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Poorly-paid neighbor

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I D Shukhov:
I noticed that a 50-something man across the street is working as a checkout person at a food store which I frequent.  The workers are unionized and the chain grocery store is owned by an international retailer.  Surely, I thought, he must be getting paid decently.

Nope.  I found out he makes $11 an hour  ($12 on weekends and holidays).  On July 1st, minimum wage goes up to $12.25/hour where I live.   2,000 hours x $12.25 is $24,500. 

Minimum wage is 1/2 the median earnings for a male, full-time worker, which is $49,660 (

He has an MS degree. I don't know what happened to him and I don't think I want to find out.

That is completely in line with what people make in that field.. did you expect 15/hour?
There is enough labor here to keep at 9/hour often enough.

The Gorn:
First of all, Unix is right. Labor rates are based on the market, not on what your position or experience in life was before you took the job.

To ID's points:

Of course, this man is at a low ebb in his life and career that most likely he won't ever escape from. And he has a master's degree.

You probably brought this up as a signpost or indicator that the labor market is so f***ed today that many capable professionals and older individuals simply cant' find suitable work. They have to settle for jobs that someone with no education and very low cognitive abilities can perform.

Maybe I am at even a lower rung than this guy, because I'm in that age bracket and I absolutely refuse to consider employment with dunces. So maybe I am cutting my nose off despite my own face.

Anyway -

Horror stories like this are constructive if they help you in that area of life somehow. We have no idea how this man got to this place in his life, what mistakes he made, what he did wrong, what he attempted and got shot down trying to accomplish. 

Since this guy is a cipher, all you're doing is posting a sob story of sorts that has no takeaways or warnings.

Given that a healthy vibrant economy should somehow provide near-suitable employment for someone with demonstrated competency, all we can do is hypothesize what could have lead him here:

- Disability with regard to attentional stuff - not being able to focus on high level tasks. (or other type of disability.)
- Washed out of IT due to age (the obvious issue for us on this board to discuss)
- Legal status (sexual offender, white collar crime, etc) - something that would cause rejection for professional employment.

Or kind of self created:

- Arrogant old fart who has high IQ tendencies, therefore he doesn't take new trends in his profession seriously. I read recently that the overly intelligent tend to race to conclusions and not factor in paradigm shifts.

- Lack of imagination and tunnel vision. The problem of most of us in this age group.

- Low self esteem.

- The unwillingness to just try something even though it seems unproductive.

- The unwillingness to learn.

- Willful lack of engagement, laziness and/or stupidity.

Supermarkets might not pay great, but they offer great benefits to make up for it.  I see older men and women working as check-out clerks at one of the supermarkets I frequent.  I once worked at a supermarket early in my life and you can get a lot of benefits from them even though the pay stinks.  You have to do what you have to do to support your life.

The job market is improving, but it doesn't mean that old people will get a slice of the pie.  We have to change this, I think.

What is his MSc in?   Is it related to technology or is it something else?

A base MSc in only useful right after you complete your degree.   You have to keep up to date with the latest information in whatever the degree specialty is.   You have to be able to show significant expertise that can only be gained through experience after the degree.   Otherwise, there is no reason to hire a more experience/more expensive person over a rookie.

And there is the attitude issue.   If the person has a defeatist attitude, they are finished.   You have to be positive and believe in yourself in order to keep active in whatever field you are in.   That could be the issue with your neighbor.


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