We are easing out of the Great Recession, though it is still difficult for some.
We are heading into the Great Inflection, according to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman.
We are in a hyper-connected – not just connected – world, Friedman asserts. We are seeing more wealth created, and much better productivity in the workplace.
But, that isn’t translating into lower unemployment. You see, some of the jobs lost in the Great Recession will never return.
Think back to the time when World War II ended, the Industrial Revolution was in full swing, labor unions had great clout and – here’s the big one – technological progress was relatively slow.
If you got laid off from a job, chances are it was a slow period for your employer. When things picked up, you were back to work. Men – most married women did not work then – would crow about “steady” work. In other words, there were few peaks and valleys in their business. They got a paycheck every week for their 40 hours, plus, for some, the bonus of overtime.
College education was for the few. Parents wanted their sons to get out and work, and their daughters to get married. That idyllic life didn’t work out for everyone, but it did for a large number of people.
Contrast that period to today. If you have a job, you fear change, because it comes quickly and you don’t know how that change will affect you, until it does. Companies reorganize one day, and a few months later they do it again. Each time, usually, more people lose their jobs, replaced by some machine which, likely, will be “old” technology a year later.
As companies cut jobs, many of them are creating new and different ones, either at the same time, or a short time later. The people being cut may not fill the bill for the new positions. Something to think about: if your current job is a series of repetitive tasks that don’t require you to create anything, you should be thinking about learning something new. Chances are, your job will not last as long as you want it to.
Some of the folks from those earlier working days, once they hit a certain age, balked at learning “new stuff.” They were counting the days until they could retire. Today, if you don’t learn new stuff, regardless of your age, you will be gone, probably sooner than you want to be.
Friedman points out that with rapid change, the workforce has to keep learning. Your schooling, whatever it is, won’t last you the rest of your life anymore. It will always be with you, but education today is merely an entry vehicle. The people who survive in today’s workplace are those who are always learning, who can deal with change in stride and can foresee what might be coming. As Friedman puts it, you have to provide added value to the technology.
For those of you either shut out of the modern job market, or who live in fear that one day you will be, visit It’s one of the best of several ways you can create wealth WHILE you await your fate in the job market. One day, perhaps, you might not even need the job market.
In much of the discussion about employment and the economy today, many long for those old days. Jobs were “protected.” Work was, for many, “steady.” Workers had a certain security that they were convinced was never going away. Many today fight the changes that connectivity, technology and other productivity enhancements have brought. They want it stopped. But, it’s like standing on railroad tracks and holding out your arms, thinking you are going to stop one of those bullet trains.
Progress will happen with or without you. You can choose to fight the Great Inflection, or you can work to be part of it. If you can’t beat it, either join it or look for a new plan. Put your fate in YOUR hands.