Ghost Jobs: An Economic Illusion That Harms the Unemployed

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by Daisy Luther, The Organic Prepper:

Are you trying to better yourself by finding a new job?  We keep hearing about record-low unemployment. This would make one think that there are job openings all over the place.  Have you been diligently looking through online job postings and filling out applications, only to hear nothing?  You might be chasing after ghost jobs.

“Ghost job” refers to online job postings that are seemingly never filled.

Why on earth would companies do this?  Why let people chase jobs that don’t exist?

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A closer look at ghost jobs

Let’s look at why so many ghost jobs are out there, why mainstream media is reporting on the economy in the way it is, and what steps individual job-seekers can take.

Clarify Capital conducted a survey of 1045 managers involved in hiring between August 31 and September 1, 2022.  They asked managers why they left job postings online even though they were not actively trying to fill those positions.  The answers?

  • 50% reported that the company is always open to new people.
  • 43% wanted to keep employees motivated
  • 43% to give the impression that company is growing
  • 39% the job was filled
  • 37% to keep an active pool of active applicants in case of turnover
  • 35% in case an irresistible candidate applies
  • 34% to placate overworked employees
  • 27% forgot to delete the job
  • 33% no reason in particular

Disorganization within large companies can lead to incorrect job postings as well, according to a March 20, 2023, article in the Wall Street Journal.  Many large companies have been going through rounds of layoffs and restructuring, and departments may post job openings redundantly or for jobs that haven’t been approved at other levels within the company.

This sounds like a fairly toxic situation between employers, employees, and potential employees.  If our unemployment rate is so low, we shouldn’t have so many people in employment limbo.

What’s actually going on here?

As explained by Heresy Financial, there are two sets of data used to calculate employment rates, the establishment survey and the household survey.

According to the establishment survey, the current unemployment rate is 3.4%, the lowest in history since 1969.  This is calculated by asking companies how many employees they have.  The big gap in establishment survey data is that it does not account for people working multiple jobs.  If one person is working days at McDonald’s and nights at an Amazon warehouse, two separate jobs are considered filled, even though one person is filling both.

Household surveys are conducted by asking individuals where they work.  This is more accurate in that it accounts for people working multiple jobs, which is common at the lower end of the socioeconomic spectrum.  When you consider how many people work multiple jobs, it reveals a more accurate picture of how many people are not actually working at all.

Once seen as a fool-proof field, tech companies have been making large rounds of layoffs. Looking at skilled vs. unskilled jobs in the Heresy Financial video, we see that the jobs most in demand are the ones that do not require a college degree.  Those with a college degree, expecting a more highly skilled job, are finding fewer job opportunities.

Nobody wants to admit they’ve ruined the economy.

I’ve got a bunch of teenagers at home.  They’re still being told that college is the way forward in life, but this does not seem as true as it was 30 years ago.  Why the deception?  Why would mainstream media push the narrative that the economy is booming and that if you just go to college, you’ll find a good job?

First of all, no politicians want to admit they’ve ruined the economy.  Much as I’d like to blame Biden for everything, fudging jobs data to make it look like a higher percentage of the population is employed has been going on for a while.  This isn’t partisan. It’s just politicians being politicians.

More significantly, the U.S. has held status as the world’s reserve currency for almost eighty years now.  This comes with all kinds of advantages, such as ease in foreign transactions and the ability to impose punishing sanctions.

However, this reserve currency status has been based on a level of trust with the rest of the world. Everyone agrees to accept our money largely because, particularly after World War II, we had such a stable, transparent economy compared to almost everyone else.  Politicians know that a lot of perks come with being the biggest and wealthiest, and they want to continue to present America to the world in that way.

There there’s the AI effect.

Perhaps most significantly, the emerging use of AI has brought a great deal of chaos and uncertainty to the job market.  It’s highly likely that politicians and large employers alike would prefer to keep quiet about how much disruption will occur due to this new technology.

Many companies now use AI to process job applications. (We told you it was going to be everywhere.)  Large companies routinely use AI to filter applicants, even though algorithms are known to filter out qualified employees.  Despite known issues, AI is so much cheaper this problem will not go away any time soon.

Worse, the advent of AI has made companies unwilling to invest in new employees if they think they will be able to buy software soon that will be able to perform the same function.

This is not widely discussed due to fears of social disruption.  You may not remember learning about the Luddites in history, but I can guarantee you the people in charge do.

The Luddites were a group led by Ned Ludd, a displaced artisanal weaver, back in the nineteenth century at the beginning of industrial cloth production.  Ned Ludd led other displaced workers on a rampage of property destruction throughout England before being brutally suppressed. (source)

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