I’d like to preface the comments in this post with a clear message: The economy is not great and a single job loss impacts a person, a family, and a community in a very significant way. I feel deeply for those who have lost employment in the past year and for those who have lost jobs during economic upturns as well.
Even with the truth of my understanding for those who’ve lost a job, I have been troubled by something lately. I’m sure I’m not the only one. It seems to me that bad news is being unnecessarily portrayed as horrible news and horrible news is being portrayed as the end of the world. The media seems to be intent on making the already bad look even worse and I can’t see how this helps the motivation and mental position of the world’s population.
Case in point: Today, CNNMoney.com released a news article with the headline:
Worst Year for Jobs Since ‘45
While it is very true that more jobs were lost in 2008 than in any year since 1945, the article and the headline portray an even more negative view than reality. How is this?
Consider that the U.S. population was just under 140 million in 1945 and that the population is just over 300 million at the beginning of 2009. The CNNMoney.com story used the number of jobs lost (2.6 million) alone without full consideration of the relation to population size. One brief comment suggests:
We have a bigger economy now, but even on a proportional basis, the last months have been the worst since .
Let’s do the math and see if, on a proportional basis, the year of 2008 was as bad as, or close to, 1945.
Let’s do the math with the following figures adjusted against my argument: We’ll say only 2.5 million jobs lost in 1945 with a population of 140 million, which is a little more than the population was and a little less than the real job losses. We’ll then say that 2.7 million jobs were lost in 2008 and the population was 300 million, which is a little less than the population was and a little more than the real job losses. In other words, I’m skewing the calculation in favor of the CNNMoney.com article and not in favor of my argument.
Here’s the end result: In 1945, 1.78 percent of the population had lost a job. In 2008, .9 percent of the population had lost a job. As you can clearly see, when the numbers are evaluated based on the real people being impacted, 1945 was nearly twice as bad. Even if we say that a larger percentage of the living population is in the retirement age today, the numbers don’t change much. For example, if we take 50 million out of the 300 million in order to simulate an environment that is socially more like 1945, we end up with 1.08 percent of the population losing a job.
I could introduce other arguments, such as the fact that there are far more two person income households today than there were in 1945 and that this fact makes the 1945 job losses even worse still, but I will cease with my comments and turn to a positive note.
Please, do not take my comments to mean that we should not be both thoughtful and prayerful for those who have suffered a job loss. On the contrary, I’ve lost jobs in the past and I know the pain and emotional roller coaster that a job loss creates. However, my argument is simply that we should not allow the media to beat us down and make us more hopeless than we need to be. I look at my books as just one way that I can help IT professionals improve their careers and, as usual, if you need my help, please email me and I’ll be glad to provide any advice and technical information that I can. The offer is particularly important to those who may have suffered a job loss. That’s why I give you my email in the books and I do indeed mean it when I say I’ll help.
Be confident. Be hopeful. Don’t be naïve. Face reality. The economy is not as good as it once was. Here’s the question to ask: In this weakened and possibly still weakening economy, what kind of person will be employable and how do I become that person as fast as I can? With a hopeful vision of the future, we can climb out of the pit of emotional turmoil that so often accompanies job loss.
Here’s what I like to do: Remember what it was like 16 years ago (we haven’t seen a 7.2% unemployment rate in that long) and realize that I survived. At least it places the numbers into a reality – mine from 16 years ago. This also causes my mind to spin in new directions and realize that all four of my children have come along in those 16 years too – that gives me joy.
Afterward: Here’s a more realistic article related to the job losses, even though it still contains a lot of exaggerated verbaige – I suppose it sells: More realistic article.