Beginning To See the Light

What seems like ten years was only three short years ago. We experienced the beginning of the worst down turn in our economy that many of us will ever see again in our lifetime. In the early 80’s I’ve been told that it was just as bad with the lost of many jobs. Being a recent college grad during that time my experiences were quite different and I viewed employment differently. The impact of not having a job at 22 years old was quite different from not having a job at 50 years old, married with a family and mortgage.

If I recall the 80’s represented a period when the U.S. was shifting from an era of factories to high technology. Growing up in Birmingham we knew that factory jobs that required a vast labor pool would always be in demand. Having a college education assured us of great paying white-collar and blue-collar jobs. Like most American cities the smoke stacks defined our work ethic and our American pride in producing goods. Believe it or not it felt like everybody who wanted to work was working. I know we cannot relive the past but it was such a great feeling when jobs were available if you were qualified and wanted to work. Those days have long gone and only represent fond memories and great pride.

Unemployment today has the same impact on families as it did in the 80’s with several exceptions. The cause of this economic downturn was not due to technology and the changing of times. Rather it was the result of corporate greed and the mismanagement of our financial systems. The devastation that resulted from this ineptness affected lending, housing, savings, healthcare and retirement. This resulted in a labor pool that resembled the Great Depression. There were blue-collar, white-collar and corporate senior managers unemployed for the first time in their careers. But Americans remain prideful and are hard workers and resilient; we will recover and be stronger and wiser in the future as a result of this experience.

Well the sun is beginning to shine again with the U.S. economy. It was just reported that the unemployment rate is now at 8.8% and continuing to improve. In the last two months more jobs were created during this period than during any other time since 1983. Now that’s something those of us who were around during that time can appreciate. I am still bullish on four job sectors: education, government, technology and healthcare. If you are looking for employment opportunities these sectors should be looked at first. The smaller companies are leading the way in job creation in March with 102k jobs, medium-sized companies 82k and large companies 17k. The backbone of our country continues to be small business start-ups and during tough times you will see more people take a risk at starting their own business. For employment opportunities start looking at smaller companies where you can bring a wealth of experience to help these companies grow.

One reality that we will have to accept is that companies are really watching how they run their businesses. The goal is to be [lean and mean and profitable] and that means expecting more from us for a day’s pay. Top paying Professionals may find it more of a challenge to find a job paying what you made two years ago. It doesn’t mean you won’t find that job but realize the competition will be tougher this time around. I know there are some companies that will not hire some candidates because of the fact they are over qualified. You know what? Forget about those companies and don’t waste a minute trying to rationalize their thinking. At the end of the day you are better off not working for them anyway. There are companies that will value your experience and welcome you as an employee to help their business grow. I am excited about this turn around and see nothing but positive things down the road.

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