jrrosskampweb.jpgNationwide, unemployment is at 6.1 percent. U.S. Bureau of Labor data point to an alarming 10.7 percent jobless rate for black Americans, 30.1 percent for black teens.  Official August numbers will be released Friday, Sept. 19, at 10 a.m.              

As of July 2008, state jobless rates for workers of all races had soared: 8.5 percent in Michigan, 7.9 percent in Mississippi, 7.7 percent in Rhode Island, 7.3 percent in California and Illinois, 7.2 percent in Ohio, and 6.9 percent in Alaska.  Only South Dakota had a 3.0 percent rate.            

Among Florida’s 9,425,647 workers, 6.4 percent had no jobs in July 2008, up from a low of 3.4 percent in 2000.           

Will it get worse?  Yes, with inflation or further financial sector meltdown.  Interest rates may be cut to zero percent, as occurred in Japan’s banking crisis.  

Inflation fueled the 1982 recession, idling 18.2 percent in West Virginia, nearly 17 percent in Michigan, and 14 percent in Ohio.  Today, West Virginia’s 4.5 percent jobless rate is commendable.  

Employment data are often revised, and nuanced.  Part-timers are “employed,” though many need full-time work. What will happen when military reservists and enlisted officers re-enter the civilian workforce?                

What is taking jobs?  Global competitiveness, financial market upheaval, economic dislocation of the unskilled, and housing devaluation unseen in 70 years.   

The U.S. has lost some 3.5 million manufacturing jobs since 2001, and new job creation has been abysmal. A lesson:  Capital flows toward the most efficient labor and technology.  Wal-Mart, the world’s largest company, with annual revenues of $379 billion, employs 2 million to sell goods largely manufactured elsewhere at prices attractive to consumers.  That formula creates annual profits of $12.7 billion.  

Exxon Mobil, with $373 billion in revenues, is first in profits—at $40.6 billion, the largest ever for any company.  These diverse giants are in business for gain. 
Supplying what the consumer wants, and can afford, provides jobs:  Toyota’s sales are up 6 percent, GM’s down 3 percent.   

There are no job guarantees in free-market economies.  Labor is becoming a commodity sourced from a world pool.  Government’s role is to regulate the financial sectors which service and provide credit to corporations, homeowners, entrepreneurs, investors and savers.  Trust is the underpinning of capital formation.  An economy cannot expand in an arena of corruption, political self-dealing, unfair taxation and regulatory sloppiness.     

And workers must think like employers, acquiring skills needed by a U.S. determined to lead in technology and innovation.    

Charles Miller, CEO of People 2.0, Inc., a provider of bundled services to staffing companies in more than 30 states, is an expert in employment and labor demographics.      

“In most industries, the battle for talent is fierce, and will increase as baby boomers exit the workforce.   Quality companies are always searching for those with requisite skills that mesh with their objectives.  Employers are cautious about hiring now, but, in the long term, demand will escalate for those who can outperform. 
Marginal employees are more at risk when economic shifts occur,” Miller said.  

With real job growth found only in healthcare and government lately, are there opportunities?   

Gene Suppell, a 12-year Information Technology professional, said:  “Today’s evolved workplace has employers scrambling to find tech-savvy people.  For those unable to afford the Ivy League, tech is an inroad.  There are no barriers for those who understand office productivity software.  This learning can happen through job training programs and within schools.”   

With two-thirds of the U.S. economy based upon consumer spending, job data are the semaphore predicting 2009.        

J.R. Rosskamp is an investor, entrepreneur, and managing director of Veritas Partners, Inc., a business consulting firm. She can be reached at jrrosskamp@aol.com.