Listening to the news this week, there were mixed messages about the direction the economy is headed. In one report, the retail sales and employment numbers in December were better than expected, but at the same hand worse than what they have been in the past. Between stimulus funds being spent (or not spent), a health care proposal that will save us money (but will cost $1 Trillion), and an unemployment rate around 10% (but not including those that have stopped searching for work), it is hard to figure out where 2010 will go.
The stock market has recovered much of the losses from the prior year, which is a good sign for those with a 401(k) or individual holdings. It is also an optimistic look at the future, with people expecting the economy to improve over the next 12 months. But what about the millions who are unemployed or under-employed? Will they be seeing the same turn around this year?
If we look at the rust belt and the struggling automotive makers in Detroit as glimpse towards what the future holds, then many who are unemployed might have hope. The Detroit News reports that Ford, Chrysler, GM, Toyota, and Mercedes-Benz are all planning on hiring or bringing back laid-off workers this year to increase production. Of course, their total employee totals will be lower than what they have been in the past, but with the new stream-lined companies, they should be better equipped to handle the ever-changing marketplace.
The jobs will go a long way for those who are living off of their savings, taking advantage of bad credit loans while staving off bankruptcy, and those fearing foreclosure on their homes. And remember, there is a trickle-down benefit here, since these motor companies do not produce all of their own parts, but rather contract some of the parts out to other companies. In turn, these added jobs lead to added income to their neighborhoods, which leads to secondary businesses reopening to meet the needs of the public.
For these individuals as well as those fearing what 2010 holds in store for them, there is reason to have hope. It might not happen in this quarter or the next, but jobs might be around the corner. In the mean time, continue to scale back your expenses, tap into alternative ways to raise money (part-time jobs, make money online with eBay or Craigslist, tutoring, etc), and keep your priorities straight. In fact, everyone should do this even after the economy improves. After all, proper fiscal discipline (that goes for Congress and businesses as well) is the only way to prepare yourself in case the economy decides to go for another drop.