We are about to experience possibly a decade of severe recession, which will reshape the entire way the US economy, job marketplace, and family structure functions. This morning, the unemployment rate is at 6.1% and will likely climb to 7% in the next few months. How does that impact a mature worker? Badly. Very badly. Not only have the financial markets have been hit, but small business, traditionally the kindest and most open to hire a Boomer or 50 plusser, is in deep trouble with a staggering credit freeze threatening to shut many more business doors. That means that the already struggling 50 plusser is really going to have to think out of the box in order to secure employment. In the short term, assume your credit will be cut. It is time for personal austerity measures, if you haven’t done so yet. That means, no extraneous travel. Dinners at home, cooking from scratch, cutting your cable TV, no buying of shoes, clothes and all those things you can live without. If you have received any type of foreclosure or late notice on your home mortgage, you must contact your lender immediately to apply for loan modification due to hardship.
The austerity measures will in turn affect the small businesses even more adversely than they already are and the economy will shrink. So where is the good news in all of this? Hard to find, but there is a bit there.
If people can take a bus instead of driving, they will. Walk or biking instead of fuel-run travel? They will. Parents and children will live together longer, fostering the all important values of multi-generational information sharing. No more Cable means more reading, more library visits, more outdoor exercise. Cooking, sewing and knitting will come back into vogue (again) and heck, there might even be a resurgence of darning.
If you are 50 plus and looking for work, it will be a long hard haul right now. So that means you’ll have to connect with and network with as many people and their leads as you can. If you are relying solely on the internet, think back to when you were first breaking into the job market. How did you find work then? By finding friends of friends of friends, literally knocking on doors, and meeting people face to face.
Is this US election very important? Yes. Canada is having elections prior to the US elections in order to avoid a strong US election impact on the Canadian voter psyche. When we are talking about the need for change in the US, this is not change as most of us know it. I am not an economist or financial advisor by a long shot, but anyone can see that any major strategic and financial reform (which is necessary) will take 8 or 10 years to have a positive, long term result on the overall economy. For those of you who remember living through the austerity measures of the 2nd world war, you’ll remember food rations, material rations (shorter skirts), lack of silk, fuel, metals…you name it. I was brought up to avoid credit and only to purchase something if I had money in the bank. I was shocked at the mounds of credit that is offered to Americans (including my 8 year old daughter.) The days of living beyond one’s means has to end — and is ending whether we like it or not. Just try to buy something that takes you over your limit. You’ll find yourself quickly declined. Tough for the consumer living on their credit cards and virtually impossible for the small business who counts on credit for cash flow. We’re almost as frozen as a mammoth in a glacier.
This time the war has spread to within the US and within the economies of most major markets, and that means serious economic reforms in order to keep this particular, and very young, empire from falling.