Stories of layoffs and unemployment are in the news all the time. It is easy to become immune to them since they don’t really affect you personally. Ronald Reagan used to say “Recession is when your neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours.” This week Microsoft laid off 3,000 people, many of them friends and people I know. Maybe I am different, but it does deeply affect me when people I know lose their jobs through no fault of their own.
Today the US Labor Department will release employment numbers for April. Analysts expect big job losses, but a continuing decline from prior months. The US economy has been shedding more than 600,000 jobs a month over the past 6 months. The unemployment rate is expected to jump from 8.5% in March to nearly 9.0% in April, the highest unemployment rate in 26 years. That is bad…really bad.
How bad is it? At the current rate of job loss, within two months, it will be worse than The Great Depression. Marketwatch.com says “This recession, which began in December 2007, has seen some of the worst job losses since the Great Depression. Through March, payrolls had fallen 3.7% from the peak, the worst job losses since the 1957-58 recession. The 1957-58 postwar record of a 4.4% drop would be smashed if another million jobs are lost.”
Tough times never last, tough people do.
"For many, it was as if the clocks had rolled back to the thirties and the time of the Great Depression. Company upon company declared bankruptcy. Unemployment soared. Politicians used the depressed state of the country to their advantage. It provided a great opportunity to highlight the failures, shortcomings, and faults of the opposite political party. Democrats found in it an opportunity to blame the Republican administration which was in charge. Predictably, the Republicans, in turn, blamed the "Democratic administration that created the problem", which the Republicans had inherited."
Sound familiar? That is an excerpt from Dr. Robert Schuller's book "Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do", written 25 years ago. The book is an inspirational guide to dealing with tough times.
We are all dealing with some tough times now. The expression "Tough times never last, but tough people do" brought back memories of earlier tough times and how we found ways to make it through. Since 1980 there have been at least four major recessions...and recoveries. We will recover from this one too.
Innovation will lead us out of this - Chaos brings opportunity. A recession makes companies think about saving money. They consider small vendors that they wouldn't do business with in boom times. Competitors go out of business. Be in a position to take advantage of chaos and uncertainty. Startups are innovation leaders, and innovation will spark an economic revival.
Every economic collapse has a flower that carries with it the seeds of economic recovery. Look around and you will see the seeds of revival. Little green shoots.
Show compassion to anyone who has lost a job, and show some love to startups who are trying to create new jobs.
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