Stability is no longer a workplace option

In the category of "tragic news that everyone will laugh at", Megan McArdle reports that job security for lawyers in the USA is very much a thing of the past:

The odds are increasingly long that a recent law-school grad will find a job. Five years ago, during a recession, American law schools produced 43,600 graduates and 75 percent had positions as lawyers within nine months. Last year, the numbers were 46,500 and 64 percent. In addition to the emotional toll unemployment exacts, it is often financially ruinous. The average law student graduates $100,000 in debt.
Amusing enough for anyone who has ever been envious of the over-paid privileged legal practitioners, but this is merely the legal field catching up with most of the rest of society.

The concept of "a job for life" is now sufficiently rare that the very phrase sounds archaic; instead of something to aspire to, it's a facet of workplace history. The assumption is no longer that once you join a workplace you'll be there forever; rather, there's a divide between those who hop from job to job at the same (low) level, desperately trying to keep their head above the financial waterline, and those who use jobs in a similar way that animated sprites use the platforms in a game of "Donkey Kong" - steadily leaping higher and higher in an attempt to rescue the heroine and beat the game.

Because of this, it never ceases to amaze me - you'd have thought I would have learned by now - when people explicitly or implicitly assume that they will stay in the same place, working the same job, for the indefinite future. It seems so contrary to any rational expectation. I suppose it's a hard thing to contemplate moving job / house / country, but that's the world in which we live. Having made several major leaps across the country in pursuit of jobs, I can sympathise with those recoiling from the prospect of dislocation; and yet, in hindsight and in comparison with my friends and colleagues that stayed in the same place, it was definitely the right move.

McArdle nails the modern day situation:

But remember that we are not facing anything that our ancestors didn’t have to cope with. Insecurity is rarely fatal, even if it’s really frightening. And we may have to learn to live with it, because no one seems to have a very good answer for how to fix it.
You hope for a stable future, but hope is not a strategy. If you want a stable life, you have to be planning actively how to handle instability. Closing your eyes and humming "lalala" is not going to make the world of change go away.

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