I’m reviewing the June Employment Summary from the Bureau of Labor Statistics this morning.
Overall, the report sounds pretty positive. “Payroll employment increases by 288,000 in June; unemployment rate declines to 6.1%.”
But there’s one statistic I always look for – and then break out in a cold sweat when I see it – “Discouraged Workers.”
Each quarter the Bureau compiles the current employment figures with a breakout of some interesting segments. Here’s a snippet:
“In June, 2.0 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, down by 554,000 from a year earlier. These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey.
Among the marginally attached, there were 676,000 discouraged workers in June. Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them.”
No matter how it happens, a job loss is painful. Maybe you were caught up in a corporate downsizing, and it’s nothing personal. Maybe it was personal; your boss was an insensitive jerk who didn’t recognize your talent. Either way, it’s easy to start questioning your self-worth at such a time. You may wonder if you’ll end up homeless, never to contribute in a meaningful way to civilization again. In 30 days, your savings will be depleted. Are your old office workers laughing behind your back? Are your neighbors looking at “the loser” when they see you at home on a weekday?
Well, don’t get caught up in the negatives. This will only sabotage your immediate future. Here are some tips for breaking the downward spiral of discouragement:
- Release Your Anger. It’s OK to be angry at the unfairness of the economy, the government or the world. But don’t stay there. While you may have been treated unfairly, sharing that will only make potential new employers uneasy and prevent them from wanting you on their team.
- Evaluate Your Life. Take advantage of these transitions to take a fresh look at your life. What is unique about you? How important is time flexibility? What income do you want? See this as a time to move up and forward; not down.
- Network Constantly. Start each day with an action plan. Get out there and meet people. Talk to anyone you can who might offer suggestions on how to improve your job search. Don’t be embarrassed to let people know you are looking for work. You are selling a product, and that product is YOU.
- Don’t Make Excuses. You are not too old, too short or missing a degree. Excuses tend to become self-fulfilling after a while, and mentally you can become your own worst enemy in the job-search process.
- Create other successes. Our success tends to spiral up or down together. Career success leads to financial success, more social and family success, etc. The opposite is also true. Don’t allow a job loss to turn you into a couch potato. Stay sharp physically and mentally. Keep developing your important relationships.
- Stay in the game. Don’t disengage. Show up at a construction site and offer to do clean up. Contact 8 companies and offer to work by the hour in your area of specialty. Don’t ask for a “job,” just wow them with your unique talents. Post the contents of your storage unit on eBay. You may discover a niche where you can purchase at garage sales and resell online.
Honestly, I think these numbers are inaccurate. A lot of these people who drop off the government radar are finding opportunities in small businesses or starting their own. The Labor statistics don’t have a way of categorizing the approximately 543,000 new businesses being started each month. Is that accidental entrepreneur “discouraged” or experiencing the thrill of a lifetime?
Did you move from being a “discouraged worker” to something better than ever before? Tell us what happened?