Does one little unemployment blogger even stand a chance?

A picture may be worth a 1000 words. But this one is actually worth 1055. I counted.

A picture may be worth a 1000 words. But this one is actually worth 1055.

People lose their jobs everyday. It happens in good economic times and bad, in every city and town across the country. My day was eight months ago. Someone else’s was four months later or last week. Believe it or not someone was also hired on each of those days, maybe even at the exact moment I was getting canned. At least that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning, in addition to the cat pawing at my face. Every economy has some churn in its workforce, and my time will come.

All those unlucky and lucky someones are the basis for such exciting figures as the unemployment rate. If my vague memory of college Economics classes (or Economics in general) is to be trusted, unemployment should sit right around 5% in a well functioning economy. The natural rate of unemployment is the percentage of the active workforce who should be out of work and looking at any given time. Those lucky 5% change from month to month. Some lose jobs and join the unemployed ranks and others find jobs and leave. If the unemployment rate is lower, than companies and industries aren’t evolving and growing as efficiently as they should. If the rate is higher, then wages are too expensive. At least that’s the theory. These days, as we all know, the national unemployment rate sits around 9.5% and should easily push past 10% before the end of this nationwide, nay, global kerfuffle.

Unemployment numbers and theories are abstract. They look great on paper. They sound great at parties and in the media. And they read great in posts from bloggers who like to think they know what they’re writing about, and occasionally do. What makes numbers and theories scary is their meaning in the real world. Every single someone who loses a job is a real person, as is every someone who finds a job (though the ratio of unemployed to jobs is 6:1, according to NPR). Each person could be you or someone you know.

My last layoff bothered me a bit; maybe you’ve sensed the undercurrent of disappointment in one of my many unemployment tomes. But it was also kind of expected. Whenever the economy gets a little gas, whenever my employer du jour sniffles, I’m kicked to the curb. It’s part of being the new guy (last in, first out) in marketing (the first department cut). I probably deserve some of the blame too. Still the scenario is so common, there should be a word for it in the dictionary. Noah Webster, are you listening? I have a couple of additions for your book. No, no, that’s fine. Go back to being dead. I’ll talk to one of the editors…

norm [nawrm]
to be laid off repeatedly at the first sign of economic trouble.

one who is laid off repeatedly at the first sign of economic trouble.

Normian [nawr-mee-uhn]
of or pertaining to the plight of Norm and his kind, esp. those who are laid off repeatedly at the first sign of economic trouble.

In the last eight months of job searching and bellybutton gazing via blog, other friends and acquaintances have lost jobs. And a few have found them. The lost part always bothers me. The found part makes me happy and prompts a mental note to guilt the lucky bastard into paying the next time we’re out. These are all people who, from what I can tell, are in my league. They are about as skilled in their chosen fields as I am in mine. Ergo, their job loss tells me that mine isn’t all my fault, and their hiring tells me that mine will soon follow. The employment market may be filling up with competition, but at least it’s a fair fight.

Recently two of my good friends lost their jobs. One – a high-priced lawyer with Ivy League credentials – was laid off earlier this week. He’s been fruitlessly seeking a new position for months. Another – an upwardly mobile media/entertainment exec – lost his job a few months back. He’s now spending time with his kid and slurping mediocre coffee at the local Starbucks. I consider both to be excellent at what they do; wifey and a few others fall in this category too, but they all still have jobs ([fingers crossed] no whammies, no whammies!). Both are impressive. Both have done well for themselves to date. Both are extremely smart and infinitely employable. Both should have jobs, and don’t. Their companies were even willing to let them go. Are things really that bad?

Where does this leave me… marketing professional and unemployed unemployment blogger extraordinaire? Not only are the best and the brightest out of work. So too are the even better and even brighter. I’m not in direct competition with these two friends. Both are in different fields, and one lives in another city. But I am in competition with people like them. Companies are no longer cutting the fat. They’re now cutting the muscle and bone. Do I even stand a chance? Do I even bother trying? Should I just crawl into the corner, pull my knees to my chest, pine for Econ 101, make up more words and rock back and forth until the nice men in white jackets take me away?

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  1. underemployed wrote:

    Wow…this one really hit me hard. I have no words. We are in the same boat and I have become helpless, desperate and insecure…Thanks for vocalizing what we cannot.

    Monday, July 13, 2009 at 12:57 am | Permalink
  2. jonathan wrote:

    It is hard to say. But just be positive and try to find opportunities. Maybe some online works?

    Monday, July 13, 2009 at 12:35 pm | Permalink
  3. Eka wrote:

    Hey, so I’ve been reading your blogs and I can’t help but feel nervous about my upcoming job interview. I have to be on top of my game :S…any idea where I can get a nice suit? I’ve been hearing about SYMS clothing store and about their huge discounts on designer suits. Have you heard anything about it?

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 4:26 pm | Permalink
  4. Norm wrote:

    Yeah, Syms or Men’s Wearhouse will have stuff at decent prices. I always seem to have good luck at Macy’s too.

    Wednesday, July 15, 2009 at 5:54 pm | Permalink
  5. Hazel wrote:

    tempting to go into the corner and wait for the men to take you away.

    tempting, because it’s easier. Being unemployed, though you don’t have to get up and go to work every day, is hard. daily rejection starts to chip away at your soul after awhile.

    submit resume, interview, fail, submit resume, interview, fail is a tough cycle… especially if you’re not even getting interviews half the time. But. you’re just as employable as the next guy. and the employed have to wake up every morning and go to work at a job they may hate. You and I have to wake up and keep submitting resumes.

    Sunday, July 26, 2009 at 12:55 am | Permalink

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