Sunday, March 07, 2010
Where I live...Making a Living
It ain't easy. There's no manufacturing industry here. We're so far off from the interstate that shipping manufactured goods is expensive and impractical. Technically, there is one manufacturer that does extremely specialized cameras, but that's it.

The major industries in this neighborhood are agriculture and logging. The single largest employer is the school system, then probably the county government. We do have a data processing business, but they've recently laid off. We have two community banks which together probably employ about forty or so people. The medical center employs about twenty to thirty people. We have two practicing attorneys in the county and they each employ a secretary. The rest is construction, retail, restaurants and the service industry.

Many, many local people commute to the valley for work. That means driving over the four mountains every day going and coming. It's at least an hour each way. In all sorts of weather. I used do that. I don't recommend it. That's how I came to be such crybaby about driving in the snow. I guess the only thing our commute has going for it is that you're actually making progress the whole way, as opposed to sitting in a traffic jam on the beltway every day.

An unusually high proportion of the people in this county are retired. This is the sort of place people dream of retiring to. Why? I have no idea. But it keeps happening so there must be something to it. Most of the retirees come from metropolitan areas. They come with their pensions and lots of time on their hands.

People who move here expecting to find a job to support themselves are in for a very rude awakening. It's very hard to land any kind of job above minimum wage. Nothing is ever advertised, unless it's legally required. You just have to know people who know people. The restaurants and convenience store are always hiring. But most people who move here aren't looking to do that kind of work. Eventually they might end up settling anyway.

Me, I didn't have to settle at all. After commuting for the first four years that I lived here I was able to nab my dream job. Besides the fact that I was well-qualified, I also knew people. The thing about hiring around here is that you're rarely dealing with an unknown quantity. You'll already know who they are, who they're related to, their connection to the county, their last job, and their reputation. That kind of knowledge can be a blessing and a curse.

Besides those gainfully employed we also have the usual contingent on social security or disability. These retirees are generally natives to the area. You'd have to be crazy to move here to live only on social security.

Finally, we have the group that drives everyone around here crazy with curiosity (and gossip). Those with no visible means of support. We'll revisit those folks later.