digital footprints on the internet will, wherever you go.
And if you have digital footprints like Steve Sailer, you might as well save all your time and money from moving, when your potential hiring employer finds your digital footprints and reject or fire you. Even minimum wage jobs are doing background checks and examining digital footprints.
So watch out for your digital footprints, because if you have footprints like Steve Sailer, you won't have the opportunity to travel to find a job. Your options will be very limited, such as a homeless shelter, under a bridge, prison, or suicide.