“Jobs at a Crossroads: Hiring Up, Pay Flat” read the headline from last Thursday’s front page of The Wall Street Journal.
The article about the new jobs report began, “The U.S. job market sits at a crossroads six years into a fitful economic expansion: Hiring is strong, but weak wage growth has failed to pull millions of would-be workers off the sidelines, while prompting others to drop out of the labor force.”
The Money magazine headline read “Unemployment falls to lowest level in 7 years,” and then asked this important question: “Where’s the wage growth?”
- Average hourly earnings rose only 2% annually in June — still far below the goal for a healthy economy of 3.5% or more.
Looking at the actual Bureau of Labor Statistics report for June 2015, things look positive on page one.
- Total nonfarm payroll employment increased by 223,000, and the unemployment rate declined to 5.3%.
Page two noted negative news.
- The civilian labor force declined by 432,000. The labor force participation rate declined by 0.3 percentage point to 62.6%.
- There were 653,000 discouraged workers, that is, persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.
The Great Recession of 2007-2009 is still grumbling and definitely messy. The facts seem to differ with each other, making it harder to know the truth. Most of us like answers that are short and conclude with either it is good or bad. When we ask the next question for clarification, we often hear: “It’s complicated.”
Facts and Truth
Well, the facts are that the truth is sometimes complicated. Our hunger for sound-bite journalism requires quick communication simply served and easy to digest. Like processed and preserved fast food, we want news on the fly that makes us feel full, but leaves empty of nutrients.
The trouble starts when we make decisions based on incomplete and/or incorrect information. One of my past client CEOs once said out of pure frustration and curled lips, “I can make good decisions, if I could only get my hands on good information!”
Part of the problem is biased sources. The government wants news to be favorable. Businesses promote features and benefits. Everyone has a point of view, and it is near impossible to keep it from shining through.
Mark Twain, who began his career as newspaper journalist Samuel Clemens, was quoted as saying “Get your facts first, then you can distort them as you please.” One of my accountant friends once told me years ago that “if you torture the numbers long enough, they will tell you whatever you want to hear.”
Jobs and Jesus
More than a few pastors and ministry leaders have speculated with me about the waning need for career ministry, because the unemployment rate decreased. Let me suggest that it’s more complicated than that.
It is difficult to understand the facts and discern the truth about the continuing effects of the Great Recession in light of the Great Commandments and the Great Commission. Even as I try my best to share about equipping the Church to help people find jobs, careers and God’s calling, it is difficult to report the facts without “the spin.”
Let me confess my biased point of view that the #1 Person everyone needs is Jesus. According to 10 years of research findings from the Gallup World Poll, what everyone wants in the whole world is a good job.
Since we are all God’s workmanship to be created in Christ Jesus for good works, I think there is a direct connection between jobs and Jesus. Whether your church or ministry focus is evangelism, discipleship or care, work-life ministering opens the door to relevant relationships that can bring all of us to our knees before God.
The Church at Work
If you are a pastor or ministry leader, please consider the need and opportunity to start and grow ministering efforts to reach and renew people who are at crossroads in their careers. Here is just one example from an email received yesterday from a church member who was seeking to change jobs and his career.
“Been a long time since I updated you on the job situation. I made the job change. The backstory is that through hunting job postings and attending a continuing education class, I was able to score a few job interviews in the area. Because of the course you offer, the training I gained allowed me to proceed with direction instead of winging it.
I had a good resume. Before each interview I followed the guide so that I was prepared and could interact with confidence. During the interview the person made a comment about my preparation, which was encouraging to hear. I was able to navigate the offer after the interview as well.
Your guide was priceless and the time spent in the meetings with you was immeasurably helpful. Thanks again!”
Career ministry blends job search and career development with hearing and following God’s calling. It integrates practical facts with Biblical truth. No one I know walks their career path and crossroads perfectly, but over time and through trials, we all have the opportunity of being perfected one step at a time.
Would you tell me what you think? If anything in this article hit you, please let me know. Is it fact, fiction, faith or truth? Please reply with a comment or question below.
Brian, I just referred a past co-worker to Crossroads’ website and encouraged my sister in Kentucky to take the online course. The information is transformational and I’m prayerful other churches will see the need and minister in this practical way.
Great analysis Brian. You’ve put the nail on the head in terms of the truth about jobs. I think many jobseekers took jobs so they could have a paycheck not because the job was a good fit and certainly not something that God was calling them to do. That’s where our career ministry’s come in – there is still a need now and will be in the foreseeable future.
I share your bias wholeheartedly: “Let me confess my biased point of view that the #1 Person everyone needs is Jesus. “
It’s complicated… The funny thing about statistics is that even if they are accurate they can sway the masses to look at the numbers forget about the people. We can think. “Hey we are doing pretty good here for the most part” and go on without noticing the ones who are making up the unemployed and never even notice the ones that are the disengaged or mis employed.
Career ministry puts faces to the people and gives them an education founded in mercy and patience which can be missed in government programs. It allows the church to be a voice and an ear to the individuals who are facing a crossroads in their career.