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That’s the less-than-helpful headline on a March 20, 2014 New York Times article that got my blood boiling – as it implies older workers are pretty much out of luck in the job market. Not one helpful hint pointing towards a solution.

Then I read an equally enlightening article in Canada’s Globe and Mail, with the headline: “Unreliable jobs data clouds labour picture.” It too, had no helpful advice, but it did include some truth-telling. No truer words have ever been spoken than the quote from Federal Employment Minister, Jason Kenny: “None of us knows exactly what’s going on in the labour market of today.” (March 30, 2014, The Globe and Mail) He was defending his government’s use of Kijiji to track the number of jobs available.

I’m sure you’ve heard this saying more than once: “There are lies – damn lies – and then there are statistics.”

As a career counselor, I know from both client feedback as well as from personal experience, that many of the Kijiji ads are duplicates, outdated, fake, or even scary propositions not to be pursued. My government-funded employment office counted those ads as stats of jobs available – even though it was pie-in-the-sky dreaming. Our small city was hardly capable of creating the hundreds and sometimes over a thousand jobs per month that we reported as available – based on our less-than-reliable stat-keeping methods.

Frances Woolley, economics professor at Carleton University, has been quoted as saying: “We have really great information about the supply side of the labour market” ( job seekers ) from detailed reports such as the monthly Labour Force Survey.” Really? That’s accurate? I guess she missed the government’s own admission about the stats being an ‘estimate’ based on a ‘sample’ from a select area. My advice? Don’t place any bets based on these surveys!

Does that monthly report account for all the people who have been forced into part-time jobs, have work that doesn’t match their skills or education, moved elsewhere to find work, have become so despondent that they’ve abandoned their job search, have shifted to self-employment or been forced into early retirement? I’m pretty certain it doesn’t!

Conservative MP Andrew Saxton said his party is seeking ideas for the 2015 budget and feedback related to the Canada Job Grant. You know how much that party loves ideas from outsiders!

While the bureaucrats and bean counters are busy arguing over the best way to collect data or debating which studies to fund next – desperate people are out trying to find work that gives them rent and grocery money. And – as Saxton has admitted – they’re out of ideas!

This is the exact reason why I encourage everyone to take control of their own future and why I have written a book that offers some guidance on how to do so.

My book (Work On Your Own Terms ) offers a lot more optimism than these headlines do – while providing some action steps to help you live and work in a way that honours your needs. Check it out. You don’t even need to buy a copy. You can ask your local Public Library to order it for you.

Need to go lie down so I can lower my blood pressure now…