Job security — it’s the one thing that everyone wants, but is fairly hard to get. The fact is, our jobs are under constant threat from a variety of sources, and as time marches on, American workers have more and more to worry about. As technology becomes more fine-tuned and widespread, and the hidden hand of the market reshuffles the deck in a post-globalization economy, wondering if you’ll still have a job next year is a serious concern for millions of people.
The sad fact of the matter is that nobody really has job security. Even high-earning CEOs are under insane scrutiny and constant pressure, though most have some savings to fall back on. But for middle class workers? The thought of losing your job and your livelihood is pretty scary.
That’s especially true after witnessing what happened during the Great Recession — which ended a full six, nearly seven years ago, though some people are still trying to regain their footing.
Since just thinking about it is enough to give plenty of people an anxiety attack, here are seven of the most prominent and tangible threats to many American jobs. Not everyone will be under threat from these, but each and every one does present some real economic issues. Some are, sadly, inevitable — while others could be taken care of tomorrow, if we worked toward it.
But without further ado, here are seven huge threats to American jobs and workers.
You may not get fired as a result of this — you may not even get the job in the first place. And that’s a big problem for people who are trying to get back into the labor force.
You may have heard about President Obama’s recent plan to ‘ban the box‘ on federal job applications, referring to the prohibition of questioning job applicants about their criminal history. This has been a big problem for those with convictions on their record (no matter how serious) to find and keep jobs. But that’s not the only thing that may keep you from getting a foot in the door. Diversity initiatives, for example, may end up hurting your chances as well, depending on your individual status since they’ve been found to backfire in certain cases.
2. Artificial intelligence
Get ready to hear about automation and artificial intelligence, and in particular, how they present a serious threat to the employment of millions. And it’s not a joke – some studies have claimed that as many as half of America’s jobs could disappear in the near future. It’s definitely something to take seriously.
Though not everyone will find themselves unemployed once we hand over the keys to the economy to A.I.s, a lot of people will. Cars will soon be autonomous, factories and warehouses are already being run without human supervision — and that’s just the beginning.
If you work for a publicly traded company, as millions of people do, you’re at the mercy of the owners of that company — the shareholders. The investors and owners of your company expect to see a return, and expect to see growth every quarter, every year. Those are high expectations, and when costs need to be cut, employees are often one of the first expenses on the chopping block. The best way to avoid getting a pink slip the next time profits don’t exceed projections? Make yourself indispensable.
Immigration is a positive thing, let’s get that out of the way right now. In fact, America’s continued growth and economic prosperity will depend on it. But more people means more competition (and more opportunity). For some people — mostly at the bottom of the economic ladder — it may end up meaning that they could be replaced. This, of course, mostly concerns unskilled labor positions.
But we’re seeing some of it happen higher up the chain as well. Big tech companies, for example, have been hiring many people from overseas on an increasing basis, claiming that American workers lack the skills needed to fulfill certain job openings. Agree or disagree, it’s still happening, and could be of concern for some workers.
5. Background/credit checks
Needless background and credit checks are costing people jobs — we know that for sure. In fact, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau recently came down on some background check providers for cutting corners and providing bad data, which led to many people missing out on opportunities.
Credit checks are also a fruitless endeavor, choking up the hiring systems and leaving many otherwise qualified applicants on the outside looking in. If you have bad credit, you’ll need to do what you can to mend it, as it may end up hurting you on the job-hunting trail.
Globalization has led to the outsourcing of many jobs, and it’s likely to continue as developing nations and overseas economies grow in stature and ability. People around the world are becoming better educated and more skilled, and are also willing to work for lower wages — which is bad news for American workers. Typically, we think of manufacturing jobs being outsourced. But over the years, that has spilled over into other industries as well, including technology.
7. Economic downturns
It’s a part of the business cycle, and there is really no way to avoid it. Economic downturns, or recessions, are going to happen, and there’s not much anyone can do about it. When recessions do occur, it usually leads to some cost-cutting measures by firms, and that typically includes layoffs. The best thing you can do is to be prepared by having some savings in place, and by making yourself as valuable to your company as possible. It may not save you in the end, but you’ll be in a much better place than many others.