Posted August 28, 2012 by

Of all workers laid off from 2009 to 2011, just 56.9% had jobs as of January 2012

John Challenger of Challenger, Gray & ChristmasLabor Day kicks off what is typically a more volatile employment environment, as companies adjust payrolls to align with year-end goals and plans for the coming year.  This makes it the ideal time for workers and job seekers alike to reboot their efforts to find or keep a job, according to the workplace authorities at global outplacement and executive coaching consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

“For many companies, business activity declines during the summer months, as sales slow and key decision makers take off for vacations.  The pace tends to quicken as the year comes to a close as companies scramble to hit earnings goals and establish objectives for the new year.  As a result, it is not unusual to see a flurry of employment changes in the final four months of the year,” said John A. Challenger, chief executive officer of global outplacement consultancy Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Following the worst economic meltdown since the Great Depression, it should come as no surprise that this has been one of the worst recoveries.  That point was recently driven home by two reports confirming just how weak this recovery has been.

An analysis of economic data by the Associated Press reveals that in addition slow job growth and stubbornly high unemployment, economic growth, as measured by GDP, has never been weaker in a postwar recovery.

Consumer spending has grown just 6.5 percent since the end of the recession, undoubtedly due largely to the fact that most Americans’ pay increases are not keeping pace with inflation.

Meanwhile, a new report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that Americans who lost work during the recession are having significant difficulty finding re-employment; even when they do find new work, they’re taking major pay cuts.  Of all workers laid off from 2009 to 2011, just 56.9 percent had jobs as of January 2012. Another 27.5 percent were still unemployed, and 15.7 percent had dropped out of the labor force altogether.

Despite the bleak employment picture, keeping or finding a job should not be considered lost causes, by any means, according to Challenger.

“People continued to hold onto their jobs or find employment, even in the weakest point in the recession and recovery.  The key to success on both fronts is to take an active approach, as opposed to a passive one.  In this economy, it is critical to make your own opportunities,” advised Challenger.

While the jobs picture remains cloudy, one thing is clear: employers are announcing fewer layoffs.  The Challenger firm tracked more than 2.5 million announced job cuts in 2008 and 2009.  From January 2010 through July 2012, the firm tracked planned job cut announcements totaling just under 1.5 million.

“People may not feel more secure their jobs, but the data suggests they are.  And we hear from many employers that they are actually increasingly concerned about losing existing workers as the economy continues to improve.  In fact, a survey we conducted among human resources professionals in June found that 80 percent of respondents’ companies were focused on employee engagement with 67 percent reporting that the focus on engagement is greater now than it was before the recession,” said Challenger.

“It is important to understand that those who keep their positions during this downturn are not going to do so by flying under the radar.  And those who find jobs are not going to do it by simply responding to Internet job ads.  It will take a more aggressive approach that goes beyond most people’s comfort zone.

“The other key to succeeding in your Labor Day resolutions is to set specific objectives and reasonable deadlines for achieving them.  Instead of making it your goal to find a new job, focus on the smaller steps needed to get that job.  For instance, resolve to join a professional association or find other ways to meet 10 new people in your field,” Challenger said.

“Additionally, it is important to focus on things you can control and act on personally.  Resolving to get a promotion requires your employer to take action.  Resolving to keep your supervisor regularly updated on your accomplishments and joining a workplace committee are actions that you can take that will help position you for a promotion.”

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