Friday, October 3, 2014

Job security after SHTF?

Hi Ferfal, I'm a big fan of yours, and have recommended your books to a lot of people.
I just took a pretty good job as an auditor with the electric and gas utility (privately owned, not government)about 100 miles north of NYC. Previously, I lived within 20 miles of NYC for my entire life, but it's easy to see what a powder keg that area will become if times get tough, so I made a move.  Can you tell me how stable a job like that proved to be in Argentina when TSHTF? Also, did government workers, who have a high level of perceived job security, actually fair well?
Since you have rated economic instability as the 2nd biggest problem behind security during TSHTF, I think it would be very valuable if you write another book, to provide more detail on common occupations (accountants, nurses, administrators, salespeople etc. etc.) and exactly how they faired in Argentina pre/post crisis. I know you did that in your first book, but it was a little brief.
You input would be greatly appreciated.

Hello Joe, thanks for your support, congratulations on the new job and I’m glad you like my work.
As I wrote in “The ModernSurvival Manual: Surviving the Economic Collapse”, the job situation gets pretty complicated for everyone when unemployment goes  +%25.
Pretty much everyone is at risk and no one has his job fully warrantied against termination.
As I explained in the book, there are some jobs that are more secure than others, but that still doesn’t mean you couldn’t end up facing serious problems eventually. Take police officers for example. You would think that in a country with such a serious crime problem, law enforcement would be a pretty safe income in spite of how dangerous it many be. Still, police officers have been struggling for years with very low wages and for all practical purposes many are forced to complement their salary with “tips” (bribes) to get by. Something similar happens with teachers and other public workers. They have a job, but condition and pay isnt that good, sometimes its not even enough to live.
As the public services and infrastructure fail, there’s more opportunities for private companies to fill in the gap and these hire people.
In the case of electric companies in Argentina, they have been known to cut costs because of the crisis, letting the grid deteriorate further. This led to rolling blackouts and transformers exploding in summer. The poor power grid situation is widely reported, but little is being done to update the deteriorated infrastructure. Even cell phone signal is rapidly deteriorating. Its already a common local joke to criticize and make fun of the poor signal people often receive.
Like I said in the chapter about employment, its not town blacksmith or ranch hand that are in high demand post economic collapse. The jobs that are in high demand and also happen to pay well at a certain level are marketing and sales. During tough times companies appreciate those that are gifted and manage to land sales.  With a lot of work, small companies do well and this is what many unemployed end up doing once they ran out of options. So as to reinforce your work position you must make yourself very important and valuable to the company. 
The more of a key person you are to the functioning of the company, the less likely you are to lose your job.
I do agree about NYC. I would try to avoid that city as much as possible. About “government workers, who have a high level of perceived job security” some are almost impossible to fire due to the Unions. In general, a desk job for the government, in one of the administrative buildings and halls tends to be pretty secure. The government rarely fires more people when unemployment is already bad.

1 comment:

Augustine said...

Having spent half of my adult life in hyperinflationary Brazil, I never really went without a job but once. Businesses were still conducted, though not as usual.

Then, the sector with most money was the government, which got to spend the freshly printed money first, before it was eaten away by inflation. Government and banking, which is the same thing.

However, since people still need to eat hot meals, the agricultural sector was still cranking meat and grain out and so was the energy sector, even if sputtering.

Also, those sectors supplying one or two steps down the chain from these three sectors kept a skeleton economy going.

B2B sales could also be a viable career, but not retail.

But, whatever the industry, the only certainty was that no job was certain. If one had skills that served the industries above, one might find employment more or less soon.

Forget the public sector. Since the people was living hand to mouth, taxes could not be raised without provoking riots. Taxing businesses could dismantle the remnant of an economy altogether. So basically public paras... servants would be offered bottom salaries in exchange for generous pensions, assuming that the fan would be rid of shite by then. Surely the positions were stable, or as stable as death is.

Of course, that was Brazil, a peripheral country, in another decade. When it hits the fan in central economies, like it's happening to Italy and France, soon the UK and Germany, eventually the US, the fan will be hit by a historically unprecedented truckload of manure. Then, past experience are barely useful, if at least an indication.