Glimmers of Hope

Well,… things are not better, but there are glimmers of hope.

The the AP reported today [Article Here] that economic data from the Labor Department contained some promising signs:

“In a sharp improvement, the largest U.S. metropolitan areas were evenly split in July between those where unemployment rates rose from June and those where rates fell.

In June, by contrast, 90 percent of the 380 metro areas had seen their jobless rates rise from the previous month.”

What is happening: the rate of unemployment growth is slowing in many areas.

What is NOT happening: but for seasonal jobs in agriculture and other niche segments, the number of new jobs is not growing fast enough to counter-act job losses.

What is means:  The US economy continues to cling to a very flat growth curve.  In previous decades, even those experiencing recessions, new and revitalized sectors drove job growth.  For example, in the late 1980’s technology drove growth; the dot-com / telecom boom and bust drove the 1990’s and financial services drove the first 5 years of the new millennium.  Uh,.. maybe forget about that last one.

The point is history proves that without a job growth machine fueled by an emerging or jump-started sector, unemployed workers are left to make their own luck.

Are you ready or just waiting?  Do you have a plan?  If not, you need to follow the 1st rule of white-water rafting: When you fall out of the boat, YOU are the most important member of your rescue team.

Get it?


Today’s L.A. Times reported mortgage delinquencies in the California will hit 14% in very short order.  [Link Here]  This on the heels of news that unemployment in California is at a post-WWII high… that’s over 60 years… two-and-a-half generations!

What does this mean for the job market?

First , it means there are a lot of unemployed people looking for jobs (assumably) and not paying their mortgages.

Second, it means housing values will likely be stable for awhile before growing again (as those who continue to pay their mortgages hope).

Third, it means if you are planning to stay in California, I suggest you do some souls-searching as to why.  Particularly if you are in an industry suffering a long-term slump (real estate, construction, etc.).

The Golden state is no longer golden.  The lone star state (no state income tax) is looking better and better all the time.  During the dust-bowl times of the last century, masses of people moved westward in search of jobs.

Today, a new migration is starting… under the call of “Eastward Ho.”

Time to teach?

I recently read an article in Career College Central magazine about professionals becoming teachers.  Career College Central is a somewhat obscure but highly informed source of information on careers in education.  Read article here

The article explored the near-term and long-range prospects for careers in teaching:

In many places, there are more converts to teaching than there are jobs, except in hard-to-fill posts in science, math and special education classes. But the wave of applicants might ease teacher shortages expected to develop as 1.7 million baby boomers retire from the public schools during the next decade.

That indicates that if you can team math or science, jobs are available today.   Looking ahead, if you are considering retiring from your current job and going into teaching over the next 10 years, the retirement wave of current teachers will be breaking in your favor.

The article  also pointed out the high interest in teacher preparation programs among displaced professionals:

Across the country, interest in teacher preparation programs geared toward job-changers is rising sharply. Applications to a national retraining program based in 20 cities rose 30 percent this year (2009). Enrollment in a career-switcher program for teachers at Virginia’s community colleges increased by 20 percent.

Teaching provides an excellent opportunity to stay close to something you enjoy – particularly in science, math or specialty courses at the community college level.  It also may require you adjust your personal budget.   Then again, with the federal government making education a priority, investment should continue – and job security usually comes with it.

It is time to trade the white-board for a chalk-board?

Forbes: America’s Big Cities Where Jobs Are Hot Now

I don’t often agree with articles in popular press, but I almost always agree with Forbes.

In a recent article, Tara Weiss and the Forbes research team correctly point out the areas where jobs in specific industries are growing.  Here’s the article.

Looking through the 3-sided lens presented in my book, “The Rat, The Race and the Cage“, the industry where you work is the Race.  I encourage people to pursue a career in an industry that they find intriguing.  For example, if you are an advertising expert but soap and deodorant don’t excite you (insert your favorite joke about the French here), then the consumer products industry is probably not for you.  Find an industry you enjoy and take it as far as you can.  Sometimes that means moving to another city where the industry is thriving, or at least doing better than where you are located…

While green shoots are not coming up in the macro-economy when viewed in its entirety, Weiss correctly points out that select industry segments ARE seeing growth and those industries invariably have employment concentrations in specific metropolitan areas.

If you are seeking a job in one of the industries described in the Forbes article, it may be time to consider a relocation.  While uprooting is typically the LAST thing people want to do, it is also an opportunity to experience a new part of our great country.  When I press my case with folks, there is usually push-back: the job market is probably competitive because so many experienced professionals are already located in that city.  I counter with the notion that there also may be a shortage of talent.  Example: it was nearly impossible to find great engineers in San Jose from 1999 to 2002 and remains challenging today, albeit it’s easier than it was in 1999-2002.  At that time, stories of lunch-hour job changes were accurate.

It may be time to take a long look at a new city.  I can suggest a great closing line: “While I am currently located in Atlanta, I am planning to move myself at my own cost to Boston as it is a hotbed of activity in Education, an industry where I plan to spend the rest of my career.”

Be bold.

This Too Will Pass

I would rather live today than at any other time in history.  This feeling is and has been consistent on good days or bad days and in good times or difficult times.


First,  the world keeps turning and standing still accomplishes nothing.  Second, everyday is an opportunity to learn, help, share, reflect or heal.  A few of my experiences:

The day of my Dad’s funeral I learned just how much he helped other people and it challenged me  to do even more than I was currently doing.   A minister shared that Dad privately bought plane tickets so the minister could fly to his family own father’s funeral.  We didn’t have a lot but apparently Dad found a way to buy the tickets.  In the midst of my grief over death, there appeared motivation for life.

Some time ago I was married for a couple years while completing grad school.  We got divorced and I was deeply troubled by how the whole thing unfolded.  During the healing process I felt convicted not to become bitter but become better (see also this post).  10 years later a dear friend experienced a nearly identical situation.  I shadowed him and provided encouragement as the cycle unfolded.  It was a blessing to use my previous pain to encourage his healing process.

Early in my career I was passed over for a job promotion that I felt was earned and deserved.  The hiring VP thought differently.  Instead of impulsively quitting that company in disgust, I put my head down and elevated my performance.  That same VP became one of my cheerleaders as my career progressed and he got me an even bigger promotion 18 months later.

In all cases, my first reactions were human and typical; hurt, angry, bitter, resentful, frustrated, cheated, deprived, shunned, abused, etc.  Beyond the normal initial reaction came a wave of self discipline and determination to learn from the mistakes (my own fault) or life experiences (not my fault).  This is not easy.  You must move forward and utilize mentors, books and solitude during the process.

Today’s economy is driving people to the point of despair and into bankruptcy.  Even in the most troubled situations, I can see a vision of a better future.  If this is bottom, then every day forward will be a little better until a more stable plateau is attained.

Even in the face of these headwinds, I would rather live today and look to tomorrow than at any other time in history.  Today’s challenges and pain are what make us appreciate a better tomorrow.

This too will pass.  The question is: how will you use the experience in the future?

Right here, right now, there is no other place I wanna be.
Right here, right now, watching the world wake up from history.
Right Here, Right Now –
Jesus Jones

To help those facing career decisions or challenges I am giving away 100 free copies of my book, The Rat, The Race and The Cage to anyone who WANTS one.  (See This Post)