Are We Living Through Another Great Depression?

I have often wondered about that; when this time is looked at 50 or 100 years from now will it be labelled the Great Depression II?  You hear  so many conflicting stories and news reports, the recession officially ended in June 2009; but it seems things have only gotten worse since then.  Sporadic, job growth that has in no way been strong enough to make up for the lost jobs.  We hear this recession is different than any other time in history, thats why its taking so long to get to full employment.  The effective unemployment and under employment rate is 25%, we have the largest amount of people unemployed for over a year since the Great Depression I, poverty in the US is at an all time high.  Its no wonder people are anxious and spending less money.  Employed people are anxious as well, they see whats going on, I am sure the know someone who was laid off during the down turn, and it has to be in the back of their heads, what if i am next?  So, with people being more cautious (or just having no money at all) they are spending less on just about everything.  I see this in Brooklyn where I live, so many store fronts closed, out of business.  Restaurants in Manhattan also closing, as are other service oriented businesses.  Recently we hear things are getting better, people spent more during the holidays (they also returned at staggering rates), and so now maybe there is a light at the end of the tunnel?  I am not a historian or an economic scholar but I have read enough about the Great Depression to know a lot about it.  The period was not completely grim, at one point, around 1937 I think, the stock market was booming and things were looking up.  Then the government brought in austerity and everything came crashing down again.  Obviously we all hope that will not happen again.

Back to today; the closed shops, sour mood of the country, a nonfunctioning government.  The soup lines aren’t around anymore, they are replaced by people filing for government assistance online.  The question is still open, is this the Great Depression 2.0; or the lost decade (or 2) of Japan?  Time will tell.


The Long-Term Unemployment Crisis That Need Not Be

I hope you all saw the piece on 60 Minutes last week (you can go to CBS News and see the story); I found the piece very interesting and very moving.  First, a little background the CBO announced last week that this is the longest period of people out of work for over a year since the Great Depression; over 5 million Americans have been out of work long enough to exhaust their unemployment benefits; and the effective rate of unemployed or underemployed people is over 25 million.  The reason the unemployment rate is going down is because people are stopping looking for work.

Many companies openly state they are only looking for people who are employed, no unemployed will be hired, so don’t bother applying.  This is a travesty, a disgrace and shows the worst of the American spirit.  This makes it all but impossible for someone like me to find a job; and there are millions more just like me.  I haven’t seen any studies but I am sure being over 40 is definitely a deal breaker for most hiring companies.  The long term unemployed deal with many issues – see some of my other blog postings that go into more detail on that.

So, why am I writing this now?  I am writing this now because I would personally like to change this situation.  I would like to contact some of the largest and smallest companies to join me in dealing with this issue head on.  I’d love to speak with the EVP of Coke (or IBM, Apple, Bank of America, etc) to find a special way for the long term unemployed to apply for positions.  I’d like to see Corporate America come out with a leadership position on helping the long term unemployed.  I am one voice in 25 million but I want to try to tackle this issue to help all of us.  I need your help though, if you know of any contacts at large companies please let me know.  I want to change this situation, please join me!