If you’re among the 10.2% that remain unemployed, you probably realize that the 2009 holiday season that begins with Thanksgiving will certainly present unique challenges. I wanted to share some thoughts I had after hearing a stock broker interviewed this morning comparing Thanksgiving 2008 to 2009 from his perspective. Bear in mind what economists have told us for decades regarding the stock market and labor market’s relationship with the economy. Stock is a leading indicator- predicting future results while the labor market is a lagging indicator-growing after the economy gets moving.
This stock broker described how his world looked last Thanksgiving. The markets were in a free-fall. Long term financial institutions were going belly up. Some reports predicted the fall was only the beginning of a slide into our first Depression in more than eighty years. One year later, the stock market is on a streak of eight consecutive growth months. The S&P index, for one, is up 61% (I’m quoting him). His main point was that in the face of last year’s market and all the gloom and doom reports in the news, anyone stepping forward and predicting that by Thanksgiving 2009 the markets would be on an eight month winning streak probably would have been laughed at. Yet that’s exactly where we stand at Thanksgiving 2009.
Now we know at Thanksgiving 2009 we have the highest unemployment rate in several decades. I realize that the relationship between stock and labor market has not always been absolute, but in many cycles the trends have followed each other. You can call me Pollyanna, but I certainly believe that there’s enough evidence to have optimism that 2010 will see improvements in the labor market. If you recall during the heights of the recessions of the early 1980’s and early 1990’s, few predicted that the labor market would rebound as strongly as it did in each case. Perhaps by Thanksgiving 2010, many will be as pleasantly surprised at the labor market rebound as this broker is about the stock market’s 2009 rebound.
On the topic of things to be thankful for, many in a prolonged job search discover how supportive their family and friends can truly be. Through networking, they also meet new friends and colleagues that have made a positive impact on their lives. Give thanks for those that have made this difficult year easier for you.