Friends, let’s not sugarcoat it: This is an exceptionally lousy time to be looking for a job. We’ve all heard by now (repeatedly) that about 2 million of them vanished in 2008, more than 250,000 in the financial sector alone, and that hiring at most companies has slowed to a crawl or stopped altogether.
But don’t give up. If you happen to belong to the broad category of employees the Bureau of Labor Statistics identifies as “management, business, and financial occupations” – a group that includes white-collar folk whose titles range from office manager to CEO – there may well be a job opening out there somewhere with your name on it.
That’s partly because grim reports about mounting unemployment usually neglect to mention that job losses don’t fall equally across all categories of workers. The overall unemployment rate, now at 7.2%, includes people of all ages and occupations. But joblessness tends to be more widespread among very young workers, no matter what the economy is doing, points out Karen Kosanovich, an economist at the BLS. If you look only at Americans aged 25 or older, the rate is 6%. Narrow it to only people with four-year college degrees, and the unemployment rate is 3.3%. That’s much higher than it was in 2006 and 2007, when unemployment among college grads hovered around 2%, but it’s still far below the 7.2% national average.
(Conversely, unemployment rates among construction workers and factory employees are much higher than average, at 13% and 10% respectively.)
Moreover, notes Jonas Prising, president of staffing giant Manpower North America, “Some of the ‘job cuts’ announced in late 2008, especially by very large companies, included normal attrition like retirements, plus a certain amount of deciding simply to leave some unfilled positions open for now. So that widely cited figure of 2 million job losses is not all involuntary layoffs, which makes it far less scary than it sounds.”