Unemployed? Don’t move here…

I just read this article – well – a pair of articles – over on MSN – about the 25 WORST cities for finding a job and the 25 BEST cities for finding a job.  Truly interesting stuff; however the methods used to create the article are – at best – flawed.  The flaw is that they only use the unemployment rates, as compiled and published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics – a federal agency that is responsible for researching and compiling labor economics and statistics…

The list of the bad cities includes quite a few cities located in California.  But if you were to look at the list – and if you’re not from California – you’ve probably NEVER heard of many (if ANY) of those cities.  Here’s the list:

1.    El Centro, Calif.       
2.    Yuma, Ariz.               
3.    Flint, Mich.               
4.    Merced, Calif.
5.    Yuba City, Calif.      
6.    Modesto, Calif.      
7.    Visalia, Calif.            
8.    Monroe, Mich.
9.    Palm Coast, Fla.      
10.  Stockton, Calif.         
11.  Fresno, Calif.             
12.  Bakersfield, Calif.
13.  Hanford, Calif.          
14.  Redding, Calif.          
15.  Muskegon, Mich.    
16.  Jackson, Mich.
17.  Rocky Mount, N.C.
18.  Saginaw, Mich.         
19.  Madera, Calif.           
20.  Detroit
21.  Elkhart, Ind.               
22.  Sebastian, Fla.          
23.  Kokomo, Ind.            
24.  Rockford, Ill.
25.  Niles, Mich.

11 of them are from California.  But, of those 11 – only one is NOT located in the Central Valley area of California.  And the biggest (and almost only!) jobs in most of those cities are related to farming and agriculture.  And some of them are downright tiny cities.  And they’re surrounded by miles and miles and miles of … well … nothing. 

Most of the cities listed that are in the mid-western areas of the US – like Indiana, Michigan, Illinois – are areas that have industries tied deeply to automotive industries and – an even more beleaguered segment – RV manufacturing.

Let’s face it – political statements aside – the economy sucks all over…!

Now the 25 “good cities” many tend to be … well, mid-west centered, too.

1.   Sioux Falls, S.D.           
2.   Idaho Falls, Idaho       
3.   Rapid City, S.D.            
4.   Bismarck, N.D.
5.   Houma, La.                    
6.   Morgantown, W.Va. 
7.   Logan, Utah                  
8.   Fargo, N.D.
9.   Casper, Wyo.               
10. Billings, Mont.           
11. Lafayette, La.             
12. Ames, Iowa
13. Midland, Texas 
14. Iowa City, Iowa         
15. Lincoln, Neb.              
16. Great Falls, Mont.
17. Charlestown, W.Va.
18. Des Moines, Iowa   
19. Portsmouth, N.H.    
20. Missoula, Mont.
21. Salt Lake City              
22. Provo, Utah                
23. Sioux City, Iowa        
24. Odessa, Texas
25. Pocatello, Idaho

Sure, there are a few standouts in the North East and the South, but many of them are solidly Mid-West cities.  Of course, they’re also cities that, if you research them more, you’ll find they’re pretty stable cities with no great industrial claims.

Truly, outside of a religion, what does Salt Lake City hold a claim to – industry wise …?  And Casper, Wyoming and Billings, Montana – what’s going on there?  Besides being near major National Recreation areas, what industry calls those cities home?  And, as for Texas, Midland and Odessa are right next to each other (geographically speaking) and so the “gains” in one will be similar to the gains in the other.  But again, what’s their industrial base…?  Where are those job gains…?

But even then, the growth isn’t anything … huge.  Not anything like the high unemployment numbers for the California and Michigan cities.

But, again, the basic study – the reasons behind the articles – is flawed.  It gives a decidedly myopic view of things… And an exceptionally dire one, at that!

Why?  Well, it’s because they’re only looking at one single point of data – the unemployment rate.  That’s it.  Nothing about the industry that supports the area, the number of residents that do not work anyway (i.e. retirees, stay at home parents, whatever).  They don’t look at the kinds of jobs in the area – from flipping burgers at Burger King, Carl’s Jr. or McDonalds to legal secretaries, doctors, nurses and other types of “skilled labor”…

Take a look at St. Louis, for example.  They’ve got a lot of industries there – from auto manufacturing to hospitals to finance…  They’re all over.  But what does Ames, Iowa offer in the way of industry…?  What kind of jobs are even available in Ames…?  Do you think that there is a lot of call in Ames for an EDI manager…?  Or some other kind of IT position…?

That same flaw – the single source of data and the single point of data being used – can also be a major flaw in our EDI system and what we do with those documents.   What good is an EDI system that only processes a single document for a single department for a single trading partner…?  How does that improve your supply chain or your business…?

Opening up your focus – whether by the data you want to trade or by the “who” you want to trade with – can make your EDI world that much better.  That much more … well … impactful and worthwhile… leaving your EDI program just focused on one thing does not make it very useful information.

It’s like the articles I reference above – how valid is that information to you if you want to move to Sioux Falls, South Dakota and – while there is low unemployment and some growth in their job market – there is not a job for you to take…?  If you’ve achieved your MSCSE certificate, but there are no jobs for people with your abilities and qualifications, of what value is the fact that Sioux City has low unemployment..?

Or – on the flip side – you’re moving to Bakersfield or Fresno to take care of an ailing family member – but you’ve already got a job lined up – in your field of expertise – so the high rate of unemployment doesn’t matter to you.

Job futures – and EDI – need to be … far ranging and “big picture” – taking into account a lot of smaller details.  It can’t just be focused on one little fact or figure.

There’s that big retailer – WhoM shall remain nameless  – that is always the Target of the wrath and ire of many an EDI “guy”.  Those that deal with that big retailer (or the other one) know that they seem to be “our way or the highway” kind of mentality.  Do it our way or we’re not doing business with you.  It’s a very limited eye view of EDI.  It doesn’t allow for any deviation or options.  It’s this or nothing.  It’s one sides and just one point of reference.  It’s very limiting.

Now, in some ways, that limited versatility may be good – in that there’s not a lot of “extra stuff” to worry about.  Just like the one point of reference in the jobless rates in those cities – not a lot to worry about.  There aren’t many (any?) jobs, so don’t go there.

But isn’t it better when you have more to work on than just one number; or one point of view or one way of thinking…?  Where’s the value then?

Author: Craig Dunham – EDI Coordinator

Read more about Craig here: http://editalk.com/contributors/

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