An acquaintance is being forced into a very premature retirement by the large privately-owned company where he has worked for the past 18 years. He doesn't know yet what kind of package he will get, but at least there will be a retirement package. I won't mention the name of the company, but it is big, old and has a sterling reputation as a well-run, relatively recession-proof business that has never before laid-off employees. He has never been a big earner, but he's been responsible. Without sharing the details of his situation, I'll just say that he will have a very tough time finding employment. Had he been able to work 10 more years at his job, he would have been set for a secure retirement. That has changed.
Another acquaintance, who is about age 50, has been a successful mortgage broker. Need I say more? He looks like he has aged ten years in the past 3-4 months.
A residential architect I know lost his job last month and, at 59-years-old, has no prospects in his field. Fortunately, his children are grown.
A friend who purchased, renovated and sold residential properties very profitably since the mid-1970s got caught with three mortgaged properties that would not sell. They ate him alive and he is out of business. Still, he is optimistic. There are some good buys out there. 40 years of good credit is down the drain, so he's looking for partners.
One friend has more work than he's ever had in his life. He's an attorney and investment banker. Recently, he was awarded the largest bonus he's ever received--a one time payment that would mean retirement to a life of luxury and ease for most people. He works with large failed businesses, including the financial giants, so he's not planning to quit anytime soon. He makes it back to Chicago on weekends, but the rest of the week consists of 16-hour work days in New York and Europe. He is scared--not for himself, but for the country. Hes says that we are facing a situation that none of the decision-makers have ever seen before and they really don't know for sure what, if anything, will work.
Another friend, a former financial trade magazine editor, went into the resume preparation business 3 years ago. The business evolved as he developed a sophisticated job search methodology. He guarantees his clients a job offer within three months or they pay nothing for his service. Business is booming and he tells me he is successful placing over 90% of his clients. He says that middle and upper management folks and workers with up-to-date tech skills are still relatively easy to place. All those certifications and courses matter, he tells me. Workers below middle management and those with skills that are less than up-to-the-minute are hard to place. He says that employers searching large databases cherry-pick the best.
Note to Phil Gramm
(who was, incidentally, one of the key players behind the efforts to
prevent regulation of derivatives trading): there is not a whiner in the bunch. They're just nervous.