Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The state of things to come

I’d like to report to you on what will become an increasing sight here in Collin County, Texas, USA, one of the wealthier counties in Texas.
On Tuesday (Feb. 10), there was a relatively small job fair held at the Plano Centre, a small convention facility, sponsored by, a fairly new online job search site. In all, there were 11 companies represented, including the likes of Raytheon, Lennox, City of Dallas, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank, Region 10 Education Center (TEA), e-rewards, a few consulting firms and others.
This space was reserved prior to recent layoffs at Texas Instruments and other North Texas companies so organizers obviously did not know the size of the crowd to expect.
The event started at 11 a.m., but at 10:45 a.m., there was already a very long line waiting for the doors to open (several hundreds of unemployed jobseekers). The room employed soon was filled to the gills with people waiting in line for more than two HOURS just to drop off a resume (accepting no applications, except on line but didn’t tell anyone) with one firm.
By 1 p.m., the procession to ENTER the Plano Centre wrapped around the building, not counting the crowd inside the lengthy hallway, trying to get into the room. Some estimates had more than 2,000 people looking for jobs at this event.
My wife was one of those involved and kept bumping into former Texas Instruments colleagues – all trying to do the same thing – find a new working life.
Such scenes will be repeated over and over and over as reality comes to Collin County – the weakening and worsening economy is striking at the heart of exurban America, as represented by cities like Plano, Frisco, Allen and McKinney. Since Texas admits the affects of the national recession are delayed before appearing in this state, we are only beginning to witness what the rest of the nation already knows.
Times are tough and about to get MUCH tougher before it gets better.
Fortunately, for this household, my diligent spouse has managed to obtain one of the rare nuggets that others tried so hard to mine – a job interview (with the city of Dallas - but not YET official; no one is returning phone calls and she is getting antsy about it). She was instantly the envy of others; merely wishing to have someone consider them for a new job, let alone hire them.
Such is life is the NEW America RIF (reduction in force … or … rising in fear).

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Hiding the truth behind the numbers

I keep reading pieces by economists and journalists in the know about the impact of the current recession (it hits home in THIS home since we are now part of those numbers). While you can make numbers tell any story you wish, nothing written yet has told the REAL problem with the current crop of layoffs/firings/RIFfing.
The WHO part of it.
It's more white collar than blue collar this go-round and that is impacting the very segment of the consumer market that usually drives the economy. The rich will stay rich (when you've got millions, losses of a few thousands don't have the same impact). But families losing that $75,000-$100,000 income (paid for folks in IT, tech, telecom and related industries) aren't spending on anything - pending passage of the fog that has engulfed their future.
I know; we're in that boat and it ain't moving anywhere. So small things one usually takes for granted (flowers for Valentine's Day, jewelry, dinners this weekend; vacations; home improvements; you name it) aren't going to be purchased anytime soon. Forget cars, let's discuss small items that runs those small businesses. Women will not get their hair or nails done so often; dry cleaning will be left for another day; doughnuts will go uneaten.
People will think twice about adding to credit card debt.
I asked this last week in the Dallas Morning News' Community Opinions section and I ask it again: how will tax cuts help, or how can consumer spending be activitated, if you don't have a job?
Numbers cannot tell THAT story, or provide that answer.