The Great Recession: How to Survive


The employment outlook is generally bad, but depending on how one is Clipart Illustration of a Black Construction Worker Man With A Giant Nail On His Shoulder, Carrying A Hammer In His Handpositioned, it can be much worst as described by this article in Time.  The headlines have cheered lately around the unemployment rate dropping a half percent to 9.7%, but for construction workers, the official unemployment rate jumped to 24.7% and according to Time, many unions are reporting that upwards to 30% of their members are unemployed.  I’d suspect that unemployment rates for any profession tied to the former bubble economy (i.e. realtors, mortgage brokers, appraisers and etc.) are very similar.

The Great Recession’s impact on unemployment comes on top of two other trends that were firmly in place prior to its arrival; outsourcing and technological advances.  Outsourcing is certainly a function of seeking greater profits, but in my experience,  its also being driven by lack of preparedness and poor work habits exhibited by American workers.  Not only is the foreign worker less expensive, but he often also has a better work attitude owing to being more “hungry” for the opportunities that many Americans take for granted.  Technology has just simply permanently eliminated entire lines of clerical and factory workers.  It has also fundamentally altered business models that were formerly more labor intensive.   The internet’s impact on print media comes immediately to mind in way of example.  As we move towards the convenience of paperless news delivery, a whole host of people are affected like those employed by printers, those who manufacture paper, those who make ink for the presses and etc.  Even in my own small business, more extensive use of e-mail and the internet to deliver work product has dramatically eliminated the need for many paper products that formerly had to be printed up or purchased as well as postage and overnight services.  The point is that many people were going to be displaced by technological adaptations and outsourcing even before the advent of the Great Recession. 

So, one of the main things that we all have to come to grips with is the fact that the world as we knew it no longer exists.  Those who figure out where things are heading will be the one’s who survive.

One thing that I’ve personally learned from business is that wherever there are a lot of problems, there are usually opportunities to make money.  So while it’s absolutely true that our nation’s overall economic situation is going to get far worse, I’d be remiss in not recognizing the opportunities that have arisen from the situation.  If you’re positioned to help solve the problems, you can be gainfully employed for a time.  What are some of the problems ?

  • Terrorism—Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab created a lot of jobs with the Christmas day airliner takedown attempt.  Airline security and security generally is a growth area.
  • Foreclosures-someone has got to clean up foreclosed homes to prepare them for sale and someone has to sell them.  I read an article about a real estate broker in Florida who was doing quite well just working with some banks and handling all their foreclosed property inventory.  In the same article, there was another guy who created a business to clean up the foreclosed houses by clearing out the items that the evictees left behind.  Also, loss mitigation divisions of banks are busy right now and are likely a good place to seek employment.
  • Declining Sales-Any business with declining sales need to figure out how to arrest the decline or cut costs.  There are a number of innovative consulting services that are “must buys” for business in such straits. 
  • Bad Credit-Credit counselors and bankruptcy experts are in great demand here.
  • Tax Problems-These problems have increased as the economy has gone south.  A lot of work here for those knowledgeable about working out arrangement with tax authorities.
  • Auto Repossessions-Someone has got to go and repossess the vehicle that someone is behind in their payments on.  For sure, this is a growth industry in this economy.

These are just a few areas that come to mind.  There are many others.  The point is that those who have not re-positioned themselves from the old economic paradigm will continue to face challenges while the prospects are better for those who align themselves towards addressing the problems.  Even if one is properly aligned, the new economic paradigm will likely be one of “free agency” where one will go from job to job in an almost entrepreneurial  fashion.  The bottom line here is if you want a job, or even if you decide to create a business, the best prospects come if you can solve a problem.



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