Why you are unemployed

By Neil Patrick

This morning, I have been catching up with Stefan Molyneux. In case you don’t know him, he is the host of Freedomain Radio, which is billed as ‘the most popular philosophy show in the world’.

Here is part 2 of his series of broadcasts, entitled, ‘Why you are unemployed’.

If you are unemployed, you may not care very much why, just what you can do to change it. So, if this is how you feel, I’ll save you wasting your time and suggest you don’t watch the film below (or even bother to read the rest of this post). There are no solutions or tips here about how you can change your situation. I've posted plenty of more practical advice about this elsewhere on this blog.

But if you want to get some thought provoking ideas about why jobs are getting scarcer and why the US is struggling to create well paid jobs, there are answers, or at the very least hypotheses to be found here.

And these are not the usual suspects like greed and corruption. Or QE and state subsidies of banks. Or even the damaging effects of low cost overseas labor. Stefan makes the point and it’s persuasive I think, that greed and corruption have always been part of human behaviour and they are no more prevalent today than they were in previous generations when professional working people in the US could expect a much better standard of living. It seems fair to assume that something else is at work today.

Stefan Molyneux
 Credit: Frank Licorice

I certainly agree with him that the idea that we live in freedom is a complete myth. If we were truly free, would we be sent to jail if we didn't pay our taxes? If we were free, would we be forced to adhere to the endless rules that our governments impose upon every aspect of the lives of honest hard working people?

Stefan has been described as an anarcho-capitalist philosopher. This means that he supports the free market as the best way of efficiently (and fairly) distributing wealth throughout society. The anarcho bit relates to his beliefs that state interventions in people’s live should be minimized and that the roots of all our problems today lie in over-extended state power and its endless appetite to extract wealth from citizens in the form of taxation and control. He sees this as a vicious circle that has got completely out of hand. He believes that our governments in the US and the west in general have become defacto fascist empires. And like all empires, they exert control and protect their power through the exertion of violence. Not necessarily bloody violence within their borders, but repression nevertheless in the form of taxes, coercion and the threat of imprisonment.

So watching this won’t help you get a job. It might though give you some new ideas about WHY you can’t get one and help you appreciate why it really isn't your fault.

Stefan claims that philosophers are not interested in supporting any political position. That they are only interested in finding the truth. I’ll let you decide for yourself whether or not you think THIS is the truth.

One man’s quest to make the best career consulting open to all

By Neil Patrick

Since I started this blog, I have just kept on meeting more and more really amazing people in the area of careers and jobs. HR heroes, star recruiters, resume writers, Linkedin experts, social media stars, bloggers, coaches…the list goes on and on. But then every so often, I meet someone extraordinary who doesn't neatly fit into just one of these categories.

I have made it part of my mission to find and connect with the most important and influential people in these fields. It’s a simple and obvious objective really. By finding all these people, I can provide readers of this blog with the best contacts possible. Despite being in different specialisms, these people all share one thing…a passion for helping people with their careers.

If you’re a bit of a cynic, that’s OK - I’m the same, but I’ll tell you right now that this post is a free plug! But I am only doing it because I think this is something that deserves spreading the word about and it’s a fascinating story…

Meet Fernando Ratkoczy

I first encountered Fernando Ratkoczy a few months ago on Twitter. He had a much bigger following than I do - over 35,000 - so I figured, he was someone I’d like to have in my Linkedin network.

Fernando Ratkoczy
When I checked him out on Linkedin I was astonished to find he had no less than 102 recommendations from people he’d helped. The average is just 2 from what I can discover.

And the glowing endorsements about him convinced me that he was much more than just a normal career coach. I knew I had to talk to this guy.

We exchanged a couple of emails and agreed we’d speak on the phone as he was temporarily in Europe instead of his normal home in California.

He’s helped over 10,000 people already

We managed to schedule a phone chat which ended up being four hours long!

As we started talking about his career, I quickly became fascinated. He had spent 20 years of his life as a career coach working with professionals who were facing redundancy. And it turned out that he’d helped over 10,000 people land great new jobs. That’s an astonishing number.

Being the slightly sceptical person I am, I did the maths. That’s 500 people a year, or about a dozen a week. Fernando explained to me that that was his normal caseload when he was a corporate career coach. He provided job finding consultancy and coaching to people who were typically being laid off by large organisations. His job was to ensure his clients found and landed new jobs as fast as possible.

I wanted to know firstly, why he thought successful professionals needed any help at all with their job search? He was quite unequivocal:

‘Today, being good at your job is no longer enough to get you hired for your next job. Getting hired is a specialized skill all on its own. And most people know far less about it than they think they do. Only a fool would attempt to represent themselves in court. You hire a professional. Finding and getting the right job is no different.’

Fernando went on to tell me that to minimise the negative PR, his clients’ former employers would pay up to $10,000 per person to ensure they were helped as quickly as possible after redundancy into a new job. Since many people were not adequately equipped to easily do this themselves, their ex-employers were willing to pay for this assistance as part of their redundancy package.

Which is how he became an expert at finding people great jobs. Or rather helping them to do it for themselves. And his success at helping people achieve this was why so many people had shown their appreciation of his help and guidance on Linkedin.

Why is it so expensive?

I asked him next why this coaching was so expensive?

‘The one to one coaching process is very time consuming. It takes many hours of meetings and discussions. And the firms that provide it typically carry big overheads. Most people don’t know what the steps to success are. They wrongly assume that you search for job vacancies that fit your experience, send off your application and resume, and hope you get an interview. It just doesn’t work like that anymore and if you use that method, you’ll most likely be in for a very long period of unemployment’.

Over many years, Fernando developed his coaching into a slick machine. He wasn’t in the business of just sitting there and giving tips. That was far too uncertain. What was needed was a proven process, which if followed would ensure success for everyone. At every level from the most junior to VPs and Executives. Over 20 years, his process just got better and better, until it was about as robust as it could possibly be.

How Hollywood comes into the story

As the chat progressed, he told me an amazing story about his own career. Before spending 20 years as a career coach, as a young man, Fernando had sought to develop his career in Hollywood. He had spent years in the film industry learning the art of film production. He’d actually acted in films and directed several too, before deciding to become a career consultant with one of the biggest global career consulting firms.

But that wasn’t the most interesting part of his story. He decided a few years ago to leave the world of corporate career consulting and combine his two areas of expertise; helping people find and land great jobs and film production.

He set out with a simple but hugely ambitious goal. He would produce the most comprehensive set of coaching films ever made, dedicated to revealing to people all the best practices and secrets of job search success he’d learned in 20 years of career consulting.

But these wouldn’t be just interviews and tips. Instead he set out to create a comprehensive programme which would film every step of the process he had refined over 20 years from start to finish, using the full production resource that would be applied to a movie production. Every scene would be properly scripted. Every shot would be professionally directed, lit and acted. The material would be edited, organised and packaged so that anyone could easily follow the step by step process.

This cost him over $1m dollars!

I’m still amazed at the ambitiousness of this project. Even after all the editing and organising, the full film programme runs for 7 hours! And I wasn’t in the least surprised when Fernando told me that it had cost him over $1m and 3 years to complete.

I wanted to know how the final result had been received. ‘The programme was finally finished last year and I’ve been delighted at the reception it’s been given by large organisations and the career coaching community. It’s great to get the endorsement of other recruitment and HR professionals. They tell me that the programme provides a really attractive alternative to the slow and expensive process of face to face coaching. And I’m relieved that they are buying it too… I need to recover my investment!’

I wanted to see the outcome of all this work and investment for myself and so Fernando gave me a free pass to view all the materials. I spent several hours going through the resources he has set up at the Successful Job Search Center - SJSC.

The materials there are impressive in their quantity and quality. Not just the film material, which is superbly well structured and presented; there are 400 resume templates for every role imaginable. Over 20 cover letter templates. A user forum. Progress tests. And a database of every employer in every state in the USA. It’s a very complete resource package.

Fernando has also provided me with this short series of excerpts so you can view some extracts for yourself.

I think he has succeeded in his goal beyond any expectation. The resources and process he has created distill all the best practices into a simple process that anyone can follow to achieve success.

I’d like to thank Fernando for the time he’s given me to talk about his life and work and I wish him every success with the Successful Job Search Center.

If you’d like to know more about the SJSC programme, just follow this link:


If you’d like to connect with Fernando or view his Linkedin profile, here’s the link:


Why US jobs data is meaningless - well just plain wrong actually

By Matthew O’Brien

The real legacy of the Lehman collapse wasn't an economic meltdown. (That would have happened anyway.) It was three years of wrong information about the economy.

You know something is really boring when economists say it is. That's what I thought to myself when the economists at the Brookings Institution's Panel on Economic Activity said only the "serious" ones would stick around for the last paper on seasonal adjustmentzzzzzzz...

... but a funny thing happened on the way to catching up on sleep. It turns out seasonal adjustments are really interesting! They explain why, ever since Lehmangeddon, the economy has looked like it's speeding up in the winter and slowing down in the summer.

In other words, everything you've read about "Recovery Winter" the past few winters has just been a statistical artifact of naïve seasonal adjustments. Oops.

Okay, but what are seasonal adjustments, and how do they work? Well, you know the jobs number we obsess over every month? It's cooked, in a way -- but not how Jack Welch thinks. For example, the economy didn't really add 169,000 jobs in August. It added 378,000 jobs. But that 378,000 number doesn't tell us too much. See, the economy pretty predictably adds more jobs during some months more than others.

Things like warmer weather (which helps construction), summer break, and holiday shopping create these annual up-and-downs. So to give us an idea of how good or bad each month actually is, the Bureau of Labor Statistics adjusts for how many jobs we would expect at that time of year. This doesn't change how many jobs we think have gotten created over the course of the year; it changes how many jobs we think have gotten created each month of the year.

You can see how that smooths out the data in the chart below from Johns Hopkins professor Jonathan Wright's Brookings paper. It compares the adjusted (blue) and unadjusted (red) numbers for total employment going back to 1990.

But there's a problem. The BLS only looks at the past 3 years to figure out what a "typical" September (or October or November, etc.) looks like. So, if there's, say, a once-in-three-generations financial crisis in the fall, it could throw off the seasonal adjustments for quite a while. Which is, of course, exactly what happened. The BLS's model didn't know about Lehman. It only knew about the calendar. So it saw all the layoffs in late 2008 and early 2009, and interpreted them the only way it knew how: as seasonality, not a shadow banking run.

And that messed things up for years. Because the BLS's model thought the job losses from the financial crisis were just from winter, it thought those kind of job losses would happen every winter. And, like any good seasonal model, it tried to smooth them out. So it added jobs it shouldn't have to future winters to make up for what it expected would be big seasonal job losses. And it subtracted jobs it shouldn't have from the summer to do so. You can see Wright's estimate of just how much this changed the monthly jobs in the chart below, which I've annotated with when the Fed stopped and started its unconventional policies. Notice a pattern?

The Fed has stepped on the gas when seasonal adjustments have made the recovery look weaker than it actually was. And the Fed has stepped off the gas when seasonal adjustments have made the recovery look stronger than it actually was. Now, this is certainly suggestive, but it's not dispositive. As Wright points out, Fed economists are aware of Lehman's seasonal distortions: it's why they changed their seasonal adjustments for calculating industrial production.

But there is still a question how aware the policymakers on the Federal Open Market Committee are of this. Indeed, St. Louis Fed president James Bullard said one reason they didn't taper their bond purchases in September was weak data -- and that "sometimes the jobs report can change the whole contour of how the [FOMC] look at the data." (Though, to be fair, House Republicans threatening to blow up the world economy again was probably a bigger reason for the no-taper). In other words, bad data might be influencing the Fed's bad stop-start policy.

Just how bad are the data? Well, keep in mind that the jobs report's margin of error is supposed to be about 90,000. But these post-crisis seasonal errors have almost doubled it to about 170,000. That's right: the jobs report's real margin of error has been about as big as the average jobs report itself the past few years. 

Now, the one bit of good news here is this effect has already faded away for the most part. Remember, the BLS only looks back at the past 3 years of data when it comes up with its seasonal adjustments -- so the Lehman panic has fallen out of the sample.

Here are two words we should retire: Recovery Winter. It was never a thing. The economy wasn't actually accelerating when the days got shorter, nor was it decelerating when the days got longer. It was mostly growing at the same, kind-of-miserable pace. 

Of course, we journalists (myself included) scrambled to explain what turned out to be a spurious trend: it was the pentup demand for housing or cars or ... something that had the economy looking up every winter. Eventually some Wall Street firms, and journalists like Cardiff Garcia of FT Alphaville, began to suspect something was screwy with the seasonals. But in the meantime, everyone else showed off our infinite capacity for rationalization. There's always a story you can tell, and we certainly told them. After all, stories are more interesting than disclaimers about margins of error and seasonal adjustments.

Now, seasonal adjustments might not sound sexy, but there's nothing sexier than getting the jobs numbers right. They matter for the Fed. They matter for markets. And they matter for our own understanding of the economy.

The BLS can, and should, do better.

This post originally appeared here:

The value of blogging and my favourite Twitter people in the world!

By Neil Patrick

Happy birthday to US!

I am writing this at the first anniversary of starting this blog.

I thought that it would be useful to share what I've discovered so that you can see for yourself what anyone could achieve in 12 months starting from scratch. I have absolutely nothing to brag about, but strangely few bloggers seem willing to share this stuff. Many people extol the benefits of blogging, but few talk about the numbers side of it. So, I thought it might be helpful to share my data and experience for anyone who is curious about the potential that blogs and social media offer for mature professionals.

Why did I do this?

I put up my first post here on 24 September 2012. I was a total rookie and had never blogged before. My blog posts came from three sources. About one third were written by guest posters, a further third were curated from mainstream and online media and all the rest I wrote myself. Since my first post, I have followed up with 263 more. That’s quite a lot compared to most bloggers it seems, but I am in a hurry; I’m driven by two main motivations:
  1. A desire to urgently inform mature professionals about how the career world has transformed without many of them really noticing and what they could do about it to protect their futures. 
  2. An intense curiosity to discover for myself if and how I could harness the power of social media to assist me achieve 1. above. 

What happened?

Well it’s now one year on and I have some answers.

I’ll start by sharing some headline numbers.

Total all-time hits on this blog are around 60,000 according to Blogger. Monthly hits on this blog are currently around 10,000. However, the biggest chunk (around 70%) of these ‘hits’ are not in fact reader views, they are hits by various ‘bots’ from Google, Twitter, Kred, Klout etc. The ‘real’ figures according to Google Analytics are currently around 2,500 - 3,000 human visits a month. Big difference huh? So the first point is do not trust the numbers of hits that are recorded by Blogger or Wordpress etc. Most of these are not human reader views.

At the same time I set up the blog, I also set up a Twitter account to support it and get the message out to anyone who might be interested in what I was doing. Currently, my Twitter following is around 6,200 followers. So on average, I'm getting roughly one blog view every two months per Twitter follower.

According to Beevolve, the average Twitter following is 208. So if you have more than that, you can give yourself a pat on the back! Interestingly, less than 0.5% of Twitter users have more than 5,000 followers. 

You can see these stats and more here:

According to statisticbrain, there were 554m Twitter users in July 2013, so the top 0.5% of Twitter users ranked by following is a whopping 2.8m people! Suddenly being in the top 0.5% doesn’t sound too impressive, but given this is hardly the sexiest or most entertaining blog in the world I’m totally amazed to have got so far so fast.

But the numbers alone don’t really tell the whole story. I am not chasing numbers for numbers’ sake. I think engagement is much more important. What’s the point of having hundreds of thousands or even millions of social media connections if you are not interacting with them?

This is where Klout and Kred come in. These both purport to measure online influence. My Klout score has reached 61 out of 100 and my Kred score is 785 out of 1000 for influence and 8 out of 12 for outreach. Before I started this blog, these were both zero or as close as makes no difference. If you want to know more about Kred and Klout and what they mean, I have written a post about it here:

And then there’s Linkedin. A year ago I had about 360 connections on Linkedin. Every single one was someone that I’d met at least once (and usually much more) face to face. People I’d worked with and done business with over the last 20 years or so. About six or seven of them had been kind enough to give me recommendations.

In all honesty, I used LinkedIn pretty much like many do…rather like a self-updating address book of all my real world business connections. And since I worked mostly inside that little bubble, my network was growing very slowly. I would receive about one invitation a month to connect if I was lucky…and most of these were from people I'd met face to face.

Fast forward to today. Every day now I get a new invitation to connect with someone new on Linkedin. Most days it’s several. And most of these are from the sort of people anyone would love to have in their network. Apart from creating lots of exciting new opportunities, this has also massively boosted my search ranking on Linkedin. Today if I search against the keywords for the type of work I do, I come out on page one of a Linkedin search within a radius of about 50 miles. This in turn means I am approached more and more frequently with great new opportunities. 

But numbers are not the most important thing…people are

But these numbers don’t reveal the reality of the situation. People and relationships are what this is all about, not statistics.

I want to share insights, information and knowledge that is relevant and that I hope will help people. I want to engage with people. I want to help them avoid the growing threats to their futures and achieve their goals.

Which brings me to what I think is the most incredible outcome of these last 12 months. It’s the sheer number and quality of people that who’ve chosen to connect with me with and who have responded positively to what I am doing.

They are as diverse as they are numerous. There are so many that I couldn’t possibly recount all the details of all the emails, DMs, tweets, phone calls, Skype and Google hangouts that have gone on. But I want here to publicly thank every single one of them that has inspired me, helped me, encouraged me, enlightened me and even just been nice to me.

Here they are. Every single one of these people is just wonderful and I have provided their Twitter handles too so if you wish, you can easily follow them on Twitter and engage with them yourself.

Awesome Recruiters:

Axel Koster @AxelKoster

Barbara Adams @CareerProGlobal

HRIS Jobs @hrisjobs

Ibro Palic @Ibro_Palic

Intellego Jobs @intellegojobs

Randstad USA @RandstadUSPros

Career and resume experts:

Debra Wheatman @DebraWheatman

Kerry Hannon @KerryHannon

Kim Marino @CareerCoachKim

Michelle Lopez @One2OneResumes

Tony Restell @tonyrestell

World class coaches:

Donna Svei @AvidCareerist

Fernado Ratkoczy @JobSearchCenter

Jacob Share @jacobshare

Jane Anderson @jane_anderson__

Awesome HR pros:

Anne Marinis @AnneMarinis

Jeremy Scrivens @JeremyScrivens

Karalyn Brown @InterviewIQ

Lisa Orrell @GenerationsGuru

Nicole Le Maire @NicoleLeMaire

Linkedin experts:

Koka Sexton @kokasexton

Stacy Donovan Zapar @StacyZapar

Great guest post writers:

Anna Pitts @annaepitts

Anthony Juliano @ajuliano

David Hunt @davidhuntpe

Jim Langendorf @jplang43

Ron Thomas @ronald_thomas

Brilliant bloggers:

Andrew Ginsburg @GinsburgJobs

David K Waltz @davidkwaltz

Deb Briceland-Betts @DBricelandBetts

Jason Poquette @jasonpoquette

Jesse Colombo @TheBubbleBubble

John Baldino @jbalive

Karen Austin @TheGenAboveMe

Leo Woodhead @thecareersblog

Marc Miller @CareerPivot

Marcia La Reau @ForwardMotionUS

Mary Eileen Williams @FeistySideFifty

The lifetime achievement award goes to:


Social media and tech experts:

The one and only…Gary Hyman! @GaryHyman

Special mention for support above and beyond the call of duty:

Yittah Lawrence @ITISAGR8DAY

And last but not least all these super kind people who have supported and encouraged me:

Abby Kohut @Absolutely_Abby

Angel Torres @angeltorres

Anke Gosch @ueberfliegernet

Anne Sachs @TheatreSmart

Anthony Sider @BudgetDude

Biggleswade JCP @BiggleswadeJCP

Buzz Brindle @BrindleMedia

Caroline Fabian @fabe_recruits

Corrina Wade @wade_corrina

Dave Kushan @DavidKushan

David Nicola @Capt_Careerist

Deepak Sharma @deepakmandi

Diana Schniedman @DianaSchneidman

Diane McWade @dianemcwade

Dionne Lew @DionneLew

Dr. Heather Dix @HeatherChizz

Elzbieta Jaworska @edjaworska

Fotis Tsoumanis @fotispersisting

Getrude Sawadye @getrudesawadye

Gul Nur Bilek @GulNurBilek

Hanna Hurley @hanna_hurley

Helen Fisher @HelenJFisher

Jacqueline Ktita @JacquelineKtita

Jeanette Barrowcliffe @J_Barrowcliffe

Jerome Holland @JeromeHolland1

John Hanna @johnhannagdp

John Siracusa @john_siracusa

Karen Julius @karenjulius

Karla Crawford @kklm7

Kimberlee Lockhart @Kimba_67

Les Floyd @Lesism

Luis Carlos de Paula @lcdepaula

Margie Miklas @MargieMiklas

Mark Affleck @markaffleck

Mark Seaden @MarkSeaden

Projectme @projectmeuk


Steve Leuck @AudibleRx

Wayne Miller @Affilipede

William Carrington @ColCarrington 

I only knew just one of these brilliant people one year ago (yes that's you John!). Today I am proud and flattered to count every one of them as a valued friend and supporter. My sincere thanks and appreciation goes out to each and every one of you. You are all awesome!

Which brings me to the most important point of all. When I started out just one year ago, I had no idea of where I’d be today. I had no clue if anyone was interested in what I thought or had to say.

The last year has shown me that social media can help anyone not only get their message out, it can connect you with people that not only share your beliefs, but also who are willing to share their valuable time, which is why I wanted to express my gratitude in this way.

And that’s the whole point, none of us knows everything. We never can and we never will. But through teamwork and helping others before ourselves, it’s possible to achieve extraordinary things. And that’s the power of social media. Finding and connecting us with the people that share our beliefs and values so we can create amazing things together.

I’m not promising that I can solve everyone’s problems, although I’ll try to help wherever I can and payback all the people who have helped me on my journey. I started out with a very simple idea. I just thought that too many mature professionals were blind to the career revolution that has swept away almost everything that we all grew up believing about work and careers. And this was a big threat to them. And I hoped that my modest insights could help make peoples’ futures a bit more secure and successful.

My work is far from done. But thanks to all of you, my commitment and belief in my mission has been cemented and will drive us forward to…who knows where?

Thank you all and I am now wondering where things will be a year from now. Personally I can’t wait to find out!

Happy birthday to US!

How employers are wrecking lives

By Linda McSweeny

Spring is upon us, Australia's collective well-being is booming, and our economy is the envy of the world. Yet far from enjoying the fruits of their labours, many workers - even those in well-paying professional jobs - are living in fear that their livelihoods may disappear.

Whether it be the post-Global Financial Crisis unemployment horror stories filtering through from overseas; the rapid rate of technological change that has meant workers can be "on tap" 24 hours a day, or the rapid pursuit of material benefits, many workers fear that the only way they can stay afloat is to work harder and longer - often at the expense of their health.

Psychologist Dr Tim Sharp says work-related angst in Australia is very real. He says the GFC has shaken the confidence of many workers, particularly in industries such as banking, but he also says the modernisation of the workplace means we no longer have "jobs for life" and people are struggling to adjust to this new reality.

Edward* is 40. He has two university degrees, a loving family, and what appears to be the textbook life he craved as a young boy. But beneath the rosy surface lies a man sweating about job security. The operations manager for a global company rarely switches off from work, toiling from home at night and on weekends, juggling his smartphone and laptop and waking in the small hours to answer phone calls from clients. He often can't sleep because work issues pull him from his slumber.

Edward rarely engages in social activities or sport but tries to spend any spare time interacting with his two young children and partner, who works part time. He contemplates scrambling out of his work-heavy hole but can't fathom an exit plan. He says he has already made one career switch and doesn't fancy another.

"I know it's not sustainable for myself or my family to keep working around the clock and fixating on the fear that I could lose my job, but if I say no to my boss when he needs me, he'll find somebody who will do it," Edward says. He admits his fears were heightened after he watched three of his close work colleagues made to move on from their jobs in recent months.

The fear of job loss is real, even in Australia's reasonable economic climate, and researchers say there's mounting evidence of mental health issues arising from organisational downsizing and global economic crises.

Tony*, a 30-something finance worker, says he works about 70 hours a week to ensure he maintains his "high performer" status. He's also responsible for implementing downsizing operations and sees firsthand scores of colleagues increasing their work hours and input and/or turning to alcohol to cope with the fear of being the next worker asked to leave.

"I know that if I overperform and stay ahead of the pack, I'll be reasonably safe, though you can never really be sure of these things," Tony says.

But he feels battered by the consistently long hours, work-related travel and reliance on alcohol to alleviate stress. "I'm in my mid-30s but I feel like I'm 50 actually, I honestly do."

Those employees left standing in organisations or industries facing cuts often start to show signs of mental and physical stress as they fear being the next one to find themselves unemployed, according to studies cited by University of NSW psychiatrist and Black Dog Institute researcher Dr Samuel Harvey. Some push themselves into productivity overdrive simply out of fear of job loss.

Downsizing may increase sick leave and the risk of death from cardiovascular disease in employees who keep their job, according to a paper in BMJ (the former British Medical Journal). The results of the study, conducted in four towns in Finland during a severe economic decline from 1991 to 1996, were so stark, the authors called on policymakers, employers and occupational health professionals to recognise that downsizing may pose a "severe risk to health".

There was a clear rise in suicides after the GFC of 2008, with almost 5000 more suicides - primarily men - across 54 countries in Europe, the Americas and Asia in 2009, according to a new study published in the British Medical Journal.

"We know that just being in fear of losing your job is also associated with poorer mental health. Those people who feel less secure in their job have higher rates of mental health symptoms and lower rates of mental well-being," Harvey says.

Goldman Sachs boss Lloyd Blankfein recently highlighted what he saw as a mismatch between Australia's economic status and the attitude of its workforce.

"I've been coming here for a long, long time and during the past two decades of growth, growth, growth, people are always distraught, overwrought, wringing their hands about how horrible things are and, to my observation, they don't look that bad."

Real or imagined, a perception of job losses affects productivity, stress levels and family life, and researchers are trying to find evidence on which tools are best to help people deal with their fears, such as e-health and resilience programs supported by employers.

"What drives that perception is sometimes reality, but it's sometimes more about that individual and their way of viewing the world and their place within it. Some people are just worriers and we know that's a risk for mental health problems. But there's a lot of work going on now about whether you can help people build their levels of resilience and teach them techniques to alter the way they view some of these risks and the extent to which they ruminate on them," Harvey says.

Employers are being urged to help with the mental health of workers via the Mentally Healthy Workplace Alliance partnership between business, community and government. One of its aims is to find out what works and what doesn't when it comes to a mentally healthy workplace.

"Sometimes [job losses] have to happen, but certainly if people pause and think about the way they happen and the support given to individuals, we might be able to prevent some of these problems," Harvey says.

Sharp says the first step for workers is to seek information from their employer if they fear job loss to ensure they know what they're dealing with. Sometimes they can improve their performance, but other times, it may be beyond their control while an organisation seeks to downsize. For employers, they should reassure their workforce as best they can, to give employees a sense of security and stability.

Job loss was real for Sydneysider Nigel Marsh, who found himself "fat, 40 and fired" in 2003 and was so affected by the upheaval, he wrote a book about his experience, which is poised to become a TV series.

"For me, it was absolutely devastating," Marsh says. "I was a 40-year-old man with four children under the age of five and a wife who didn't have a job, so I thought my life was over. I thought I may never work again. It was totally devastating."

Marsh says he had an inkling of impending doom when talk of a merger involving the company that employed him began. Since the release of his book, he has received harrowing emails about people's job-loss stories in a society that he says glorifies overwork.

"You get this thing where people say, for example, 'Oh Amanda, she's so wonderful, she's always the first in, she's always the last to leave, she works every weekend, and she never takes any of her holidays', and you go, 'Well why are we holding that up as heroic when it's moronic or tragic?' It shouldn't be held up as, 'Oh yippee!', it should be seen as sad. Let's give her some help," Marsh says.

While his situation felt disastrous when it happened, the job loss gave him time to change his life. He took a redundancy package, wrote his book, lost weight, got fit, gave up alcohol and became more present in his family's life. He says any anxiety he has about job loss is now manageable.

"I've embraced the fear. I've tried to turn anxiety into anticipation. Until 40, I was taking a conventional approach to work; since then, I've been trying a different route," says Marsh, who now works in the corporate world, as well as being the author of three books, founder of the Sydney Skinny swim event, and a public speaker.

The key for employers to help in the mental health of their workers is to share information and ensure there are no surprises, says the University of Sydney's Workplace Research Centre director, Professor John Buchanan.

"If people get advanced notice, it makes a huge difference to their capacity to adjust and minimise the negative impact," he says.

*Names withheld

Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/lifestyle/life/when-the-work-day-never-ends-20130920-2u42c.html#ixzz2fi3gI2Kf

The Fed keeps the insane party going and why this is bad news for (nearly) all of us

By Neil Patrick

Investors have been stressing since the spring about the autumn prospect of Ben Bernanke printing just a few dollars less than before. Whole economies, like India, have wobbled before the threat that the Fed might print ‘just’ $75bn a month instead of $85bn.

And just as they were getting used to the idea, he goes and bails out at the last minute. This astonished almost everyone.What is going on?

Is this what Bernanke wants to leave behind?

I don’t wish to sound smug, but I wasn't as surprised as some people by this latest Fed stunt.

Why? Well primarily because the U.S. economy remains so weak that there are serious risks in actually initiating this move. Of course, the time must come when the Fed will begin to reduce its dollar printing. It seemed fair to assume that with all the advance warnings, the markets had already priced it in. And so I suspected the Fed might be much less aggressive than almost everyone anticipated.

But you can easily argue that the financial markets have become so accustomed to the Fed’s easy money policy that the quantitative easing (QE) addiction is now seriously ingrained. In other words, the stock market has consumed so much booze that the hangover will be so severe that it’s really preferable (not to say easier) to stay drunk.

However, I did think they would at least do something. After all, the market has been given so long to get used to this idea.

If the Fed actually ever intends to stop printing money, now looked a good time to make at least a small gesture in that direction. Even a 'tiny' reduction of $5bn would not have upset the markets too much, and would start getting them used to a slightly more sober environment with just a little less QE.

But no. Even with US stock markets at a record high, $5bn was too much for Bernanke. The Fed will keep printing $85bn a month…for now. And there’s no obvious prospect of this changing before the end of the year.

Markets were both stunned and cheered. Hurrah…even more free money! Gold soared. Emerging markets jumped, developed markets too. Pretty much everything jumped except the US dollar.

The Fed provided a few excuses for its inaction. It doesn't like the fact that bond yields have jumped so quickly in recent months. It’s worried about the impact of this on the housing recovery. And there’s also the threat of another big crisis over government spending, as the debt ceiling hovers ever closer.

As Paul Ashworth of Capital Economics pointed out, the Fed is probably “also increasingly concerned… that Congress could trigger a Federal shutdown within the next month.”

But if Ben’s really worried about the politicians not getting their fingers out to try and agree on something, then he should take away the security blanket of less QE. As Heidi Moore noted yesterday, he should “force the economy, the markets and Congress to think for themselves.”

So it’s all a load of shabby excuses. If this proves anything, it’s that Ben Bernanke doesn’t want to be remembered as the man who pulled the plug on the recovery too early, plunging the US into the Great Depression of the 2010s.

I guess he’d rather risk being remembered as the guy who acted too late to prevent the Hyperinflationary Collapse of the 2020s…

So what can we expect to see now?

It seems reasonable to assume from this that when it eventually happens, the actual process of tapering will be slow and gradual with the goal of minimizing any potential market disruptions.

But this is exactly where the difficulty lies. After all, everyone knows that the Fed cannot continue expanding the money supply at the current rate. Therefore, the challenge is how to taper with the least amount of market disruption.

I suspect this will include an increase in market ‘signals’ from the Fed to gauge the market’s reaction to various possible Fed actions and having contingency plans in place to try to control any unforeseen reactions and consequences which arise.

Tapering will mean higher interest rates

Most believe that tapering will result in an increase in interest rates, especially at the higher risk end of the market (like your mortgage, especially if it’s large or your earnings and credit history are anything less than dazzling). So, in this scenario, the housing market recovery could be stopped dead in its tracks.

Some claim that the delay on the part of the Fed may be politically motivated as it helps the Democrats by keeping interest rates low. Only a few people actually know the truth. The rest of us are left to speculate.

So, if the Fed does eventually get around to tapering, interest rates rise, the housing market recovery stalls, and the federal government deficit and debt spike, at election time, the Republicans will surely have all fingers pointed at the Democrats.

However, since the Republicans couldn't pull off victory in the last presidential election when the unemployment rate was at 8.2%, and given that Obama was the first incumbent in the modern era to be re-elected when the unemployment rate was above 8.0%, I’m not convinced that the Republicans would automatically benefit.

But the fact remains that higher interest rates will hurt everyone. Everyone that is except investors who rely on interest income.

So what does all this mean for most of us?

Even when the Fed does eventually begin to taper, I think they will remain “highly accommodative.” In other words, they will not raise short-term interest rates sharply for quite some time. Recently, when the Fed merely hinted that they might begin to taper, stocks sold off sharply.

So when will the Fed begin to taper? Some say December, but that’s during the holiday season, a period when the economy typically sees a brief uplift. This seasonality makes it difficult to determine if the economy is really healing or just experiencing a Christmas boost. Therefore, even though it’s possible the Fed will taper later this year, I don’t believe they will until at least 2014.

Despite the fact that many U.S. stock markets are reaching record highs, investors need to have a plan in place to protect themselves against a very possible and very nasty collapse. We are a long way from being out of the woods yet. In the interim, with GDP under 2.0%, stock values are continuing with their unwarranted inflation and I think the prospect of a severe correction in equity values just keeps on getting more and more frightening.

So investors need to keep a sharp eye on their assets and protect them against the very real threat of a severe market correction. Keep in mind that at some point, the Fed must take away the punch bowl, the party will end, and the probability of a collapse in not just stock values but other asset classes too is high. Really high.

What does this mean for investments, jobs and your financial future?

If you are an investor, hold your course. If you were happy with what you were doing before the 'vapor taper', you’ll be fairly pleased this week – almost everything you own has gone up in value (for now). Cheap Eurozone stocks still look good, Japan is still doing the business, and if you still have any, you should hang on to gold, specifically as a hedge against the real risk of systemic collapse which hasn't retreated from view.

But I wouldn't expect an easy ride in the coming months. Once the delusional euphoria of ‘QE forever’ wears off, there are going to be a lot of confused investors in the markets. As Eric Green at TD Securities told the FT: “The Fed had the market precisely where it needed to be.” This delay ” “ultimately makes that first step in the tapering process harder to achieve.(My emphasis)

It also puts a lot of pressure on Mark Carney at the Bank of England. On the one hand, Mr Carney will be pleased. The Fed’s 'vapor taper' might take some of the pressure off global interest rates in the short term. On the other hand, the slump in the dollar has pushed sterling higher. Carney won’t be too happy about that.

Anyway, what does this all mean for the outlook for most of us? Not investors with big investment portfolios but people with normal jobs and normal financial commitments. You probably know what I’m going to say.

The impact of this for business and hence jobs is hardly encouraging. The outlook for federal sector employment remains bleak and only confident growth in the private sector can offset this. But whilst share prices continue to inflate, significant GDP growth and business confidence remain elusive. So while growth in earnings remains subdued, employers will remain cautious about increasing workforce overheads.

We are likely to see a continued expansion of all the things employees dread like short term contracts, outsourcing, cut backs on management and support teams, in other words, growth in low paid, short term jobs, but contraction of secure, well paid jobs.

So we can all expect our basic costs of living to keep on rising at a scary rate amidst a really tough job market. And as I've talked about previously, slashing our outgoings, reducing our borrowings and increasing our income level through the acquisition of income generating assets is now more important than ever.

The crazy Fed party will end soon hopefully with a whimper not a bang.

4 tips to enhance your professional relationships with a LinkedIn “audit”

By Anthony Juliano 

I wrote this for the Greater Fort Wayne Chamber of Commerce Emphasis blog after presenting at this year’s Chamber Social Media Summit. Have you taken a close look at your connections lately?

One of my favorite things about LinkedIn is the degree to which it serves as an inventory of each user’s professional relationships. In one location, at a glance, we can see who we’re connected to and evaluate the strength of that connection. This allows us to do something incredibly simple while also incredibly powerful: we can “audit” our professional relationships to see whether there may be an opportunity to strengthen a connection. This is something I try to do every few months, and it usually reveals opportunities I may have missed otherwise.

What are the keys to making this audit worthwhile? Here are a few tips:

  • Put it on your calendar, giving yourself at least an hour. A LinkedIn relationship audit could easily fall into the “when I get around to it” pile if you don’t make it a priority. Putting it on your calendar serves as a commitment of sorts, making it more likely it will happen. It’s also important to allot enough time to the task. An hour may be adequate depending on how many connections you have, but you may need even more time. 
  • Focus on the task at hand. Closely study each connection’s profile to understand what opportunities may exist for you to strengthen your relationships. Don’t skip anyone; some of what you discover may surprise you. Has a connection changed jobs? Have they joined any groups that might reveal a shared interest? Have they posted any status updates that open the door to a conversation? Approach this effort like an archeologist would approach a dig site, meticulously looking for artifacts of value. 
  • Use “tags” to identify actions to take in the future. LinkedIn allows you to “tag” your connections in a way that makes them sortable beyond the search feature. Use this to categorize contacts based on actions you want to take in the future. For example, let’s say you want to have lunch with some of the connections with whom you’ve lost touch. You’ll only be able to schedule so many lunches immediately, of course, but you can always plan ahead. Apply a “lunch” tag to those contacts you want to meet up with and revisit it every couple weeks and you’ll continue benefitting from your audit long after it’s completed. 
  • Keep score. To get the most out of your audit, make sure you measure success. How many of your connections did you reach out to? How many responded? Most importantly, what opportunities did you realize that may not have otherwise emerged? Evaluating the outcome will help you make this effort even more worthwhile in the future. 

Conducting a LinkedIn audit may seem daunting when you consider everything else already on your to-do list. Look at it this way, however: nothing in your professional life is more important than relationships. Why not take the time, then, to make them a little stronger?

Anthony Juliano is an experienced LinkedIn trainer and strategy consultant. He has developed and taught several LinkedIn classes, presented about LinkedIn at national conferences, and provided LinkedIn training for a wide variety of individuals and businesses. Anthony writes a monthly column about social media for Greater Fort Wayne Business Weekly and has written about LinkedIn for a variety of publications and blogs, including Convince and Convert, “the world’s #1 content marketing resource.” Anthony approaches his work with one simple goal: to help others understand today’s changing communication environment.

USA: The jobs crisis carries on and our ‘leaders’ have no solutions

By Neil Patrick

I get really cross when I read pronouncements from regulators and bankers about the recession. The members of both groups are securely cosseted from actually feeling any of the real effects themselves. And each blames the other for the crisis. Regulators blame poor bank governance, bankers cite excessive and disruptive government interventions.

I believe both are right actually. It’s not rocket science to work out that these are not mutually exclusive. One does not preclude the other.

It’s actually a rather cosy mutual support mechanism, enabling each to pass responsibility to the other, whilst happily continuing to pursue their own self-interest.

But we need to look forwards not just backwards to restore growth to the US.

On Sunday, the former Federal Reserve Vice Chair, Roger Ferguson admitted the US economy is still suffering "lingering effects" from the financial crisis. Growth he said was too "modest" to bring down unemployment or increase labor force participation at a satisfactory pace.

(Well said Roger; we hadn’t actually noticed that).

We need to remind you who the bad people are (and that’s not us).

Of course, Ferguson did not offer any monetary or fiscal policy prescriptions for accelerating economic growth as he accepted the National Association for Business Economics' annual Adam Smith Award. Instead, he focused on the need to restore public trust in the financial sector and to improve corporate governance.

(That’s right Roger, this recession has nothing to do with out of control government debt, it’s those greedy heartless bankers we need to blame).

Ferguson has been mentioned as a possible successor to Ben Bernanke. Currently president and CEO of financial services firm TIAA-CREF, Ferguson told the NABE's annual meeting "we have continued on a path of modest growth in the U.S., and while we all would wish for more, it is a far better scenario than we might have imagined five years ago today."

(That’s really great news Roger, thanks).

Of course we cannot risk upsetting the (massively overvalued) equities markets…

He also said the "still-modest growth" pace - 2.5% in the second quarter but less than 2% so far in the third quarter - should not be viewed as acceptable. He said, “it serves as a reminder that today, five years on from some of the darkest days of the financial crisis, we continue to deal with its lingering effects."

"The unemployment rate remains stubbornly high and labor force participation low. The markets have been volatile in the face of concerns about the Fed's tapering plans."

…much better to continue devaluing the dollar

Although he mentioned concerns about the Fed "tapering" its large-scale asset purchases, Ferguson did not say how he thinks the Fed should proceed in scaling back its $85 billion a month in "quantitative easing" or how monetary policy could be applied to stimulate growth.

Rather, he said "it would be wise to turn our collective energies to ensuring that we never have to endure a crisis like that again."

(That’s right Roger, we need lots more regulation to ensure we only get the right sort of growth).

And the solution is…lots more regulation

Although reams of financial service regulations have been implemented in connection with the Dodd-Franks Act, with more to come, Ferguson said "they are not enough."

(No that’s right Roger, our financial institutions need lots more government bureaucracy to make sure they cannot ever again become a burden to the government but only fill the government coffers with lots of ‘good’ money).

"It's equally important to further improve corporate governance at financial firms," he said. "We need stronger and more effective corporate governance approaches, particularly at the institutions that have been deemed systemically important.

The need for better "governance" in the financial services industry is underscored by what he called "a widespread lack of trust" in financial firms and by Americans' "angst" over their retirement prospects.

(Erm…isn’t that the same lack of trust that people have for politicians and regulators Roger?)

Ferguson said "it's vital that Americans regain trust in the financial services industry, because the industry is simply too important to our economy and our global competitiveness to be looked on so warily by so many people."

In saying "weak corporate governance" lay at the root of the financial crisis, Ferguson was referring to, among other things, commercial banks' increased "involvement in risky trading activities; growth in securitized credit; increased leverage; failure of banks to manage financial risks; inadequate capital buffers, and a misplaced reliance on complex math and credit ratings in assessing risk."

(I accept these are huge failings, but if you constantly point them out to the media, how will that help restore the much needed trust you talk about?).

We’ll tell you how to run your business

Ferguson highlighted recommendations of the Group of 30, an international forum of public- and private-sector financial leaders of which he is a member:

"First, we urge boards to take a long-term view that encourages long-term value creation in the interest of shareholders ... "Second, we urge management to model the right kind of behavior and to support a culture that promotes long-term thinking, discipline, sound risk management, and accountability ...

"Third, we urge regulators and supervisors to take a broader view of their roles, one that includes understanding the overall business, strategy, people, and culture of the firms they oversee ...

(Well said Roger…even though this is the only new and constructive thing I’ve heard you say).

"And finally, we urge long-term shareholders to use their influence to keep companies honest about performance and focused on improving governance."

I apologise for my mockery of Mr Ferguson,but…

Actually I am being hard on Mr Ferguson here. But he's more than big enough to take it I think and he's the one winning the awards not me. I think most of the things he describes are good aspirations. But great vision is one thing, effective execution is totally another. And little of the above actually helps solve the problem that is slowly killing the US every day it continues.

We need at least as much focus on driving an equitable recovery and household income growth as we do on looking backwards and learning the lessons of the past. And that means a really constructive dialogue between government and business, not just a witch hunt and lots more regulators and rules.

Why it's a LIE that olders workers are taking jobs from the young (pt2)

By Neil Patrick

This morning I was disappointed to read the article below from the Denver Post which promotes the notion that work opportunities for the young are being ‘stolen’ by older workers in Colorado.

Titled misleadingly, ‘Youths hit hard as older workers claim most new jobs’, the Denver Post article claims to show that mature workers are ‘stealing’ the job opportunities from the young. It even includes an apparently persuasive graph to 'prove' the point.

Of course this is all nonsense and I've provided the full transcript below for you to judge for yourself.

Granted, it’s a pleasingly convenient idea to grab when you look at the graph below, but as with so many news stories, it doesn’t actually tell the whole truth.

In fact it even contradicts the some of the key findings of the Report it cites, the Express Employment Professionals' white paper. This paper stated that, ‘The first Boomers turned 60 in 2006, so no one is surprised that they’re retiring. The size of this generation, which comprises 26.4 percent of the population and makes up the largest percentage of the workforce in the U.S. at 38 percent, is producing an increase in the retirement rate, impacting the labor force simultaneously”.

So it is clear that because of the large size of the baby boomer group, retirements in the US are actually increasing. If this is true, how can they also be taking jobs from the young? How can we reconcile these apparent contradictions?

Actually when we dig a little deeper, it’s not too hard to find the truth:

  1. The fall in the level of workforce participation by the young can be directly attributed to increased numbers staying in education, the increase in those that have given up looking for work and the fact that many are choosing to stay at home, eased by ‘subsidies’ by their parents and others. To quote the Express Employment Report directly, “There are an estimated 1.8 million young adults who are not in the labor force because they have given up on job hunting for the time being”.
  2. The article identifies two ‘outcomes’ i.e. the stable rate of labor force participation by older workers and the falling rate of employment amongst the young and assumes that the former is causing the latter. This isn't a causal relationship - one has not caused the other, so it is inaccurate to state that ‘older workers are claiming most new jobs’. 
  3. The data is based on LFPR (Labor Force Participation Rate). This has absolutely nothing to do with job hirings. It is simply a measure of the proportion of people within a given group that are in paid employment. The LFPR for a group can rise or fall without anyone changing their job, simply by the number of people in that group changing for any reason e.g. retirement or emigration. 
  4. Similarly, the growth in employment numbers for any given group doesn't equate to new jobs being filled; it has as much or more to do with the numbers that actually do not leave employment as it does with those that gain it. So for example if the numbers in employment increase in any given period, this number is the result of the net outcome of people joining and leaving the workforce. It does not equate to new jobs being filled.

So what is actually happening is that mature workers’ labor force participation is being stabilized by a balancing between a shrinkage of the group due to increasing numbers of retirees and others working longer and delaying retirement. Meanwhile, the LFPR by the young is falling due to low growth in the parts of economy generating jobs for which the young are qualified and a growth in those who are either staying in education or have given up looking for work.

Hardly the same story as the headline is it? And it’s the sort of sensationalist argument promoting inter-generational resentment that we don't need. Neither does it highlight the real issues which are nothing to do with age and everything to do with restoring real growth to the US economy.

Anyway, here’s the full story as it appeared in the Denver Post last weekend.

Youths hit hard as older workers claim most new jobs

By Aldo Svaldi The Denver Post

Welcome to the brave new labor force, where the young struggle to find a job, the old delay retirement and a shrinking share of the population is working.

"We have an actively disengaged portion of the population, and the implications are far reaching," said David Lewis, an executive with Express Employment Professionals, which put out a white paper on the topic last week.

Back in 2000, nearly half of 16- to 19-year-olds were employed in Colorado, and eight in 10 of those age 20 to 24 worked. But in 2012, fewer than three in 10 teenagers were employed and only 64.2 percent of those in their early 20s, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

At the other end of the demographic curve, employment among 55- to 64-year-olds in the state went from 60.8 percent employment to 64.8 percent over the same period. Among those 65 and older, it went from about 12 percent to 18.8 percent in 2012.

Since employment levels bottomed out in December 2009, workers age 55 and older have claimed nearly three out of four new jobs created in the U.S., according to the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

They were claiming about 84 percent of the jobs created in the 12 months through April, the center reports.

A look at unemployment rates disproves the myth that older workers were hit hardest by the recession, said Alexandra Hall, the state's chief labor economist.

Those age 55 to 64 in Colorado had a 6.8 percent unemployment rate last year. The unemployment rate among teenagers was at 26.2 percent.

The greater participation of older workers, including those past traditional retirement age, bucks the overall trend of fewer people working or looking for work with each passing year.

"Overall labor force participation rates will continue to decline as they have since 2000, through 2040," forecasts Cindy DeGroen, the state's director of population and economic forecasting.

People on either end of the age curve have more options when it comes to not working, which is why those groups are seeing some of the biggest shifts, Hall said.

One key explanation for fewer young adults working is that more of them are going to college, which is a positive for the economy, she said.

But even those with four-year college degrees are increasingly finding themselves underemployed, said futurist Tom Frey, executive director of the DaVinci Institute in Louisville.

About half of college graduates last year are holding jobs that don't require a degree, and about 35 percent are trying to start their own businesses, he said.

Some of the decline in youth employment is tied to a lack of opportunities, as older workers take jobs that traditionally would have gone to younger workers.

Some of it is also generational. Millennials, those age 18 to 30, are more optimistic than their elders about their employability, despite the difficult economy.

About 62 percent are confident of the possibility of a career, making them much less willing to settle for a "job," according to survey released Thursday by employment search provider Monster Worldwide.

"They believe they are worth more than the market does, especially if they graduate with a liberal-arts degree," Lewis said.

Lewis said that a third of millennials were raised by single parents, and many have tight familial bonds, making them less willing to move for an opportunity and more comfortable living at home.

Hall said the labor statistics show young adults, despite getting a later start, increasingly join the ranks of the employed by age 25 and beyond. The employment rate in Colorado among those age 25 to 34 is 78.3 percent.

But delayed entry into the workforce carries a cost, especially when it comes to developing what labor experts refer to as the soft skills, things like dependability, problem solving, professionalism and the ability to communicate with co-workers.

"They are getting older, but they are not very skilled because they haven't had a chance to work," Frey said.

At the other extreme are baby boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, who find themselves, either by choice or necessity, working far longer than previous generations.

"You need more money to support a longer life span," DeGroen said of the group that has been called the healthiest and wealthiest generation.

Two severe bear markets in equities and one in real estate, not to mention low interest rates, have prevented many baby boomers from building the nest eggs they needed to retire.

Retirees over age 65 in Colorado are replacing, on average, about 56.5 percent of their pre-retirement income instead of the 70 percent that financial advisers recommend, according to astudy from Interest.com.

And a growing number of seniors in the country, about 338,000 of those over age 60, have financial responsibility for their grandchildren, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Still, even at 20 percent, the share of those 65 and older employed is only a fourth of the level seen among "prime age" workers, those from age 25 to 54.

Given that they can't work forever, one unknown is whether the accelerating departure of the baby boomers from the workforce will create opportunities for young adults.

"As employers have more demand for labor and bid up what they are willing to pay, workers will come into the workforce," Hall said.

Economist Lawrence Mishel, at the Economic Policy Institute, argues that the federal government should create a temporary five-year program to allow retirement at age 60 and above.

"Get them out of the way and let younger people have jobs," he said.

Colorado, which has one of the highest concentrations of baby boomers of any state, will see the number of residents over age 65 triple between 2000 and 2030, according to the state demographer's office.

But there are those who argue that demographics aren't the key factor. Labor markets are undergoing a fundamental shift that is changing the very definition of work and a job.

"We are becoming much more a free-agent and freelance society," said Frey.

The overhead costs for a full-time employee now average $10,000 a person, and employers remain reluctant to add to their workforce, he said.

Young adults simply have no choice but to become more entrepreneurial and flexible in how they make their living, he said.


Is this career suicide?

By Neil Patrick

We hear so much about the explosion of social media and how it’s changing the world, that it’s easy to think that everyone is involved.

Think again.

Naturally enough I whenever I meet my close personal friends, we inevitably discuss how their work is going. If I think about these guys, all of whom I've known for years (okay, decades) and who are all switched on, well educated professionals, I am constantly perplexed by the fact that they just don’t get social media at all.

I should start by saying that this is a very small and skewed sample. All of them are aged 50ish, and employed. They are all male and they all work in the UK. So this isn't in any way reliable research ‘data’. But they are a good sample of the type of people I am trying to help with this blog.

One is a lawyer, another is a mental health worker, one is a CEO, one is a senior civil servant, one is an accountant, and another works for a medical equipment company. Six middle-aged guys all accomplished professionals in their fields.

Every one of them depends on their job for all or nearly all their income. Sure, some have working partners, but in no case does their partner’s income exceed their own.

Firstly, none of them use Facebook. I actually think that’s fine. I don’t use it either simply because I consider it to be more or less irrelevant to my career interests. You may have a different opinion about Facebook, but essentially I consider it a low priority because I think it is really a platform for friends and family relationships, not professional ones.

LinkedIn is of course the only really serious social media site for professional networking. Of these six friends, only one has more than 500 LinkedIn connections and a 100% complete profile. Two have no LinkedIn profile at all. The other three all have fewer than 100 connections and don’t even have a photo on their profile. They very rarely even look at LinkedIn.

Moving on to Twitter, not one of them has a Twitter account. And you’ll not be surprised either that none of them has a blog.

So these guys are all pretty much not participating in the social media revolution. Even my friend who has over 500 LinkedIn connections is what I call a ‘passive’ user. His use of LinkedIn is really more or less just as a self-updating address book.

So what are the reasons for their decision to not participate?

The most common one, is, “I just don’t have the time for that”. The second is that they cannot see how it can possibly be of value to them. The third is that they generally have no idea of how they can leverage the power of social media.

But slowly (very slowly) they are waking up. What I have found in recent months is that more and more of them have moved on from their default position of the last few years, which was, “that’s a waste of time” and, “I’ve got better things to do”, to “Yes, I know it’s important, but I really don’t know what to do”.

So they are showing signs of acceptance of the way things have changed, but remain in denial, having changed their excuse from, “It’s not important”, to “I don’t know how to do it”.

I find I am having more and more discussions with them about how to leverage their LinkedIn profiles. But mostly, they are carrying on as before, making huge assumptions about how they ought to use social media, and generally getting it wrong in the process.

One of them recently lost his job in a reorganization. He was one of the guys that had no LinkedIn profile at all. Naturally I am doing all I can to help him recover from this situation. But I am sorry to report we have no good news yet.

Can I say that if he’d had a LinkedIn profile he’d not be in this situation? No, that would be naïve. It wouldn't have prevented him losing his job. And it wouldn't guarantee that he would find another one completely effortlessly.

But I am sure that if he had developed a strong personal online brand, a global network of relevant business contacts and a position as a go-to expert in his field, he’d have infinitely better prospects than he has right now.

I actually do consider him to be a real expert in his field. But just about the only people that know about that are he and I. So right now, we are facing an uphill struggle. He’s missed the train and the next one coming is going to be really slow.

He’s a survivor and a fighter though and so I think he’ll recover eventually, but this is sadly a big problem, when it so easily might just have been a little blip, or quite possibly a massive opportunity.

So, he’s now fighting for survival with dwindling personal financial resources and no significant opportunities on the horizon.

In some ways, it’s the stories of these guys and the many others just like them that I know, that have been an inspiration for me in writing this blog. Mind you I know also none of them read it...
plus ça change...