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It is better
to not be on
the web than
to be on and
not know why

John Sumser

is more
it seems.
John Gall


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(December  3, 2002) Most of the people who read this newsletter are occupants (and usually success stories) in the office economy. College-educated (or rambunctious enough to pass), literate, interested in change, focused on the improvement of personal productivity and all of the other things we pat ourselves on the backs for. Generally, the people who read this newsletter are well above the median national income (nearly $42K for an American household).

The office economy is like that. Somehow, we've ended up in an eternal maze of beige look-alike cubicles, talking on the phone, writing reports, noodling spreadsheets and going to meetings to talk about our progress on our goals. We try not to think about just how much better the life is, after all the environment is pretty dehumanizing. But, the office economy and its imitators can be found in settings ranging from small start-up tech firms to large philanthropic entities. From magazine publishers to electronic design firms, being able to tell the difference is a question of understanding the local dialect. All Recruiters live in the office economy. All of the vendors who serve recruiters live there too. 

The next big challenge we face is blue collar and local. As good as it gets at Starbucks, Wal-Mart or the local tire store, it's never the office economy, the pay never gets over $30K and the very meaning of a job is far more mercenary than even the IT contractors think is normal. 

No one is sure how far the Internet reaches into this territory. At $25K, a computer is likely to be a gift from the family and $20/month for connectivity is an expense reserved fro the time that the kids really need it. And, for that matter, no one who makes $25K thinks of that way. $12.50 and hour is what they think; nearly 21 cents a minute.

That means that none of us have 'dirt under the fingernails' experience in the next market. Even though we don't understand it, that's where the next shortages will appear. In spite of the fact that we have no clue (except, perhaps, formative experiences) about life and meaning below the median income level, we're going to have to figure it out.

The jobs below median income levels include most clerical, high volume data processing, restaurant, security, production, farming, retail, true 'temp', construction, personal care, delivery and  automotive. If the workers have kids, the kids are likely to be online (at least at school). Transportation is more likely to be public, if that's available.

The issues involve the reduction of friction. Changing jobs means rearrangement of priorities and schedules. It means repetitive testing and background checking. The answer, we think, is a more permanently documented worker with credentials and references that are as portable as those in the office economy. Development of that infrastructure is where the main competitors in regional markets are going to differentiate themselves.


- John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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         by John Sumser
         © TwoColorHat.
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