02/05/2011: "No Improved Employment Signs"
By Minnie Knych
As Ronald Reagan once said, "Recession is when a neighbor loses his job. Depression is when you lose yours." We are told by some experts that the recovery began in July of 2009.
We are told by some experts that the recovery began in July of 2009. But, if you personally just received a lay off notice, you probably feel we are in the midst of a recession; and if you have been unemployed for the past year, you may be certain we are in the midst of a depression.
Whatever your definition of the economic situation, there seem to be few signs of recovery in San Juan County.
In good or bad times, the economy in San Juan County lags behind the state in trends. One sign that our recovery is not on track was the October unemployment rate We ended the summer with an unemployment rate of 6.0. November's unemployment rate jumped to 6.9% or 550 people. That is higher than the unemployment rate that we usually experience in mid winter. You can expect that the unemployment rate will not improve during the winter months. .
Keep in mind that unemployment counts only those people who are currently receiving unemployment insurance payments. Those who are no longer eligible for benefits are not included. Also many people in our county work “off the books”. That is, they work for cash payment and they are not counted in employment statistics. It is safe to say that our true unemployment rate could be as high as 8% to 10%.
Businesses in San Juan County are mostly small “Mom and Pop” style businesses with ten or fewer employees. The uncertainty about tax increases adversely affected hiring. Now that Congress has made that decision, business owners can make their plans for staffing needs over the next two years.
This recession has taught business owners that they must operate leaner and more efficiently to stay in business. Last summer, with fewer customers and less sales, frequently business owners found it necessary to personally work more hours rather than hiring a new employees. Until government spending is brought under control, small businesses will be uncertain about the economy and will not begin to hire new employees or borrow money for expansion. That will keep the economy in limbo for some time to come. One small business owner has put it this way, "I don't intend to hire one new employee until I need two."
For business owners there is help available through the Workforce Council Career Center . We can assist employers with development of job descriptions, offer advice on average wages for a job description, interview questions to better measure applicant's potential, or pre screening and reference checking of applicants.
For the unemployed, the Career Center offers assistance with resume construction, job hunting skills and interview skills. Any job applicant is welcome to use the self-service Resource Room which has computer programs to assist with resume writing, and an extensive resource library of videos and books on every aspect of job hunting.
Through the Workforce Investment Act, we also offer programs that require pre qualification such as the 55 and Better Program designed to assist the hardest hit segment of the economy, those aged 55+, with retraining and re-entry into the work force. Also there is an Adult Program for low income unemployed adults, and a Youth Program for the 16-20 year olds. The Career Center is the gateway to Job Corps applications and offers pre-GED assessment. Through the Northwest Healthcare Alliance, there is assistance for training in the medical technology field. All of these programs are application programs and require pre-qualification. Call me at 378-4662 for an appointment to assess your options.