Suddenly, the job interviews are materializing out of nowhere. I am no longer surprised when I receive a phone call or email asking me to interview for a position I can barely recall because I applied for it two or three months ago (which translates to 50 or 60 applications ago). This can only be a good sign; each job interview brings me one step closer to securing employment.
June 27, just over a week ago, marked the nine-month anniversary of my layoff. I received state unemployment insurance during the first six months that I was out of work. As Congress (the House of Representatives, to be specific) continues to refuse to extend federal unemployment benefits, I have been without income for three months now.
Meanwhile, economic indicators are looking up here in the United States. Just this week, the Bureau of Labor Statistics at the U.S. Department of Labor reported that the unemployment rate has fallen to 6.1%, the lowest it has been since September, 2008. The good news is that 325,000 Americans found jobs in June. The bad news, however, is that 9.5 million of us are still out of work. And 315,000 of us filed new unemployment claims last week.
The U.S. economy expanded in June, adding 288,000 new jobs and sending the stock market through the roof. On Thursday, the Dow Jones Industrial Average topped 17,000 for the first time ever. While Wall Street is partying, however, there are those who inject a note of sanity into the situation by focusing on the storm clouds gathering on the horizon. Barron’s quotes MKM Partners chief market technician Jonathan Krinsky as recognizing the warning signs. This “kind of sector rotation generally is seen in late-cycle bull markets,” he stated. “The question is, how late in the cycle are we?” Like my grandniece’s tower of toys or giant soap bubbles, everything inevitably takes a tumble or pops when it gets big enough.
My mother, who invests in the stock market and follows it closely, reminded me on the phone about former Fed chairman Alan Greenspan’s warning regarding “irrational exuberance.” I get it, Mom. The stock market is cyclical. What goes up must come down.
So my mother says I had better find a job quickly, while there are still jobs to be had. Because once that bubble bursts, the jobs will all go skittering away into a recessionary rat hole, hiding from the light of day until the economic roller coaster begins its uphill ascent once again. We’ve been on the road a lot lately, so I think of those signs that warn “last chance for gas.”
Discussing this, my wife and I wonder what exactly we should be doing that we haven’t already done. I have now applied for 140 jobs in 26 states and the District of Columbia. I haven’t refused any work, nor have I refused any job interviews, even when I wanted to. True, I took a pass on going to Colorado for pre-employment testing because we couldn’t afford the trip. But I keep grinding out the job applications, writing insipid essays on improbable topics and getting dressed up to put on the smile and the handshake.
I hope that my current spate of interviews hits pay dirt while Wall Street is still flying high. Because if the market tanks, sending us into another recession, I honestly don’t know whether I will ever work again.
In this spirit, we spent most of the week on the road to allow me to interview for a job in northern Washington State, close to the Canadian border. We had planned on leaving at dawn, but that turned out to be the only day that an employer in southern California could reschedule a phone interview that it had already postponed once. Thus, it was past noon before we left. Here in northern California, it was 107°F; when we stopped for the night in Medford, Oregon, it was still 104°F.
Accordingly, you can imagine how much we appreciated the coolness that greeted us in northern Washington. We arrived on Wednesday evening to a cool breeze and a delightful temperature of 59°F. I tend to think of heat as an inevitable part of the summer months, but it is easy to forget that there are some parts of the country that enjoy a much more temperate climate.
What stood out most to us about Washington is how green it is up there. “The Evergreen State” is justly nicknamed, as I don’t believe I have ever seen so many spruce, pine and fir trees in one place. The beauty of such lush greenery defies description. In some respects, Washington seems the opposite of California, where severe drought has left us with a brown landscape and the dry brush finds us in constant danger of wildfires that threaten homes and lives. O carry me north to a forest of conifers!
Although the job for which I interviewed is more than 800 miles away from family in California, I would not hesitate to seize the opportunity to relocate to the cool beauty of Washington. This, I think, is my kind of place. I’m sure, however, that all the other applicants for this position feel the same way.
It took us forever to get home, as we struggled through one endless traffic jam after another. However, this did afford me the opportunity to take some photographs of Seattle. Enjoy!