Job Insecurity

Job Insecurity

While the nation continues to wait for the smoke to clear from the recession of 2001, subscribers remain bearish on the employment outlook for the new year — a key economic indicator.

The recession — generally defined as two consecutive quarters in which the economy contracts as indicated by negative growth in the gross domestic product (GDP) — may be over (real GDP increased at an annual rate of 3.1% in the third quarter of 2002), but recession-like conditions remain. Among those conditions is the national unemployment rate, which stands at 6% (11% for African Americans).

Keeping with the theme of the careers issue, ( asked readers about their outlook for the employment scene. Readers were asked how concerned they were about job security, whether they were moonlighting, and if they expected economic conditions to improve over the next six months. Of those surveyed, 32.2% were very concerned about job security, while 52.6% were either moonlighting or considering it. Half of those surveyed, 50.8%, felt that economic conditions would not improve within the next six months.

Richard Bayer, COO of the Five O’Clock Club in New York, a career coaching and outplacement network for professionals, managers, and executives, says the poll results mirror the current national sentiment. But he stresses that things aren’t as bad as many perceive them to be and that the overall unemployment numbers are not as high as the double-digit figures of past recessions. “Right now, people are clinging to their jobs more than they have in the past, there’s no doubt about that, but the long-run prognosis is pretty good,” Bayer asserts. “People are finding jobs, it’s just taking a little longer. We’re finding that instead of eight to 10 weeks, it’s taking 10 to 12 weeks to find a job.”

Since the unemployment rate is a lagging indicator (a variable used to confirm that a stage of the economic cycle has already occurred), the employment picture won’t brighten until more of the forward-looking leading indicators (such as housing starts or durable goods orders) improve.