Monday, September 5, 2011

Don't Worry, Be "Unstoppable"

Aren’t you a good friend: your best buddy calls you right in the middle of HBO’s “Unstoppable” back-to-back marathon (right when they put the locomotive in reverse) and you took the call.  Why? They were upset, and apparently airing their troubles on Facebook just wasn’t cutting it (they only got 400 comments).  They needed the prize: you (aren’t you awesome).  Even though you were hoping to get at least three showings of “Unstoppable” in today, you put the final viewing aside for your friend (did you mention it was right when Chris Pine and Denzel go after the 777?).

Your friend seems seriously depressed, when they are usually happy.  Quickly your “unstoppable” mood is in danger of stopping:  they tell you they lost their job and have relationship problems.  All they need is money issues and they’ll have the perfect trifecta (luckily you aren’t the one to bring that thought into the conversation).  They worry money problems will come next and fear they will never find a new job “with things being the way they are.”  

The good (no, awesome) friend you are, you do some quick research online to see “how things are.”  You see that the jobs numbers released on Friday show why your friend is pessimistic – when subtracting loses from gains, the economy added no jobs (that’s zero) in August and the unemployment rate remains unchanged at 9.1%.  The private sector only added 17,000 jobs (much less than what is needed to keep up with population growth let alone reintegrate the unemployed back into the work force) after downward revisions to jobs totals for July and June.  But then you see a bright spot to quickly bring to their attention.  Your friend chose their career wisely by working in healthcare.  You tell them not to despair as they should have an easier time finding employment than other people because, relatively speaking, healthcare jobs have been increasing like gangbusters this year.  Even as most other industries are holding constant or shedding jobs, healthcare added 35,500 jobs in August.  Keep looking and they will find something before they know it.  The numbers are in their favor all around.  Thank goodness for the booming population of old people, it is job security for life.

You then proceed to problem #2: it appears your friend was dumped (a.k.a. “taking a break” that wasn’t their idea).  Relationship problems are not usually fun, unless you enjoy being unhappy.  Your internet research also reveals that, in apparently more great economic news, consumer confidence in August was at a 2-year low.  Last week consumer confidence for August measured in at “44.5”, dropping by almost 15 points from July, meaning we (the public) believe the economy is in another downturn (not good, we need a measure of “50” or above to indicate economic growth).  No wonder your friend is depressed.  You tell them it’s not them, it’s everyone.  We are all feeling a little pessimistic these days and they too can become “unstoppable” if they detach their locomotive from the rest of the train (yes, you like the movie that much).  Take a long weekend somewhere (their schedule just cleared) and hang out with some quality friends (like you).  You assure them they’ll feel better in no time.  Plus, bright side, the expectations component of the measure, while also at a 2-year low, came in at “51.9” which still indicates positive expectations ahead (barely, but you leave that part out).

You tell them there is always a bright side: now your friend can take some time to clear their head and search for a job they actually would like, and maybe even meet someone worth their while (you never liked their significant other anyway).  And, added bonus, they can take the time to enjoy what's important, like the new season of reality delights including "H8rs" where people confront the reality celebrities they "h8" like Snooki and Kim K (what genius).  They can think about such important questions like “I h8 people, how can I get paid to act it out?” or “who will take Maury’s place when he is too old to read DNA results?”   Maybe during a 10 hour back to back Hoarders marathon your friend will come up with the next big thing that all households must buy.  Maybe they could start an (educational but fun) blog!

(Bureau of Labor Statistics, The Conference Board)

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