Friday, November 6, 2009

What the hell, France Telecom?

Here is a statistic from the employment wars for you to get your mind around:
24 France Telecom workers have commited suicide in the past year - more than one of them on the job.  One failed attempt occured during a meeting when an individual jumped the agenda in order to stab himself. 

The Wall Street Journal was quick to point out that 24 out of Telecom's 100,000 global employees is actually a lower suicide rate than France's national average (26 per 100,000).  This sentence stood out:  "The recent number is also in line with suicides at France Télécom over past decades."

According to our own Bureau of Labor, more than 2000 Americans committed suicide on the job during the 90s -- the nineties -- so I decided to drop my Holier than Vous attitude.  No one makes a Fact Sheet like Uncle Sam.

US Suicides on the job are up (to be counted on the fact sheet, you have do your deed in the workplace, though it is not clear whether it has to be on company time).  Paradoxically, "a person at work has a greater likelihood of being killed from homicide than from suicide, whereas in the general population the opposite is true."

There are a lot of stats to digest on the BFS site.  This page alone exhaustively (and readabily) explains our government's definition of "employed" and "unemployed."  With all the definitions and charts laid out before you, you can conclude that you are safer at home than at work where you are more likely to be murdered or to kill yourself.

You might also realize that Middle-aged white male executives are not really more likely to kill themselves; there just isn't anyone else in Management.

Unemployment, as we know, is up. 10% as of this writing, for the first time since 1983, which was where I came in. My timing has been uncanny: High School 82, unemployment explosion 1983. College 86, market crash 1987. Internet entry 2000, dot-bomb 2001. I figure if I join the Army right now, I could bring about an end to the war.

But what's this: Q3-2009 productivity was UP nearly 10%. It's not that there is no work. There is no money to pay you. Or that's the story, anyway. Never mind that in Manufacturing, productivity was up 13% while labor costs were down.

History may reveal that the situation is not as dire as we have come to believe. Like the beef shortage of the 1970s, the numbers suggest some contradictions. We may be making this up and not realizing it.  So put the letter opener down and walk away.

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