Friday, August 26, 2011

Claims about North Dakota
If you have a license and no criminal record, you can get a six-figure trucking job almost overnight.
The article is here, hat tip goes to Garett Jones on Twitter. If your response is: “How many of the unemployed could get work in North Dakota?” you have missed the point.

You can find some of the ads here, and more broadly here. My poking around showed that some of them start at 75k a year, though with raises for good performance. It is also required that you have no DUI convictions. The sense of community is strong and the State Capitol is an Art Deco masterpiece. You can get Canadian TV. What more could anyone want?
If you've ever met any actual truckers --as I have -- and heard their stories of sleeping in their trucks, hidden costs that strip their paychecks, etc., you'll know that it ain't that simple:
There’s been a lot of hype about jobs in the trucking industry lately, but it’s time for a reality check. In this economy, exaggerations about a so called “growing field” where there are ample, easy-to-land jobs with lucrative paychecks can cause hardships for people who are desperate for work...

The Bureau of Labor Statistics projects average growth rates for heavy and tractor-trailer truck drivers and below average increases for light or delivery services truck drivers through 2018. And even the industry’s trade group played down claims made by a host of media outlets in recent months that the industry has tons of jobs to fill.

“Today’s shortage is more of a quality than a quantity issue,” said Bob Costello, chief economist with the American Trucking Association. He said he recently talked to one of the association’s member who told him he has 100 jobs to fill, but 800 applications.
Don't tell most of the commenters at Cowen's blog, though. They mostly assume that able-bodied young bucks ain't going to North Dakota to get rich because they're shiftless., e.g.:
I think the point is that, even if North Dakota wouldn’t be a large-scale solution to national unemployment, the overwhelming lack of willingness of the unemployed to move to North Dakota tells us something about the nature of the unemployed in America. To me, it says that they’re not terribly motivated to find work, but I suppose there are other possible interpretations...

“Yes, labor migrates; no, labor does not migrate “easily”.” And my response to anyone who is unemployed and sucking at the government teat is “tough s*!t”. You do what you have to do to support yourself and your family...
(I should mention, though, that the comments include one of those rare instances of Matthew Yglesias being actually funny: "I think I may be missing the point here, so I hope Tyler will explain it to us.")

If we put as much effort into solving problems as we do into constructing alternate realities, imagine what we could accomplish.

UPDATE. Thanks, Vern Morrison, for spelling help. And to commenters, including KC45s -- "None of the ads promise a chimpanzee sidekick. Sorry, that's a deal breaker." I believe you mean an orangutan sidekick, KC45s. (Sub-update: Or not! wjts cites the historical record. I didn't realize helper monkeys had such a rich and varied history.)

Leonard Pierce has done some research on the subject (of the trucking business, not simian sidekicks) and lays out some of the hard facts of which Cowen and the Galtian Supermen are not in possession.

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