While visions of Reality TV and sexual athletics may be dancing through my head in the early a.m. – as I am extricating myself from dreams – within a few minutes of brewing my coffee and scanning a few headlines, other thoughts quickly take precedence.
In keeping with yesterday’s theme – the “human” side of our fractured economy – I offer another article found online, this time on Yahoo Finance. And to some degree, it’s the appropriate companion to my comment about those who are not yet ready for retirement, but scared – about making it through the next week or to the end of the month. Scared about surviving.
Thoughts of the theoretical golden years? Not on the radar. Not even close.
Take a look at Why the Middle-Aged are Missing Out on New Jobs – and in case that doesn’t concern you, may I mention that these stats start middle-age at a mere 35?
And if you’re in this group – struggling to keep a job or find one, underemployed and hoping it will get better – then are you concerned?
Can’t help myself. I always question the data on any study, and the agenda that sits, unseen, behind its particular spin. Might its purpose be to persuade us? To scare us? Or nudge us politically closer to the red or the blue? To genuinely inform us?
The article I mention originated in US News and World Report – on April 1st. It did not cite a source for its statistics that I could find (who says journalism is dying?) – so perhaps it was all a prank?
Still, consider these points made by the writer:
“The overall job market is clearly healing, but middle-aged workers aren’t part of the revival. Workers between the ages of 45 and 54 are still losing jobs on net, with a decline of about 364,000 jobs in this age group so far this year. That seems remarkable–and worrisome–given that these are people in their prime earning years, and they also ought to be at peak levels of expertise in their fields or careers.”
“Workers between 35 and 44 have picked up 158,000 jobs so far this year, but that’s still weak growth, and overall this group is still down 143,000 jobs since the end of 2009, when the overall job market started to turn up. The weak job prospects for workers between 35 and 54 has major implications for the whole nation, because in general these are the workers supporting middle-class families (or trying to).”
Taking the simplest interpretation, that these figures are more or less accurate and we should prepare ourselves accordingly, what then of this news for the 35 to 54 segments? Don’t dare to quit your job? Try your hand at entrepreneurship? Don’t rock the boat in your marriage or you may find yourself in a worse financial mess?
And the fact that traditionally, this is the demographic which feeds economic growth? Aren’t you just a little worried?
Cake or Credit Cards
As for myself and my little family, such as it is, a nasty divorce which coincided with a corporate layoff set my spiral downward into motion. That was a decade ago. Our slide down has slowed at moments, but the direction hasn’t changed – only the speed of the fall. And as part of that 44 to 54 age group, let’s say that the economy and my age have been problematic.
While I’ve been thrilled (and grateful) to have some project work in recent months, it is a stop gap measure that slows the spiral; the bleed continues, as does the descent. With no child support (there – I am saying the words explicitly), and having just spent a few thousand on the college application process (not in the UnBudget, of course), I am counting down – again – even with the project work, to returning to eating on credit cards rather than cash because that will be the only means to stretch out the period of time to keep a roof over our heads.
Don’t Air Your Dirty Laundry, etc.
I am a proponent of the “Don’t air your dirty laundry on the Internet” school of thought. But here’s the dilemma: If we don’t tell the truth of our stories, in as measured a fashion as possible, then how do we impart our experience to potentially help someone else so they don’t suffer from the same mistakes? The same assumptions? How do we rally to address social ills if we don’t stand up to be counted?
Can’t anger – appropriately directed – serve to assist in fighting for improvements? Isn’t silence a form of impotence, and how can impotence help any of us?
Yet there are certain things I would never say; I no longer write behind the same thick cloak of anonymity that I once did. That was a choice, in order to have credibility when writing beyond this little platform – at Forbes or Huffington Post for example. But I still must balance that with the reality that my sons occasionally read, that I would never want to hurt or embarrass them, and also – that potential clients might read. And my ability to keep a roof over our heads and food on the table depends upon a certain face – a professional, competent, and successful face.
35? Feeling Creaky?
So what of the others in the 35 to 44 bracket, or the 45 to 54 bracket? And older? What of all of us who are legitimately afraid to reveal our ages in anything other than a whisper, because it’s already damn difficult to find work of any sort?
Do we channel our anger? Surrender to impotence? Accept incomplete information? What is the answer? At what point will the fatigue and stress of living this way take its toll, as if it hasn’t already? And what of the waste for our country – the drag on all our systems, and the skills and experience that could be brought to bear in some contributory fashion?
- Are you employed? Is your spouse employed?
- Are you trying to keep your head down and hang on to that income?
- Are you working multiple jobs just to get by?
- Is entrepreneurship the answer, or a smokescreen?