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Economics lesson: supply and demand for firefighters in Miami

A story at the Fox News 7 Web site caught my eye this morning. Almost 1,000 applicants lined up for 35 available firefighter positions that will be available in the City of Miami.

Three of those who were waiting in line were interviewed, the first was a former Marine who was unemployed and the other two had waited days in line for a chance to apply for one of the positions.

Looking for work is not fun, It is – quite honestly – a full time job. For these three guys looking for work in south Florida with unemployment hovering around 7 percent, a Miami firefighter position would be good work.

My question is this. Why is there a line 1,000 people long for 35 firefighter positions? Could it be that the pay and benefits are really good? Too good?

If the supply of available candidates is so high, it’s time for the City of Miami to take a look at their union contracts to see if the pay and benefits are too high. I know, it’s a harsh statement. Of course, being a firefighter is a position that is important to the community, and in a city the size of Miami even more so.

But if you were running a business that needed to stay in the black to keep things going, what would you do if you had three positions open and 100 people lined up at the door overnight – in the rain – looking to apply?

If you’re one that says you would not lower pay or cut benefits, I can assure you competition will open their doors across the street and provide a lower pay and benefit package to employees. This will allow them to lower costs to consumers and offer the same level of quality and service.

Where would you shop?