My Job Loss
From lawyers in Paris to factory workers in China and bodyguards in Colombia, the ranks of the jobless are swelling rapidly across the globe. Worldwide job losses from the recession that started in the United States in December 2007 could hit a staggering 50 million by the end of 2009, according to the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency. The slowdown has already claimed 3.6 million American jobs. High unemployment rates, especially among young workers, have led to protests in countries as varied as Latvia, Chile, Greece, Bulgaria and Iceland and contributed to strikes in Britain and France. Last month, the government of Iceland, whose economy is expected to contract 10 percent this year, collapsed and the prime minister moved up national elections after weeks of protests by Icelanders angered by soaring unemployment and rising prices.
While the number of jobs in the United States has been falling since the end of 2007, the pace of layoffs in Europe, Asia and the developing world has caught up only recently as companies that resisted deep cuts in the past follow the lead of their American counterparts. Millions of migrant workers in mainland China are searching for jobs but finding that factories are shutting down. Though not as large as the disturbances in Greece or the Baltics, there have been dozens of protests at individual factories in China and Indonesia where workers were laid off with little or no notice.
As each day brings more bad news on the economic crisis, the monetary cost of the mounting job losses might be far easier to measure than the mental toll on the millions of people who suddenly find themselves out of work. The one upside -- if there is one -- is that people losing a job today might feel less of a stigma about their job loss because they have so much company. It may be harder to find a job and harder to finance the things you need, but it is easier in terms of feeling less singled out.
Job losses are always painful, and the recent recession and sluggish recovery have meant real hardship for many people worldwide. It is important, however, to shun hysteria and demagoguery in assessing what is going on with the labor market and why. The employment picture today is that of a temporary, cyclical shortage of jobs caused by the recent downturn; there is no permanent shortage of good jobs on the horizon. Even in good times, job losses are an inescapable fact of life in a dynamic market economy. Old jobs are constantly being eliminated as new positions are created.
Job loss can have a profound effect on your emotional well being. There is a typical cycle that most people experience. This cycle includes denial, anger, frustration, and eventually adaptation. Emotional issues aside, a number of practical issues must be addressed. We must determine how long our financial resources will sustain us. We must also decide if a career change is in order. Then we must begin to plan for the future.
Experts say there are a number of things you can do to ease the stress of unemployment:
* Tell your family about the job loss. Don't try to keep the job loss a secret.
* File for unemployment benefits right away, and find out about continuing your health benefits.
* Take a few days of "me" time and pamper yourself to get into a better mindset.
* Turn your work day into a day of looking for work.
* Don't isolate yourself. Continue to socialize. Look for volunteer opportunities.
* Exercise regularly and eat well to keep yourself healthy and to help stave off depression.
* Practice some sort of relaxation, such as prayer, meditation or yoga.