Low wage jobs versus unemployment


So I read an article this morning that truly hit home for me. I have an interview tomorrow for a job that I do not want, that I am WAY overqualified for , and that is only a contract position (6 months) because the government isn’t hiring permanent employees right now and I can’t get any private sector jobs to respond to my resume. Basically, I will be taking the exact same job that I had when I left to complete my degree with the same exact pay, and without the security of having a full time permanent position. Basically, accruing student loan debt, and finishing my degree was completely useless – in fact, it has hurt me more than it helped me.

The article: Why College graduates are increasingly working minimum wage jobs points out that as our economy struggles to come back to life, the jobs that are being added each month are low wage positions. The problem is that for those of us who complete a college education; the age old problem of not being able to find work is exacerbated by a struggling economy.

Now I am an older college graduate and I had no grand notions of a six figure salary once I completed my education. I am deeply rooted in reality, and am quite capable of taking an entry level position even though I now hold a master’s degree. All I want is a position somewhere that will allow me to move up from entry level to mid-career or professional in a reasonable amount of time. That shouldn’t be an unrealistic goal, but in today’s economy expecting anything other than a job at McDonald’s seems unrealistic and getting them to call you back once you have a degree is pointless because they can pay the HS kid less. So when college graduates are competing for the same jobs as non-educated people – we have a serious problem.

I honestly don’t know what the solution could be. I can’t force a company to hire me, or pay me a decent wage. I have to do the work to find a place to work that will meet my personal needs. I am just having no luck with that at the moment; so when a staffing agency called and basically handed me a secretary job (equivalent to a GS-5 government position) I am going to just go ahead and take it. I have no other options. I have bills to pay. I have to start paying my student loans in two months or default. I no longer have the option to be picky, or even find a position that matches my skills. I am going to go and be miserable and bored to death, just like I was before I spent 50k on my bachelors and masters degrees. More debt, more education, and no work available to meet the needs or expectations of either.

I was a GS-5 secretary with the IRS in 2011 (permanent). I will now be a GS-5 secretary with the Medicaid and Medicare Office as a contract position (6 months). Same job, same pay, same agency (government) – only now I am smarter (lol) and have more bills to pay. Bottom line – it sucks. I am not only greatly disappointed, but I am quite honestly pissed off. What can I do though? It is what it is, and I have to make a living even if it means that I wasted a lot of time, energy and money to obtain my higher education that employers kept telling me they wanted in order for me to succeed.

I honestly don’t need much to survive. Technically  if each of the followers of this blog were to give me one dollar a week for being able to entertain themselves with my writing ($4 a month). I could easily pay my bills and even take a vacation someday. Of course I can’t force anyone, and I honestly do it because I love doing it, but the fact remains that there is something I do that could provide the income I need without subjecting myself to the humiliation of resorting to the exact same job I left 2 years ago.

It is just frustrating for me that I can’t find anything to do that will pay my bills and not sap all of the energy and happiness from me at the same time. Hell, I would be happy for even another low wage position that isn’t a secretary – I hate being a secretary, the problem is that I am really good at it and every manager or corporate leader wants their own personal slave to answer the phones, take care of travel arrangements and to ensure the office has enough pens. It’s insulting to go back to that; but it is a job that will pay me money regardless of my personal satisfaction in doing it and as it stands right now, I am left with no other choice. My education did not in fact expand my opportunities like it was supposed to. In reality, it limited them – and that makes me a little angry.


10 thoughts on “Low wage jobs versus unemployment

  1. I totally get this…I am basically in the same situation…I took a jiob from a temp agency know ing it would end in 3 months so I could pay some bills…now when I go for interviews, employers as why I took such a menial job>…I explained “umm…I need gas money and to eat”…it’s rough out there.

    • Yupper! That’s about it. I know I am not the only one dealing with this right now. I just find it amazing that employers think that a lapse in employment (to go to school) is bad, or why talking a position below your ‘status’ is bad considering there is no long term work out there. The other thing that is annoying is now employers look at credit scores and mine has gone from really okay to super crap in the last 4 months. *sigh*

  2. Easier to find a job when you already have one then it is without one. Use your position to network with others and continue to look for better employment. I’ll bet you find a job you will like within 6 months.

    • Mike, Thank you. I will obviously keep looking. Today was just a bad day. Realizing that this job is on the same street as my old one, and knowing that it is the same job with the same pay, well it was just a little soul crushing to realize that it is my only option. I don’t even get to work in a different part of the city! :/

  3. I agree with Mike. If you put yourself out there and do a good job, others will notice. There is no shame in taking a job to pay the bills. I have worked at many job I did not like just in order to make money and I always put my best foot forward. Going into a new job with such a negative attitude is not going to make it any better for you or for those you work with.

    • Shero, they will never know how I feel about this job unless they read this blog. I am not ungrateful, nor am I negative about the job itself, and I have ALWAYS had to take what was offered to me to make ends meet. I spent a ton of money on my education and I was under the impression that I would have more flexibility and better opportunities with an education and THAT is the disappointing part. Not to mention that this particular job out of any job I could have been offered, it the biggest reminder to me that education doesn’t matter right now. Maybe in a few years when/if the economy improves…

  4. I’m sorry your continued education hasn’t panned out for you. I agree with Mike as well. Take the job and network! By the way, I am a HS grad working for a state government as an admin asst. I get involved in committees and work groups to keep things interesting. It’s not a high-level job and with our Tea Party governor, my paycheck has taken a hit, but I still love it. I hope you eventually find a job that you love just as much.

    • Bikerchick, I enjoy being the admin person to some extent. It is just that is what I have always done, and I went to school to change that. I wish networking worked in Gov position like they do in non-gov positions. There is no real networking to be done, I tried that two years ago when I worked for the IRS and took a low paying job to “get my foot in the door” and turns our my foot was the doorstop. 🙂 Again I am not begrudging being offered a job even if it’s not the one I want, I am begrudging the economy and the lie that said that if I got my education I would have the opportunity to do better.

  5. It’s sad that we can’t afford to be picky when it comes to jobs when we have a bachelors and/or a master’s degree. I thought that getting these degrees mean that we SHOULD be able to be picky/ that it would differentiate us from others who don’t.

    But really, it is the best time to network now. Maybe someone who you help staff (uh, is that what staffing agencies do?) can help you out down the line or something 🙂

    • Thanks for reading my angst and commenting! I am still trying to figure out the rules of staffing agencies. They just fill contracts I guess. They are different from temp agencies though, I have at least learned that much! No networking is bad networking!

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