History repeats itself, but not necessarily the same way. It is absolutely discouraging to hear pundits on CNBC compare the current recession recovery to past recession recoveries of 1981 and 1990, when an average American did not have Internet access and true globalization was taking baby steps.
Companies like EBAY (NASDAQ:EBAY) and Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) were not even in existence, but now they’re the livelihood of a single mother in Oklahoma City who imports make up products from an exporter in Jakarta, Indonesia. The level field is truly different now: we are becoming a service based economy and we should definitely get used to it. Manufacturing jobs that left our country are partially being replaced by Chinese solar manufacturing companies hiring here in the states. Increased numbers of generation “Y” entrepreneurs are becoming self-employed millionaires through online businesses. Amidst of all these changes, Baby Boomers are trying to make ends meet to retire and often find themselves not being able to retrain themselves quick enough for available jobs in order to keep up with the rapidly changing economy.
However, for an average computer literate individual, it is much easier to find a job now than back in 1982 when the unemployment rate was roughly the same, hovering near 9%. You want to start work immediately? Move to North Dakota where the unemployment rate is currently 3.2%, which is below the normal “pre-crisis” unemployment rate of 5%. (Notice I say “pre-crisis”, since the new definition of the normal unemployment rate is projected to increase to 6.7 %.) There are also junior colleges that are pleading for individuals to take courses to become certified wind turbine specialists. Now, if a person is afraid of heights or doesn’t want to work under the blazing heat on West Texas wind farms, then maybe we should adjust the unemployment rate lower, wouldn’t you say?
What bothers me is that these skewed, inaccurate unemployment figures are constantly mentioned and embedded into peoples’ minds. The severity of the recession could be blown out of proportion, given the fact that we have a large percentage of unskilled laborers who are not willing to learn a new skill or move to a new state to fill those jobs. And need I say that there is a good percentage of unemployed that cheat on their "work search" forms that nobody verifies? Who knows how severe our crisis is currently and what is the definition of "true" recovery? Maybe we are slowly finding comfort in a higher unemployment rate like Spain, they sure seem to be happier than us by working less and having less.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.