The [Disturbing] Geography of a Recession Skip to main content

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The [Disturbing] Geography of a Recession


According to the U.S. Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are upwards of 31 million people currently unemployed—including men and women involuntarily working part-time and people who want a job, but have given up their long search to find one. Yet, while we hear a lot of numbers like this these days regaling the staggering unemployment rates affecting our country, nothing speaks louder than a nationwide, multimedia look at the two-year decline of the United States job front.

"The Decline: The Geography of a Recession," as created by labor writer LaToya Egwuekwe, serves as an interactive look of just how much Americans are hurting (click the link above to view). Eqwuekwe encourages you to “watch the deteriorating transformation of the U.S. economy from January 2007—approximately one year before the start of the recession—to the most recent unemployment data available today.” Like a foul weather system racing across the country, the darkening shades speak volumes.

As we begin a new year with the job market on a continual decline despite economic gains, looming unemployment remains at the forefront of the American psyche. Elected officials, facing reelection battles, are feeling the heat from their parties and constituents. And news sources of all types are debating when, and in what fields, employers will begin rehiring workers.

As business forecaster Kiplinger suggested, only time will cure the problem.

“Time for a gradual revival of credit markets and for a climate shift. In today’s risk-averse environment, few firms are willing to expand, betting on a better tomorrow. And for those that are willing, financing is tight -- either by government fiat (tougher lending standards) or because lenders have become supercautious. That’s especially true for small businesses, where most job creation takes place.

The fact is, unemployment will get worse before it gets better, rising to about 10.5% next spring, then hovering around 10% through the end of the year. Just to hold that rate steady, total employment needs to grow by about 125,000 jobs a month, absorbing young folks seeking their first job plus new immigrants. That’s a long way from the 190,000 jobs lost in October.

Indeed, it will be next spring before the long slide of job losses comes to an end, with businesses hiring more people than they fire. Total employment for 2010 will probably increase by only about 1 million.

One reason: There’s still plenty of room for businesses to increase production and handle new orders without putting new workers on the payroll. They can switch part-timers to full-time and lengthen the workweek, now at a 45-year low. According to economist Daniel Meckstroth of the Manufacturers Alliance/MAPI, manufacturers have enough slack to boost production 5% in 2010 without having to hire.”

As Kiplinger asserts, if you’re looking for work in 2010, some of the greatest areas of job growth appear to be in health care. Because our nation’s Baby Boomers continue to age, and our citizens of all ages continually get sick (and maybe sicker in these depressing times), despite the recession this fulfilling field added more than 234,000 jobs in 2009. The imminent passage of a major health care bill by Congress will only add to the need for doctors, nurses, pharmacists, home health professionals and a variety of medical technicians. As Congress weighs whether to treat nuclear as green energy and debates the viability of other energy sources, the energy industry itself will also likely see an increased need for engineers.  Additionally, human resources workers will stay in demand as companies hire, and rehire, workers in 2010; alongside a stronger market for lawyers, accountants, consultants, manufacturing jobs in food processing, pharmaceuticals and medical equipment, and new jobs in finance stemming from continued efforts to modify delinquent mortgages.

Long story short, the map says it all. And just as it took years to get us into this mess, it will take years to return to get us back to pre-recession employment totals, rehiring the millions who have been laid off, the millions of part-time workers seeking full-time jobs, and the millions of new workers who enter the labor market every new year.

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