What a mess. 6.1% unemployment rate.

If you are a Boomer or 50 plusser then I can guarantee that you have not been burying your head in the sand about our economic situation. Let’s take a clear look at the financial landscape — both in the US and Canada and internationally.

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.

6 thoughts on “What a mess. 6.1% unemployment rate.

  1. Ray, there are many, many job postings, you are quite right. And if you look at sites like http://marketing.theladders.com/ or jobs on http://www.linkedin.com, you’ll see many of the higher salaried positions as well. However, there are literally hundreds of people applying to each job opening. After many years as the hiring manager for my own department, I can assure you that many resumes get lost in the sheer volume. And with so many people applying to any single position, as a hiring manager, I had the luxury of finding the exact right fit and exact right skill set for any position that was open. With a tougher economy and more people unemployed, that means even more candidates for each position.

    That is why it is so important to use a multi-prong approach to job search — which largely relies on who you know at any given company…i.e. networking to get a foot in the door, to get your resume put near the top of the pile, to get it on the desk of a hiring manager. I just finished reading an excellent article in Forbes Magazine, September 29th issue (http://www.forbes.com/personalfinance/forbes/2008/0929/096.html)that gives a fantastic overview of current and future statistics for the 50 plus crowd, as well as insight into the decades ahead. It’s kind of scary, but I found it very realistic and well researched.

  2. I think this will also herald in quality versus quantity thinking in business models…consumers will demand consumable goods that will last longer and maybe not have a Made in China sticker…it will be tough for a while, but better overall for our country and psyche. I disagree with you about jobs though…we were facing a severe shortage of workers with the baby boomer retirement looming…now managers will rely on people they don’t have to train and maybe the concept of loyalty will make a resurgence.

  3. Stacie, I hope that you are right regarding jobs for 50 plussers. I have been heavily promoting the 50 plus worker for 4 years and from the hundreds of emails I get, I see a lot of closed doors and frustrated jobseekers, especially in the middle of the country. If I were an employer, I’d be thrilled to bring on a 50 plusser, but I see many, many talented jobseekers, with exceptional resumes that cannot get a foot in any door.

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