Two overlapping recessions? One cyclical and temporary. The other systemic and permanent.

Seth Godin has generated discussion from his post, The forever recession (and the coming revolution).

He suggests that we are currently in two recessions:

The first is the cyclical one, the one that inevitably comes and then inevitably goes.  There’s plenty of evidence that intervention can shorten it, and also indications that overdoing a response to it is a waste or even harmful.

The other recession, though, the one with the loss of “good factory jobs” and systemic unemployment–I fear that this recession is here forever.

The first one will end.  Even though it is the deepest recession since World War II with the biggest drop of employment and longest recovery.  Even though in terms of jobs we are still in a worse place than the bottom of any other recession since the end of the war.  The American economy is so strong that we will recover.

What Mr. Godin refers to as the second recession is the radical change that we see taking place all around us. Many of these jobs will never come back.  Let me take you on a quick tour around the economy:

  • Newspapers – Jobs lost in the newspaper biz are gone forever.
  • Warehousing – Many of the jobs moving things around in a warehouse are gone. Amazon has consolidated them into centralized warehouses.
  • Photo film – Jobs at Eastman Kodak having anything to do with film? There may be a few left at the end, but almost all of those jobs are toast.
  • Law – The grunt work of discovery which provides most of the work during the first few years of your career as an attorney are going to disappear soon.
  • Post Office – Employment levels at USPS are only going to go one direction – – down.
  • Publishing – Number of jobs in the publishing world is going to drop soon.

Look inside just any industry and you’ll probably see something similar.

It’s not just technology.  It is a much broader trend.  The end of one era and start of another.  I’ll have more on that later, but here is Mr. Godin’s summary:

The industrial age, the one that started with the industrial revolution, is fading away. It is no longer the growth engine of the economy and it seems absurd to imagine that great pay for replaceable work is on the horizon.

What will replace it? That is the exciting part. That is the focus of this blog, in fact.

However, the transition will be painful.

Next post: Downside to the radical change around us

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