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National and Global, United States

Monday, October 26, 2009

Let The Good Times Role...for 10% of Americans

Gallup on October 15, 2009, reported the findings of a poll it conducted that showed that only 10% of Americans feel that now is a "good time" to find a quality job, reflecting no improvement since February 2009. While that stat is not astonishing, where the job creation should go, is more profound. We should be placing much more emphasis on building areas of digital media technology, alternative energy sources, and 'brick and mortar' businesses such as hotels, restaurants, electric cars. Instead, the government builds highways, capitalizes the banking and automotive sector, in hopes of bootstrapping these 'out of touch' and oh so traditional industries.

On the poll's findings, said Gallup:

"National job-creation trends, according to Gallup's Job Creation Index -a separate measure based on U.S. employees' self-reports of job conditions at their places of work -confirm Americans' perceptions that this is not a good time to be looking for work."

In its most recent poll to measures job creation, Gallop found a small sign of improvement on the hiring side, with its Gallop Job Creation Index up three points from zero. Said Gallop:

"The percentage of workers saying their companies are letting people go, at 24%, was about the same as a month ago and a little worse than a year ago. At this point, the Job Creation Index suggests the job market has improved from earlier this year but remains somewhat worse than it was at this time last year, when the financial crisis was unfolding."

Gloomy Stats

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in its Employment Situation report for September 2009 reported that among the unemployed, the number of job losers and persons who completed temporary jobs rose by 603,000 to 10.4 million in September. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and more) rose by 450,000 to 5.4 million. In September, 35.6 percent of unemployed persons were jobless for 27 weeks or more. (see my previous blog post on 20 million really unemployed).

In "Weak Data Signal Grim Prospects For Workers" on October 3, 2009, Washington Post reporter Peter Whoriskey describes how the latest U.S. government indicators paint a dismal picture of the economy.

"The report," says Whoriskey, "underscores fears that, even as some sectors of the economy have stabilized and stock markets have rallied, the prospects for workers remain bleak."

Moreover, he says, "the report underscores persistent long-term joblessness, with more than one-third of the nation's unemployed out of work for more than six months."

"The recession's toll on workers rose again in September," Whoriskey reports, "with the unemployment rate climbing to 9.8 percent, its highest level since 1983, as the count of the nation's jobless topped 15.1 million."

Job losses, Whoriskey relates, "have continued for 21 months, the longest such stretch in 70 years of records, according to analysts."

There are now six unemployed people for every job opening across the United States, "and the odds against job seekers are clearly taking a psychological toll," Whoriskey reports.

The category of people the federal government classifies as "discouraged workers," people not seeking work because they believe there are no jobs available, has risen by 239,000 in the past year to 706,000, he reports.

Whoriskey describes how in Macomb County, Mich., a suburb of Detroit, "the unease among the long-term unemployed is palpable" and that the five employment offices in the area recently hired security officers to stand in the lobby.

John Bierbusse, head of the workforce investment board in Macomb County, is quoted as saying: "It's something we've never done before. People are desperate. They're on edge when they come into our offices."

Whoriskey relates that a survey released by the Business Roundtable, an association of chief executives whose companies employ 10 million people, said that only 13% of its members intended to increase hiring in the next six months, and that 40% said they expected their U.S. payrolls to decline during that period.

In another sign that jobs will remain scarce, Whoriskey says, the Commerce Department reported that factory orders fell by 0.8 percent in August, while economists surveyed by Bloomberg News had expected orders to remain flat.

The recession has resulted in many more bankruptcies, Whoriskey reports, with consumer bankruptcies in the United States rising 41 percent from September 2008 to September 2009, according to the American Bankruptcy Institute.

"People filed 124,790 cases in September 2009," he says, "compared with 88,663 a year ago. Through September, 1.04 million cases were filed, officials said."

Samuel J. Gerdano, the American Bankruptcy Institute's executive director, is quoted as saying:

"Bankruptcy filings continue to climb as consumers look to shelter themselves from the effects of rising unemployment rates and housing debt. The consumer filing total through the first nine months is consistent with our expectation that consumer bankruptcies will top 1.4 million in 2009."

"But as telling of economic distress as the 9.8 percent unemployment figure is," says Whoriskey, "it may be masking even greater weakness in the labor market, analysts said."

About 571,000 people left the labor force, either because they were discouraged or for other reasons, says Whoriskey, adding that 'if they had remained as part of the labor force, the unemployment rate would have jumped even more.'

Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the Economic Policy Institute, is quoted as saying:

"We are going to see deepening pain in the real economy for a very long time. This recession is just astounding for the duration of the unemployment."

Bottom-line, we need to take control of our own destiny now. Waiting in line to fill out forms, sending out traditional resumes, answering ads...none of this is going to work in the short term. In fact, these avenues are probably gone forever.

It probably will be years before jobs return to acceptable levels. Until that time, you cannot wait for the government to create jobs. You need to do that yourself. Reinventing the wheel, so to speak. Reinventing yourself. Creating your own personal brand. Because frankly, the only person that probably would hire you in this environment is, well you. And if done correctly, with patience and professionalism, you'll be noticed, and the brand will thrive. That's you. Bob Incorporated!

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