Sure you can get another job, if you don't mind low pay and no benefits

At least that's what business writer Steven Greenhouse writes in Wednesday's New York Times. While 4.8 million people left their jobs in February, employers hired 4.3 million people that same month, and there are still millions of job openings out there.

So who's hiring? Hospitals, colleges, discount stores, restaurants and municipal public works departments. After the stimulus package kicks in, state and local governments and road-building contractors are expected to hire more. Now that's good news, but unfortunately most of the companies Greenhouse cites work in the "service" economy, typically known for minimum-wage jobs, few job benefits and murky opportunities for moving into upward management.

Oh sure, IBM is mentioned as hiring, but the other companies are the Fairway supermarket chain in the Tri-State area, Culver's hamburger restaurant in Surprise, AZ and inevitably Wal-Mart, not historically known as a place employees can thrive at. They're great if you love handling food and boxed merchandise, but where are the jobs where you can actually make something for a living, and earn a decent wage doing it?

As the auto industry goes down in flames, there doesn't seem to be an upswing of U.S.-based manufacturing anywhere else to take its place. As for medical careers, it would be great to get more nurses and medical staff out there, but when the colleges training them are facing budget cuts and class limits, that's a big bottleneck. It seems the days of plentiful, steady, and good-paying jobs are over, and we're entering the "Gig Economy."

Still, when there are four people applying for every one job out there, it's a good idea to appreciate whatever you can get right now. Eddie Hamm, a former construction worker earning $15 an hour who is now the "fry guy" at Culver's, has the right attitude. "I'm just happy I got hired...I don't look at it like I'm making $7.50. I'm having a job in a down time, and it's a job where I can move up."
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