“We are talking about jobs that pay $12 an hour. These are people without hope”

Dr. Gary North wrote an article recently on the Amazon hirings across the country.  I saw a few ads for Amazon’s hiring in their new warehouse in El Monte, a city not too far from my home here in Southern California.  The ad advertized jobs for $12/hour.  Not great wages, but at least I’d be working for Amazon, right?  Well, right, but not such a big deal. If you’re the kind of job-seeker who believes a big name on a resume guarantees you future work everywhere, guess again.  I am, er, was of that opinion.  It just doesn’t work that way.

But there was something that Dr. North pointed out that I thought was terrific, or at least helpful to me.  Okay, so Amazon offered 50,000 jobs to job-seekers at 10 different warehouses across the county.  Dr. North says “They came.  By the thousands, they came.”  I can believe it.  Jobs for many appear tight.

North then pointed out what these applicants were pursuing, “They were after jobs that pay $12 an hour. This is $3 an hour below the minimum wage of Seattle.

Here is the report for Thursday, August 3.

“A record-breaking 20,000 applications were received on this day alone with thousands of job offers extended to candidates and more to come in the next few days,” Amazon vice president of human resources John Olsen said in a statement. “We continue to process candidates at events across the country and expect that to continue over the coming days. We’re excited to welcome these new employees to the Amazon team.”

The Robbinsville, New Jersey, warehouse alone had 1,500 jobs up for grabs, according to local news outlet NJ.com. When we stopped by, we watched as hundreds of people turned out to try to snag a role.

So lots of job-seekers across the country, folks of varying age seeking $12/hour jobs. Nothing wrong with that, right?  One should not despise work that provides real value, right?  But then Dr. North nails it,

Here is what one manager said: “We’re looking for people with a great attitude first and foremost, who are obsessed with customers—that is the most important thing to Amazon—and who are looking forward to being a part of the team.” This is great rhetoric, but we are talking about jobs that pay $12 an hour. These are people without hope. Let’s not kid ourselves. Anybody who takes a job that pays $12 an hour is desperate. There isn’t anything else available.

I can’t tell you how many times that I’ve been willing, nay, actively seeking low-paying jobs, like this $12/hour job.  It means that I am seeking low-level customers, customers with low-level expectations.  And who are the customers?  Amazon managers who can get hundreds of applicants in one day to interact with computerized sorters.

Dr. North gets it.  “These people are without hope.”  Here he’s not just talking about the economy at large but about a person’s prospects when weighing the opportunities in their own trade.  So don’t settle.

Vacation to Seattle, if you must, but don’t settle.