The UGLY Truth About America’s Jobless Economy
Based upon the MANY conversations that I’ve had with people about America’s jobless economy and lack of abundant employment opportunitiesthe last few weeks, it is clear that we are LONG past due the time required for an honest conversation about the HORRIFIC state of America’s “JOBLESS” economy.
Our economy has been transforming at a tremendous rate of change since we evolved from a post-Industrial manufacturing society to an information and technology-driven market.
Entire industries have been transformed due to advances in technology (most notably the Internet.) Sectors of our economy such as printing & publishing, advertising, retail, accounting, manufacturing, banking, and financial services have all been transformed. Significant transformation demands the kind of new skills, training, certifications, and knowledge that threatens the entire American workforce and leads to a severe shortage of attractive employment opportunities.
Making matters significantly worse for America’ workers, the myopic short-term profit centric focus of our business “leaders ” has led to tremendous employee layoffs through outsourcing, off-shoring, downsizing, right-sizing and re-engineering as they pursued a scorched earth policy of seeking the cheapest available labor. We have become a society where there is no such thing as job security and the “contract” between employees and employers no longer exists.
The new “REALITY” for America’s workers.
The average American worker will now change jobs 8-9 times in their career (and the number is on a rapid rise.) One in four Americans can now be classified as contract/independent workers or consultants who are employed on a full-time basis and have ZERO guarantee of steady income.
The state of America’s workforce is SO bad, that wee can’t even determine an accurate accounting for our nation’s unemployed since so many people that are ready, willing, and able to work have given up on looking for work. Pick a number….how about 15-20% unemployed? The truth is, no one (especially the Bureau of Labor Statistics) knows for sure!
Remember the buzz in the media about a “recovery?” Well, it seems that recovery helped large corporations and the top 2% of America, but passed over the rest of us. Large companies have been performing quite well, but are hell bent on hording cash and paying senior executives exorbitant bonuses. No jobs creation there! Meanwhile, smaller companies (including the many I consult with) continue to struggle to meet payroll and keep their businesses afloat. Hire new employees? No way! They continue to be forced to operate with skeletal staffs they’ve had in place for several years since the last round of layoffs.
Insurance companies, banks, and credit card companies continue to prey on the balance of Americans that are in financial distress. This is where the public debate should be framed, and yet we hear nothing but the shrill sound of two parties not willing to compromise on a relatively minor issue of raising America’s debt ceiling.
The bigger issue is a lack of American leadership in politics, education, and business. For 40 years our leaders have taken the easy way out, kicked the can down the road and passed up on countless opportunities to move America forward. Well, that can is at the end of the road. Where do we go from here?
THIS is the broad debate that needs to happen NOW.
The fundamental question that DEMANDS a new kind of visionary American leadership to answer is this: “How can we put Americans back to work?”
For three years, I have been working with all sorts of people from High School students to the mature workforce on ways to bulletproof your career in these turbulent times. There is an “across-the-board” fear at MOST levels of our society that people cannot find meaningful work, and our future is destined to be worse than today.
How did we bankrupt our future? How can we create jobs for our High School students and college graduates and a meaningful future for our children? When 2% of Americans control a majority of our nation’s wealth through Lobbyists and special interests, we are in danger. When a grassroots Tea Party movement of less than 10% Congressional representation can derail a nation’s political agenda, we are in danger. When our children finish well below the students of other nations in math and science proficiency…we are in danger.
Until an entirely new visionary leadership arises at all levels of our American education, political, and business systems, we are merely shuffling deck chairs on the Titanic American jobless recovery and will not see an abundance of relevant employment opportunities.
Women’s World Cup Final Has GREAT Lessons for All
This Sunday at 2PM Eastern Time, I will be glued to my TV watching the US women play the ladies from Japan for the 2011 Women’s World Cup championship.
AND I HATE SOCCER!
So why will I sit and watch, riveted by EVERY play? As a career coach and business consultant…I SIMPLY HAVE TO! These women are showing what it takes for a top team and individuals to strive towards achieving greatness.
I ask you…has ANY other international sports competition brought together two more positive world role models for us to learn invaluable life lessons from than this game? It is truly RARE that a sporting event holds nearly universal appeal for teaching all the most important lessons on life, competition, teamwork, professionalism…YOU NAME IT!
On one hand is the lady’s team from Japan.
Hollywood could NOT have scripted a more improbable, against all odds David victory against Goliath win than when Japan beat a tournament favorite and host nation lady’s team from Germany. As a “reward” Japan got to face a VERY strong team from Sweden in the semi’s where the Japanese team was outsized 5′-4″ to 5′-8″ average per player by the Swedes…AND Japan STILL WON to continue the team’s phenomenal tournament play, in advancing to the finals.
The Japanese team plays for a nation still healing from a massive earthquake and the evacuation that followed due to the threat of multiple nuclear reactor meltdowns. The team has exhibited a “JUST WIN” mentality throughout the World Cup. They have taken on every adversary no matter how seemingly over-matched and has come through victorious in their path towards achieving greatness by winning a title.
The team lends credence to the notion that it’s not the size of the dog in the fight but the size of the fight in the dog. And they are already winners for how they have performed.
And then there are those crazy American ladies…
Favored to play in the finals before the tournament even began, they were a collection of stars that had won everything in their path as they racked up international wins. But clearly they likely had not faced adversity and may not have had to play as a truly unified team as when they faced the team from Brazil.
They ran into a Brazilian team that was up to the challenge of playing David to Team USA’s Goliath themselves. Brazil outplayed the US in the first half. Coupled with truly horrendous, heinous anti-American officiating the USA ladies faced a horrible position of having to play one player short a majority of the game.
As spectators we got to watch a team of stars rise to the occasion on a global stage.
Team USA put aside any egos and individual goals through clarity of focus on ONE goal…winning a championship! They pushed ahead and seized every opportunity and broke through against Brazil then they followed that win with a victory against France, for a date in the finals.
There are so many parallels for these two teams and so much that they represent that is best in sports. And can be in all of us. Can you see NFL and NBA players/teams performing like this (or the MLB and NHL, for that matter?)
Players on both sides elevated their games, put aside their personal needs, changed positions (roles), had the widespread support of their Nations behind them, all while exhibiting the highest levels of sportsmanship/professionalism as they pursued their lifelong passions.
On the American side, there was great coaching (management) by Sundhage, players becoming leaders (Wambach), rising stars who achieved success when called on to step up (Morgan and Cheney), and unbelievable saves from a woman named Hope Solo (how IRONIC!)
BOTH teams represent the highest standards of excellence regardless of the outcome.
Tune in to ESPN on Sunday at 2PM ET. For all those invaluable LIFE & CAREER lessons.
When Was The Last Time You YO-YO’d?
What was the last thing you did for fun that made you happy?
When was the last time that you smiled for no reason at all? Did you jump into a game of jump rope with complete strangers? Walk into a sprinkler…with all your clothes on? Laugh so hard that what you were drinking came out of your nose? Maybe you bought a YO-YO just to have some fun?
This is not an esoteric blog post about reclaiming a lost youth. I am amazed and shocked at the increasing level of anger and hatred that seems to be going on in every town of America. You see it on the streets outside our homes, all the way to Washington, DC and the tone of our national political debate. It’s PERVASIVE.
The other day I was walking my daughter to her swimming lesson. We got halfway across the street when the light changed colors. We hurried across, but a woman in the car at the red (now green) light honked at us, I guess for slowing her down. As we got onto the curb I turned to her, smiled, and waved as if to say “thanks for your patience.” What was her response? She honked again and flipped us the bird…you know, that finger you show people to express your extreme ill-will.
Sure, as an isolated incident we can laugh it off. But these past few years these exchanges of random hostility are becoming all too common. You hear it in the tone of people yelling at servers in restaurants, service staff in stores, people waiting in line for movies.
We are the nation of walking TIME BOMBS, and it makes me wonder how this extreme stress that we all deal with given the uncertainties of our jobs, our homes, and family security, how this is manifesting itself in our own health and personal relationships.
You have to wonder how this rising tide of anger is affecting levels of alcohol and drug abuse dependency, spousal and child abuse, road rage, obesity, the divorce rate, violence in our schools in bullying, conflicts in the workplace such as harassment. It truly is all inter-related.
Clearly the prolonged strain on our society of double digit unemployment, jobs being outsourced and off-shored, our failing education system, our two-party political state of hatred and ineffectiveness…these are all leading us down the road to ruin through anger and unhealthy living.
So, what can we do to reclaim a sense of individual calm, quiet, peacefulness, and a bit of (dare I say it?) happiness?
For starters we can all re-discover what made us happy as children. In honor of July 4th, use the extended weekend to play with a yo-yo or a slinky. Go buy some bubbles, jump in a pool fully clothed. Buy a used saxophone or trumpet, take an art class, pick up that old guitar. Find a friend or stranger to play tennis with. Take a basketball out to the courts and shoot around. Go to the movies by yourself in the middle of the afternoon. Heck, celebrate with a huge tub of popcorn and a soda.
Make a pact with yourself to treat EVERY person you come into contact with in the most civil and friendly of terms, whether a best friend, strained family relation, or complete stranger. You aren’t doing this for others…it’s for yourself.
While you’re at it, spend some time this weekend thinking about the dreams you had when you were younger. It is NEVER too late to revisit your passions. It is certainly NEVER too late to be happy. Try skipping with a child, niece, or nephew, draw chalk on the sidewalk. Go bike-riding.
Take this pursuit of happiness a step further. Remember what you dreamed of doing for a living before you settled on a career of failed hopes and dreams. Rekindle the passion. Find what you are REALLY passionate about AND that you are really good at. Where those two worlds collide…that is your DREAM job. Go for it! If you don’t know how, find someone that can help you.
I dare you. No…I DOUBLE dare you.
HAPPY JULY 4TH!