So what does that actually mean? Are things getting better, worse, still another year ahead of the same? My perception, from my specific view as a small business owner, has nothing to do with numbers, pundits, economists or actuaries. It has to do with what I’m seeing in my corner of California and from speaking with business owners, job seekers, and hearing from readers, some of who have found employment and from others who are heading into three years of no job.
It feels like there will be another short wave of job layoffs. I’ve just heard from a few people I know who have literally just been laid off. That is because the companies who are trying so hard to hold on are on last gasp, and if the pressure doesn’t ease up soon, they won’t be able to hang on. This is because for any small business owner dealing with banks, we all know, first-hand, that the tight fists on money have not loosened up at all. This is because the money from the federal bail-out has gone right back into the hands of those who are rich and richer and not anywhere close to those who really need it.
But the tide is also turning…for staffing companies. One owner of a staffing agency said she has so many jobs that she can’t fill them. They are temp positions because companies need work done, but can’t commit to permanent jobs…yet. This CEO told me that in her history with staffing, this is the start of the turn of the tide.
There are glimmers of those indicators that point to growth and movement for the good. They are there, even though they are bracketed by continued unemployment and job loss. Am I delighted with how the Obama administration is moving their agenda? No. I’m not. But at the same time, we are not longer gushing blood. Like the BP oil well, the gusher is capped. Like the oil spill, it may take years and years to recover. We are so accustomed to instant access to information and instant gratification, that it is almost impossible for most Americans to understand the amount of time it takes to stop the gusher and then replenish the foundation, nor do we really know how badly the underlying foundation of the American economy has been compromised.
Some media commentators have said that we will not see a recovery in our lifetime. My optimistic spirit doesn’t agree, even when there are more homeless children living in LA right now than since the Great Depression. Families are consolidating resources – even with foreclosures, adult children are moving back in with family as they watch their homes up for short sale. Getting rid of landlines, cutting their satellite and cable TV, cooking healthy at home, finding free activities for entertainment.
Out of joblessness comes creativity – and it is there, but there is such a great divide between the haves and have-nots that there has to be a sea change. The big banks are horrible culprits of fostering the divide and that has to change. Bank of America is not the bank for small business (do your own research on the SBA Arc Loan) and much of the financial incentives put in place by the SBA are largely unhelpful or inaccessible. Consumers are being wooed and enticed, but until they can loosen their own pocketbooks the efforts by major retailers may not be sufficient to entice us to part with our tiny dollars. Just a couple of examples: Barnes and Noble is trying to continue their bid for community by offering locations with free WiFi so people will hang out awhile longer with their laptops. Zappos is offering free upgrades to VIP service so that you get your purchases next day.
What are you seeing? Is there a bit of rainbow showing through the storm? Who is finding jobs and are they what your were looking for? How far behind are you in your credit debt?