Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Hollow Tooth Diaries: Employment and Un

Latvia was one of the countries hit hardest by the economic crisis. A severe real estate bubble and the failure (and eventual nationalization) of a large Latvian bank did a lot of damage over here. Unemployment shot to (I think) the highest in Europe (I've seen several conflicting statistics).

You can see that here, not by unemployed people hanging around (though they exist), but in the people that are working.

Basically every low-paying job that you might see once in a while in North America is filled. Ice cream vendors (in city centre, more than one per street corner, and they work even in the rain) and security guards (everywhere, even in grocery stores - also deemed important in high unemployment to prevent theft) are very prevalent.

There's also a plethora of jobs in the 'unofficial entrepreneurship' sphere, like bicycle taxis, flower sellers, and minibussses. Also, extensive use of carpooling.

When people are desperate for work, employers who can afford it can fill a lot of otherwise extraneous jobs.

EDIT: I forgot performers! There are lots. Buskers are plentiful, and the outdoor beer garden affairs seem to engage live acts every night. I also saw one of those places that had hired a magician to circulate through the tables, doing card tricks.

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