The New Job 6/12/20

News from Richard Bleil

Today has been interesting. I was offered a new job.

Shocked? Well, so am I honestly. Kind of. For those of you who are pulling for me, let’s not celebrate too quickly. It’s not in chemistry, it’s part-time, with no benefits. The good news is that it should dovetail with my adjunct faculty position. This means multiple income streams, but two part-time jobs do not equal a full-time job, but with as little as I’ve had of late, it will be a greatly appreciated income. They describe it as long-term temporary; I get the feeling it might have the potential to become more permanent, but we’ll see.

The job has nothing to do with my training or experience, really. Well, maybe. The company has been contracted by the government (apparently since about 2000) to collect voluntary data on drug use, data used to apparently consider legislation and health initiatives. The job they’ve offered is a “field interviewer”. It will be my job to go to people’s homes to administer the surveys in person. There were a lot of questions about how comfortable I would be in various neighborhoods, so it should be exciting to say the least. They are behind schedule because of the pandemic, which is part of the reason they are hiring. It should be fun to see if I can catch the virus.

Now I’m at a loss as to where to go with this post. Should I discuss the difficulty of multiple part-time jobs that most people might not think about? Part time jobs are often underpaid. They’re often designed for people with little training or education, and they’re paid accordingly. With these two part-time jobs together, I’ll still be making a fraction of what I had been making even as a chemistry professor.

It doesn’t help with taxes, though. When I’ve had multiple jobs in the past, I came to realize that something in the calculation of tax rates always cost more. With a full-time job, I’ve always had a tax refund, but with part-time, I always how significant tax instead.

Benefits is another issue. At the first college where I taught, if enrollment was down they would reduce faculty workloads. This was highly unpopular, as cutting their hours also cut into their take-home pay. However, the administration actually was quite kind to them in a way. Usually, faculty contracts guarantee a minimum pay and workload making the income pretty much guaranteed, but what this college did was, when it was necessary to cut workloads, would always restrict their reduction to seventy-five percent of a full-time faculty professor. At this percentage, the faculty were guaranteed to maintain their benefits.

A lot of people don’t realize that the value of benefits often equal to roughly half of the take-home pay. A take-home pay of, for example, $40,000 gross will likely have about $20,000 in benefits. You can actually keep some of these benefits when you are no longer employed, but you are required to pay for these benefits, entirely, out of your own pocket. So, $40,000 per year is roughly $20 per hour, or a little more than $3,000 a month. That means, you can expect your benefits to cost roughly $1,500 each month out of your own pocket. This is a lot of money. Had I kept my benefits, that would be more than what I anticipate making between this new job and the adjunct teaching position combined.

The Affordable Care Act was designed to help with that. For those who need a refresher, the idea was that every state, and every citizen, participate in one way or another. Prior to the ACA, only a fraction of people had health insurance. People without insurance would often wait to seek medical help until it was too late and very expensive because they couldn’t afford to go. One of the major complaints about the ACA is that the amount people paid (either by purchasing insurance or through fines for not participating) was based on income, and many people had significant discounts because their take-home pay was quite low. But these same people who would have paid something previously paid nothing. Hospitals were required to treat them, and they would declare bankruptcy or simply not pay the hospital bills. These were paid for by those who could afford insurance or otherwise pay for treatment.

Wow has this post meandered through topics. Honestly, I can’t even say if this is a happy or unhappy post. I have a new job, which will dramatically improve my income flow, although I won’t be paid in time as next month’s paycheck was canceled when my course was, but if I can find a way to survive next month then I should be much better off. It’s not a career, but it will let me interact with people, and set my own schedule. Sort of. It feels like I’ve given up on a true rebound in my career. So, I guess, congratulate me?

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