There’s a saying in the Aerospace Industry: If you haven’t been on a cancelled program yet, just wait.
This axiom likely rings true in many other industries as well. There was a fabled time when corporate jobs appeared to be very stable. You could simply chose the company you wanted to work for and stay with them for 40 years. At least that was the expectation. I’m not sure this was ever really true, but the mirage of corporate stability fully collapsed along with the stock market in 2008. Firms were letting large portions of their workforce go just to stay above water.
The hemorrhaging of employees wasn’t just limited to 2008. While the advertised unemployment rate is currently sitting at 5.5%, the true story of employment resides in the workforce participation rate. The participation rate is hovering around 62.9%, near a 37-year low. A full one-third of able bodied adult Americans did not participate in the labor force. This is an astonishing fact. While some of these people voluntarily stay home, many of them have simply stopped looking for work. After a window of time, about 6-12 months, it becomes very difficult to find a professional job. At this point, a person will take whatever part-time work they can find. As you can see from the plot, this problem has gotten worse since 2008.
My own experiences with this phenomenon first began at the second job I held after college. Continue reading