Our country is not going through a normal recession.
We are going through what is known as a secular recession, which is much, much worse. It marks permanent shifts in our economy that alter supply and demand in very fundamental ways.
This time around, jobs weren’t simply mothballed, only to be called back once things picked up. They were permanently eradicated.
Jobs, and whole sectors, were made obsolete, specifically in Manufacturing and Construction sectors.
If you still have a job count yourself lucky: keep your skills sharp so you keep that job.
I can’t think of any more urgent goals for almost anyone than the following 2 things:
1) Career Investment: You MUST keep yourself current. Don’t assume that just because you are wanted in your workplace today that it will continue indefinitely. Take a look at the recent college hires (if there are any) in your workplace. What are they bringing that you don’t have? Going to school isn’t just for your kids, it’s for you too if you want to keep relevant.
Technology is everyone and no one’s friend. Make sure you are on the right side of that equation.
2) Retirement Planning: Save every penny you can. Then save one more. There’s no taking out a loan for retirement. You absolutely must plan on worst case scenario! Worst case scenario = You are unable to work, either because your skills are irrelevant or because you physically are unable to, in your later years and so you must live off your retirement savings.
If you don’t like the trade-offs required of you today to invest in your career and your retirement, envision your older self and which older self you prefer: The one who still has options available or the one who is living a marginal life as a result of not making those tradeoffs during your working years?
Our economy and our country have permanently changed. I highly doubt that things are going to improve any time soon for the millions of people who are now long – term unemployed.
(Disclosure: I am a Fee-Only Financial Planner. My website is here.)