The Unexpected Job Losses

 

We have a basic unlimited car wash plan with a chain car wash. No, it isn’t A1A Car Wash, even though we’re in Albuquerque. It’s an automated car wash with an option to have interior work done. During the lockdown, they closed their locations and stopped charging the monthly fee. They would occasionally send me messages about plans they were working on to reopen safely. Sometime around May 10, they reopened for exterior service only.

In the Before Time, there were maybe 15 people working a shift. Cashiers for the interior and exterior lanes, four to six people working the interior cleaning, a person on the entry of the wash, two people wiping cars as they exit the wash, two or three doing interior cleaning on exit, and I’m sure a shift manager somewhere. Now there are maybe three or four people working. One cashier, since only the exterior lane is open; one at the entrance to the wash; one at the exit probably watching so the wash doesn’t have an issue; and probably a shift manager.

We all know about the vast numbers of unemployed because of the lockdown and everyone probably knows of at least one business that has announced they won’t reopen. Those are known losses now. How many jobs won’t be there when businesses fully reopen? Over the course of the month, the car wash has been reopened, they’ve added a few items to the automated line. At the end, a second row of dryer blowers has been added and a buffing roller has been installed to take the place of wiping the car. There are nine locations in town and over 300 nationwide. If just those two positions aren’t available upon return and estimate that there are three or four shifts to fill, that’s 1,800 to 2,400 jobs nationwide that won’t need to be filled for this one car wash company.

Now the company didn’t think up that buffing roller during the last few months. It had to be available as an option before, but the wash decided it made more sense to manually dry the cars. I don’t know why the dryers couldn’t come back during a limited reopening. They wouldn’t come in contact with customers. Maybe the expected number of people getting exterior washes versus the total number of washes before won’t cover bringing back more people. Whatever the reason, I’m sure the buffing roller won’t be removed and those jobs will be lost. Just as increasing minimum wage laws cause owners to evaluate replacing people with machines, it appears some companies have decided to replace some positions with machines during a partial reopening. The machines won’t go away.

Published in Economics
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  1. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    Does a guy named Walter White run that place?

    • #1
  2. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    The economy is so complex and interconnected that the people making policy decisions have no way of knowing what the real effects of their policies will be.

    On the positive side, sometimes human work still functions better than machines. I used to live in snow and ice country (Rochester, NY). The automated car wash had a high pressure water machine at the start of the line to knock off the ice and snow that accumulates in wheel wells and on rear tailgates and bumpers. But when the wash was very busy they turned off the machine and put humans out there with high pressure wands because the humans could do the job faster and more thoroughly than the machine. 

    • #2
  3. Linus Poindexter Inactive
    Linus Poindexter
    @LinusPoindexter

    Restaurants that have gone to take-out only or vastly reduced capacity must be using many fewer workers as well. I wonder how many of these restaurants, and other businesses also, will decide that the new way of doing things is good enough and will decide to just continue with a much-reduced level of operation?

    Whatever we’re going back to, it isn’t going to look like “normal.”

    • #3
  4. Bishop Wash Member
    Bishop Wash
    @BishopWash

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    Does a guy named Walter White run that place?

    Started out as a cashier and now owns the place. What a country.

    • #4
  5. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Linus Poindexter (View Comment):

    Restaurants that have gone to take-out only or vastly reduced capacity must be using many fewer workers as well. I wonder how many of these restaurants, and other businesses also, will decide that the new way of doing things is good enough and will decide to just continue with a much-reduced level of operation?

    Whatever we’re going back to, it isn’t going to look like “normal.”

    The problem with that is the fixed cost of a restaurant location. They are going to have to move to maintain a carry out / pick up / delivery business.

    On the other side. This week I went into a Pep Boys, it was gutted. All that is left is the tire sales / service business. All the auto parts sales was gone. That had to employ 50 or more people.

    A couple of my small tailor shops are gone. They were little niche shop, some I have been using for 40 years. Now gone as the owners just could not hold the line. Same with many restaurants, I figure about 20% of the non chain restaurants that I know of are shuttered for good. That was before the riots. Now most likely more.

    • #5
  6. Linus Poindexter Inactive
    Linus Poindexter
    @LinusPoindexter

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    The problem with that is the fixed cost of a restaurant location. They are going to have to move to maintain a carry out / pick up / delivery business.

    Good point. I wonder if there will be a new fleet of food trucks and drive-throughs with the brands of former sit-down restaurants.

    • #6
  7. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret
    @CarolJoy

    Linus Poindexter (View Comment):

    Restaurants that have gone to take-out only or vastly reduced capacity must be using many fewer workers as well. I wonder how many of these restaurants, and other businesses also, will decide that the new way of doing things is good enough and will decide to just continue with a much-reduced level of operation?

    Whatever we’re going back to, it isn’t going to look like “normal.”

    Except that people are beginning to revolt. We simply cannot become the nation of RFID chipped, overly vaxxed, continually surveilled upon and contact traced society that Bill Gates and his many many proxies desire us to be.

    Already people have let their legislative boards and their assembly people in state government know that the Governors of Illinois, state of Washington and California have been way out of bounds.

    Meanwhile the Association of Physicians and Surgeons is suing the FDA for basically banning the use of Hydroxychloroquine for COVID patients. After all, something is stinking to high heavens. If the nation of Japan had a loss of 890 people total due to COVID, why did our officials goof up so badly that we lost over 50,000 COVID patients? (Yes our country is three times as populated, but even allowing for that difference would have our death toll remain well under 3,000 – if we did as Japan did.)

    There should be no new normal. In fact we should join with the other governments of the world and begin indicting people like Bill Gates. None of us are better off being ruled by the Ultra Rich, who are rapidly realizing, as Mr Gates realized 8 years ago, that the easiest and quickest way to bring one’s wealth to an exponential rise is to outlaw “normal everyday activities.”

    • #7
  8. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    Linus Poindexter (View Comment):

    Fake John/Jane Galt (View Comment):
    The problem with that is the fixed cost of a restaurant location. They are going to have to move to maintain a carry out / pick up / delivery business.

    Good point. I wonder if there will be a new fleet of food trucks and drive-throughs with the brands of former sit-down restaurants.

    I don’t think so. Customers want the experience of a sit-down restaurant meal. Many foods don’t travel well in a takeout format. 

    My most frequented restaurant is a diner. Diner food does not travel well. Those eggs and hash browned potatoes (breakfast) or french fries and toasted bun on the hamburger (lunch) need to be eaten within minutes of coming off the griddle (or out of the fryer). Ten minutes later at home they are soggy messes. 

    The chief server at the diner I frequent was excited last week that the diner was back to full staffing (though still at only 75% customer capacity). We are now at week 5 of permitting eat-in dining. She confirmed that although the eat-in dining takes more staff, the increased revenue from eat-in dining makes that a much more stable business base than a take-out only model. Take out only did not even really cover the fixed costs, but was done during total shutdown only to reduce the losses on the fixed costs.

    • #8
  9. cirby Inactive
    cirby
    @cirby

    My business (conventions and corporate meetings) is still basically shut down. Supposedly, a few conventions will start up in July, and even more by September, but even the ones that are going to be held are suggesting a 2/3 or more drop in attendance.

    Barring a miracle, I don’t see my business coming back to more than half of what it was just six months ago. I’m learning new skills right now, and I’m looking for my next job, because the sorts of things I made the most money on are the things that will take the hardest hits. Large general sessions with a thousand people in the room? Probably not that many of those any more. Breakout sessions with thousands of people shuffling from room to room, sitting elbow-to-elbow for hours straight with people from all over the world? Not happening.

    Between unemployment and the money I had socked away in the bank, I’m good until the end of the year. But after that? Time to find a brand new career for the next decade or so before I retire.

    • #9
  10. CarolJoy, Above Top Secret Coolidge
    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret
    @CarolJoy

    The New York Times ran an article about “An Avalanche of Evictions” that is about to hit across the nation:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/27/us/coronavirus-evictions-renters.html?referringSource=articleShare

    With rents for even small one bedroom apartments now reaching close to $ 1,000 a month, people who were busy working two jobs to pay their bills are looking at homelssness as their future.

    All for the sake of an illness whose very existence is about propping up the FDA, CDC, NIH, plus all of Bill Gates’ many proxies, and to keep the rest of us on pins and needles about whether or not our nation will soon be filled with overly vaxxed folks whose bodies are containing RFID chipping to track us. Yet a simple $ 20 a month remedy like HCQ is banned? What the feck!

    • #10
  11. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):
    The economy is so complex and interconnected that the people making policy decisions have no way of knowing what the real effects of their policies will be.

    What’s more, they often do not know that they do not know, and in fact have no idea that they are not seeing the whole picture. In a way they are like Soviet Apparatchiks trying to manage an economy–not as bad, but bad enough. Furthermore, those people do not suffer because of the lockdown. They continue to get their paychecks, and what’s more they have lots of savings and investments to cushion them through economic downturns. Without skin in the game it is very easy for them to discount the suffering their policies cause. What’s more, they live and socialize with people like themselves–not with the people who are laid off or whose small businesses are closed; the suffering is not real to them because they do not see and feel it as a real human thing; it is only numbers in a report if even that.

    • #11
  12. Paul Stinchfield Member
    Paul Stinchfield
    @PaulStinchfield

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    the suffering is not real to them

    “Learn to code.”
    “I can’t worry about every undercapitalized business.”

    • #12
  13. cirby Inactive
    cirby
    @cirby

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    the suffering is not real to them

    “Learn to code.”
    “I can’t worry about every undercapitalized business.”

    The really interesting part will be when all of those people who get evicted decide to take their anger out on the people who decided on those policies.

    DeBlasio? He’s toast. Even though he was going to run out his term limit anyway, he’s never going to hold public office again, and even his other options are going to be few and far between.

    A lot of the Democrats who have been trying to nuke their own state and local economies to go after the Orange Man will be learning some really funny lessons about how long voters will hold grudges. The one simple thing that every Republican needs to learn is how to subtly (and with compassion) keep reminding their Democrat neighbors exactly who did this – and how not to be polite and shy when then try to deny it.

    • #13
  14. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    CarolJoy, Above Top Secret (View Comment):

    The New York Times ran an article about “An Avalanche of Evictions” that is about to hit across the nation:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/27/us/coronavirus-evictions-renters.html?referringSource=articleShare

    With rents for even small one bedroom apartments now reaching close to $ 1,000 a month, people who were busy working two jobs to pay their bills are looking at homelssness as their future.

    I suspect that homes and apartments in dozens of urban centers and close suburbs are going to be significantly cheaper soon (too bad about the ‘food deserts’ and high crime rate). The evicted can move there!

    • #14
  15. lowtech redneck Coolidge
    lowtech redneck
    @lowtech redneck

    cirby (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):

    Paul Stinchfield (View Comment):
    the suffering is not real to them

    “Learn to code.”
    “I can’t worry about every undercapitalized business.”

    The really interesting part will be when all of those people who get evicted decide to take their anger out on the people who decided on those policies.

    DeBlasio? He’s toast. Even though he was going to run out his term limit anyway, he’s never going to hold public office again, and even his other options are going to be few and far between.

    A lot of the Democrats who have been trying to nuke their own state and local economies to go after the Orange Man will be learning some really funny lessons about how long voters will hold grudges. The one simple thing that every Republican needs to learn is how to subtly (and with compassion) keep reminding their Democrat neighbors exactly who did this – and how not to be polite and shy when then try to deny it.

    That last part is key…..a national majority seems to be blaming everything currently happening on ‘systemic racism’, yet funnel money through BLM into the coffers of the same Democrats who have been designing and maintaining the ‘system’ for decades.

    • #15