The U.S. Department of Labor says there were 2.5 million job openings available across the country on the last day of April. That sounds pretty good. That’s a lot of jobs, right?
Actually, no. That’s the lowest number of job openings since the Labor Department began keeping track of this statistic in 2000.
Add this dismal figure to the nation’s unemployment rate, which is now higher than 9 percent, and you can understand why people are so eager to hang onto the jobs they do have.
But is there a limit? What has to happen at your job to chase you away?
I wonder about this as I look at my own work situation and those of my friends. It seems that everyone I know who does still have a job is working harder at it than ever. They’re taking on extra assignments, more duties and additional overtime. And they’re doing it all without extra pay.
It’s hard to ask for a few extra dollars when the cubicles surrounding you are empty.
I edit a trade magazine in Chicago. Earlier this year, in a round of layoffs, I lost my staff writer. Now I write and edit the magazine myself. Last month, my bosses asked me to start editing a second trade magazine at the company. The latest request is for me to start a blog for the company.
It’s a lot of work. And the raise that comes with it? Exactly zero dollars.
I’m far from alone. A friend of mine is now doing the work of three employees at his accounting firm. Another friend, who works in the banking industry, has been schlepping into the office on Saturdays for the last three months. There’s a big project due, and the skeleton staff left in his division can’t get the work done during weekday hours.
My question, then, is this: When does it get to be too much? When do you have to say “no” to your boss?
There’s only so much work we can all take on, right? Or has the fear of high unemployment and a low number of job openings kept you from reaching your breaking point?