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Americans' fear of losing their jobs grows (axios.com)
131 points by hhs 7 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 212 comments

I think this reflects a general erosion of trust between employers and employees, which I blame Corporate America for. It used to be a tacit agreement in the workforce that if you worked hard, the boss and the company would take care of you. This illusion has been shattered first by the employers (outsourcing, at-will employment, gig economy), and now the employees (ghosting, switching firms without notice).

The lack of trust on both sides engenders the feeling that any promotion is unlikely and every position uncertain, so folks always have one foot out the door. Once the trust is gone, it takes a long time to rebuild, so even if corporations changed tack now, it's likely that employees will continue to distrust them for the foreseeable future.

Edit: Clarity.

> This illusion has been shattered first by the employers (outsourcing, at-will employment, gig economy), and now the employees (ghosting, switching firms without notice).

This wasn't an illusion, companies actually did take care of employees and had pensions and full-time jobs and retraining and stuff.

Also, ghosting and employees bouncing is a symptom of the employers not providing any loyalty to their employees. Boomers and GenX stayed for 30 years when they had pensions, Millenials would too.

Is it possible that the existence of companies themselves is subject to more volatility? How can they provide stability when they themselves have unstable sources of income?

I've only been around for a little more than 3 decades, but I've seen many markets and businesses be transformed. Vastly fewer numbers of travel agents, many retail establishments, tv channels, secretaries, hotel front desk, self check out are needed. Not to mention the effects of a drastic drop in birthrates.


That's just a reason why all of the benefits need to be government (and taxes on corporations to pay for them) backed things that are retained across jobs.

They don't need to be government backed, just not tied to an employer/job. Much like current retirement plans are not tied to a specific company.

401k is government backed. The name itself refers to the law that brought them into existence. Just as Roth IRAs are named for the Senator who proposed them. Without the backing of the government, your retirement plan would solely consist of what you save and you'd be taxed on it all along the way.

I'm not sure that's what was meant by government backed. The government doesn't pay for your retirement fund, a Roth IRA just doesn't charge tax on withdrawals.

My intent was the entire benefits provisioning package outsourced to the government. This way irrespective of if heath coverage (it's not really insurance, which is a separate debate), paid time off of all kinds, and all other pre-tax line items are an entirely separate income stream and go over to the government managed pool of resources.

The compensation rate for all such items might thus become far more standardized, and all of the bureaucratic conformance for such items would be there as well.

This would be an exceedingly small business friendly move as suddenly a lot of the headaches of employing someone would just be paid for with a simple 'tax'.

It would also be very worker friendly as all of those things and seniority/etc would similarly be paid for with that 'tax'.

This does assume that there's a uniform allocation of resources per employee (I know there isn't today), or that there's a standard appreciation track for employees (there isn't today)... or that there might be multiple standard ranks of benefits (which would need to be more clearly advertised in job descriptions)...

However everything really would be easier for everyone if we actually had this system; the only entities that would benefit from the status quo in a meaningful way are large corporations with enough employees to justify full time HR and legal staff.

401k's are only government backed in a weird circular way. If there were no government, they would work fine as a retirement savings plan. The government backs them only by protecting them from the government taking more of the money in taxes.

And as the other response mentions, this was more in about the idea of the government funding and controlling it.

but, isn't that like, socialism? /s

Otoh, we have far more marketers, professional writers, video editors, programmers, and people who make their own profits via YouTube etc.

And a drastic drop in birth rate should mean fewer people so favor labor.

Declining birth rate would also reduce demand for labor, not just supply, no? Assuming that the relationship between population and demand for labor is linear (probably isn't, I don't know economics).

I think it's a delayed effect. As the populace ages, people who are retired (from when birthrates were higher) will make up a larger percentage of the total population. There's some existing info on this out there, but most of what I have seen focuses on how this will impact Social Security in the US.

Birth rates in the US mean nothing if the birth rates elsewhere are high -- immigrants, legal or otherwise, will make up the difference.

I would say sure, if it werent for the fact that a lot of major corporations are currently having some of their most profitable years ever. And if you consider companies like Apple that are sitting on literal mountains of cash, this argument breaks down.

The link in my comment clearly shows that most of the profits are going to a small number of corporations. This is even more evidence that companies are more unstable (compared to period between WW2 and now).

From the article:

>In 2015, for example, the top 200 companies by earnings accounted for all of the profits in the stock market, according to calculations by Kathleen Kahle, a professor of finance at the University of Arizona, and Professor Stulz. In aggregate, the remaining 3,281 publicly listed companies lost money.

The employees of those 200 companies are in a good spot, but not the remaining 3,281. The consolidation due to vertical integration, automation, outsourcing are all resulting in reduced demand for labor, hence the lagging wages and instability.

I heard Apple is issueing bonds, since interest rates are low. Can't fathom why.

They can borrow money at a few percent interest rather than bring their profits from overseas back to the US and pay the corporate tax rate on it.

It might be an accounting deal to avoid paying higher taxes?

> companies actually did take care of employees

Was this primarily due to employees having more leverage and demanding it (because union rights were a lot stronger)?

Unions were far stronger yes. And so were communities. The legal changes are minor, compared to the changes from a high-trust society to whatever we are now.

Capital doesn't run things around here, managers do. Think about that.

I'd say its primarily because the original purpose of a corporation wasn't shareholder value at the expense of all other things, like benefiting the community, employee wellbeing. It was supposed to be the responsibility of the employer to take care of loyal employees. The 80s and the age of corporate raiders and activist investors changed that.

> Boomers and GenX stayed for 30 years when they had pensions,

Uh, GenX was being born as private pensions were being phased out; GenX was 401K at best from day one for the most part, outside of public sector.

The oldest Gen X is almost 60 now, many entered the workforce when there were still defined benefit plans. But you're essentially right, most missed the boat.

Not quite that old, but early to mid-50s - Pretty sure GenX is 1965 - 1980. I'm on the tail end of that and yeah no pensions... Baby boomers got all the good stuff :)

The range is all over the place. Boomers range from 1960 to 1964 depending on the person doing the definition.

To compete with the rest of the world, the US companies cannot create commodity products or services. Our labor costs are too high for commodities.

Thus, they must chase the Next Big Thing. The result is that they have to keep "flushing" their workforce to chase a different butterly every few years as the prior NextBigThing turns into a commodity and drifts overseas or is automated.

To do this, companies want just-in-time specialists that they don't have to train. Loyalty and hard-work alone won't give them that.

We can compete with the rest of the world, we simply need to do what other countries are and produce local demand for the local supply.

e.g. farm to school is a great way to provide local farms consistent local demand baseline so they're not just selling to the arbitrageurs and megacorps via often-gamed futures markets.

I'm a big fan of de-commoditizing what really shouldn't be commodities in the first place.

The US is a pretty huge player in industries like mining and farming, industries that produce commodities in huge quantities.

Also the largest producer of oil:

The United States, 15,647,000 BPD

Most is used for domestic consumption, but we're on track to be net-exporters.

It's been a while since I did any serious work on food policy, but the US was the largest exporter of grain for a while, too. Not the largest producer, not the largest consumer -- that'd be China -- but largest exporter.

Social trust has been declining for half a century:


It's one of the most pressing issues in sociology and is rarely discussed at all, and typically discussed dishonestly when it is.

I wholly agree. Its funny to hear some of the older generations recommend staying at an employer for a long amount of time still (I am constantly told that job-hopping will badlly affect my career in the long run). I think the good advice is the exact opposite (in moderation). Change jobs, take what you want, that's the only way you're ever going to get it anymore in any reasonable amount of time.

> ...I blame Corporate America for.

> Once the trust is gone, it takes a long time to rebuild...

Go deeper. What can we do as technologists to protect the economy from untrusty "corporate Americans"?

Why would corporate Americans be so untrusty? >> I speculate it's inculcated in colleges, anti-ethical scientific approaches to management, insufficiently modeling reality, providing a sense of "distance" for those who would join higher levels of management resulting in a lack of feeling for the suffering they might inflict through their quest for optimizing the business. >> As a technologist we can take away the scientific management aspect from the humans, effectively replacing senior management with robots, restricing the humans to being human, and promoting into senior management individuals with good people skills, with the hopeful side-effect of normalizing wages to reflect the cost-savings of a true scientific management of the business.

Why is there even a need for trust of corporate Americans? >> I speculate there is no need and that obstruction of progress by senior management and colleges where these subjects are ingrained into young minds is more the culprit. Centralization of power may be seen as efficient. It's also "one size fits all" and actually inefficient; no-one at the top can synthesize all the feedback from all reports in a reliably timely fashion. >> As technologists we can help corporations model and encode their businesses, feeding that data into a system that aids in machine- or human-based decision making.

Semantically, I think the erosion of trust is a symptom of having larger and more consolidated companies in Corporate America.

Trust comes from getting to know people and working with them. It's a lot easier to know 10 people than 250+. I think with smaller scale businesses with fewer employees there is a stronger sense of community and trust to watch out for each other. For a huge company spread out all over, there's not a sense of really 'belonging' to a community (some may say it's more 'using' a community), so the trust is murkier.

Imagine a family of 10 people vs. a family of 250 people. How much trust would one have in a sister or cousin vs. an aunt's cousin's daughter's niece?

Now imagine how much trust an employee would have in job decisions made by a manager's manager's VP's SVP at corporate HQ. They may hardly know each other aside from name only, so why would they care about each other, let alone trust each other? They are just blips on each other's radars.

The concept you're referring to is localism and I really believe in it over globalism.

Not on the side of Corporate America but curious how you would respond.

As markets get more mature, it becomes difficult for companies to maintain employees if their salary level to contribution rate drops. Is the assumption that employees will absolutely be valuable to a company's strategic goals? How can a company practically care for an employee for life?

The answer is that companies can’t. Private businesses shouldn’t have to create expensive welfare programs for their employees, but pay their taxes and let Government take care of healthcare and other essentials through national healthcare programs.

"Private businesses shouldn’t have to create expensive welfare programs for their employees, but pay their taxes and let [individuals] take care of [their own] healthcare and other essentials".


Is the theory that healthcare prices would drop like rocks and surgeries wouldn't cost hundreds of thousand of dollars, or do the poor and middle class just die?

Is the theory that healthcare prices would drop like rocks and surgeries wouldn't cost hundreds of thousand of dollars, or do the poor just die?

Before we worry about taking care of employees for life, how about we first fix stagnating wages? Companies are still making excellent profits, some are at record profits even after inflation adjustment. Skyrocketing CEO pay is one of the causes. Please see graph in Figure 3:


I couldn't find any European curves, but things are slightly better over there.

The employees also chose to patronize businesses that outsourced and offered lower prices. Other than forcing Americans to buy products made with American labor, what options are there?

Choice is a really funny word when it comes to employees. Most employees don't have a "choice" if you look a little further beyond the surface.

By employees, I’m referring to American customers, who opted for the low prices at Walmart versus their local store. My point is employers didn’t have a choice either, if they wanted to stay in business.

This is the end result of arbitrage opportunities due to differences in nations’ wealth.

Walmart isn't really an example of choice.

I've traveled the Midwest and great plains extensively every year since 2009, and have watched it slowly destroy small town life. The locals fought back as much as they could, but saving an extra $50 a week ended up being too alluring, and local businesses died. I've talked to quite a few people that lament how it turned out but are completely resigned to how it happened and that it won't change.

Walmart was a choice at some point in history. And even if it's not Walmart, everyone in the chain of buying and selling is going to have to justify their decisions to a boss or a budget.

You can zoom out of the Walmart vs local store picture, and imagine you're in charge of decision making at a large manufacturing company, and your competitor has moved their production to a country with cheaper labor. Is your company going to be able to sell your products at a higher price if you choose to use more expensive labor? Are you going to be able to convince customers that their decisions now will cause income instability for their children and children's children, and that they should spend $x more on your product because of it?

Poor people don't choose to not support their communities. They've been put in a position to be forced to "choose" between supporting their local store vs having a warm, safe(ish) place to sleep for their families.

It is a situation that snowballs, but even originally when foreign goods started coming in, people didn't consciously choose to not support their community. They were just doing what consumers do, which is choose to purchase at the best (lowest) price they could find.

But due to information asymmetry and limited ability to analyze and understand the consequences of each and every purchase, there was only one inevitable outcome, assuming goods and services are allowed to be transported between borders.

This is a terrible conclusion you've drawn here.

Think about the benefits of saving money, it creates opportunity for growth.

Side note, mom and pop shops made more profit than Walmart. That money is not shared with employees, it makes the family wealthy.

Historically, labor unions.

Maybe something akin to the “buy local” initiative, but on a national level. That said buy local has its issues like not all locales being able to “buy local” and sometimes subsidizing local producers is counterproductive (effort to overcome specialization is too costly), etc.

That said a framework which ensured some minimum requirements (like labor laws and environmental controls, work safety, etc.), could be a place to start.

That very framework is what makes offshoring to countries without that framework so much cheaper and so much more lucrative.

Labor laws and environmental controls would have to be implemented globally, but then we're talking about going to war and taking over other countries.

It can be encouraged via tariffs and other taxes that vary depending on adherence level.

> The lack of trust on both sides engenders the feeling that any promotion is unlikely and every position uncertain, so folks always have one foot out the door

It's not just lack of trust, it's also due to the flattening of organizations necessitated by more collaborative work styles than we had decades ago.

Organizations aren't truly flat, ever. This has been consistently debunked as a myth. If the hierarchy is not explicit, it forms implicitly through cliques and personal relationships.

I think you've hit an important point though, because in flat organizations, there are no rules preventing the strong and ruthless from seizing power and catering everything to their whim, including giving themselves bonuses or arbitrary privileges. Many modern tech companies are structured in this manner. The need to have a "collaborative style of work" may be the fantasy the executives feed workers to blind them from the power grab behind their backs.

Umm.. there never was an agreement that if you worked hard the boss and company would take care of you. Never existed. That's just an imaginary explanation pitched by nostalgia and the media. You know what actually improved life for workers? Unions.

I've stopped fearing losing a job because, frankly, it happens so often as a remote webdev I basically never stop looking.

In fact, I am currently unemployed after I rather unwisely completed a 20-week job in 11, and I was literally given no notice and a week's pay.

So now its back to the Upwork slog and trying to convince someone (again) that yes, since I have been a professional programmer for 25 years I can for sure fix those database issues and add those rather pedantic features to your app or website.

Like I often want to shout..."Do you think I'm lying when you read the years and years of experience on my CV that literally lay out me fixing the same issues that you have, and much much more complex ones as well?"

Trying to pin the "blame" (whatever that even means) will get you nowhere...it's like blaming the "wind" when a hurricane comes and blows off you roof. Yes, the "wind" did cause your roof to fly away, but it was simply the endpoint for a huge number of directly connected and unconnected forcess, too many to measure, that were in place for that bit of wind to do its dirty work.

I feel the only sane way to look at work nowadays is to always have an eye out for opportunities that may work career-wise, and get better at interviewing.


"Do you think I'm lying when you read the years and years of experience on my CV ..."

Yes, they do. Because so many people do lie on their resume and hiring a liar is a very costly mistake. It doesn't matter that most people tell the truth... The ones that lie are just too much of a risk.

When my father was looking for a new job, he would walk into the interview and tell them all the problems they were having. When they asked how he could possibly know that with so little information, he would tell them it was because everyone who was hiring him had those same issues.

This helped reinforce that he understood the issues and had fixed them in the past.

Perhaps some similar prescience on your part could help you answer their questions quicker and easier? It's almost a party trick, but it really did seem to be effective for him.

Why don't you contract days for bigger companies? Day rates are very high for someone with your experience. Also you can usually negotiate to be on site only some days of the week or even month

Why not get off Upwork, set up a business with an identity beyond your individual self and go for business / corporate work?

My fear never went away. As someone who graduated at the very beginning of the Great Recession, I have a constant feeling that this cannot be forever.

Even prior to that, many of us watched our parents _very unceremoniously_ lose their "job for life" jobs in the 80s and 90s. The illusion of loyalty to an employer and job security went up in smoke with those layoffs, for me personally.

And statistics don't apply to the individual. I'm a 3rd generation programmer and watched my own father get the boot by his company just because they wanted to "restructure to Chicago". 27 years at that job -- it defined where we put our roots down.

I really enjoy the people I work with, but I never take stability for granted. Ensuring I'm always updating my resume and taking a couple interviews a year is part of my professional ritual. If it were feasible, we'd move elsewhere, but we both have good social networks and roots here -- which is arguably more "expensive" to a working couple in their early thirties than gold.

Similar experience here. 25 years at a "job for life" and he got a carriage clock. A couple of years later we move to the other side of the UK. A couple of years later they shut down that office making dad redundant.

I am under no illusions about any company I might work for, no matter what size or how much I like the individuals I work with or for.

>it defined where we put our roots down.

Sadly, I don't feel like I will ever put my roots down in a place. I'm of the mind that I always have to ready to pack up and move to the new office if means I can keep my job and lifestyle.

raised by immigrant parents who were self-employed I was always scared away from the corporate world for this reason. They were constantly talking about how people can get laid off very quickly. They tried to steer me into medicine for this reason (recession proof. Didn't take). I'm now in a corporate setting and aim to be self-employed again soon enough.

I graduated in 1995, at the peak of the dot-com boom. I'm still pretty much always in fear of losing my job: there's always somebody willing to do it for less.

I don’t think 1995 was the peak of the dot-com boom. It was just starting out then, see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dot-com_bubble

The peak came in 2000, just before the bust (gradual rise, hard fall).

I went to grad school after graduating in 1998, I was lucky enough to miss both recessions (I was in China in 2008). Now I’m jobless during a boom :). But I guess, as always, the best way to protect yourself is to be at the top of the tech curve (this is a double edge sword if you specialize in something that isn’t currently hot).

Especially now with the record enrollment in CS/CE programs over the past 5-10 years. The industry has been awash with fresh talent for the past few years and I don't see it slowing down.

I'm not concerned about fresh talent. When I went to a state school I was worried, I wrote scripts, did some minor html and word press. I considered myself as someone who has 0 experience programming. I did quite well but I did not expect the amount of people who simply are not cut out for programming. In programming 1 and 2 about 50% completed the course. Discrete structure only 15%. Algorithms less than 50%. It was an insane experience and the school is no MIT. People pick CS because they all think they will make $100k straight out of school. They don't care about computers/programming. Someone that is half passionate will have much greater results because they take some pride in their work.

Plus, good problem solvers do not have to program to make money. You can go work for smaller company and help them define processes, improve automation or manage software/system integration.

Maybe it's different in the US but in Europe companies still struggle to find good job candidates. They get tons of applications of course but they aren't good/experienced enough. Basically many companies' bottleneck is hiring.

Dude. I beg of you, to stop repeating the propaganda that big tech so desperately wants you, and everyone else to believe.

There is NOT a shortage in developers. There NEVER WAS.

Big Tech simply couldn't stomach the rise in salaries that we saw between 2005 and 2017/2018. This all comes down to cost. There's plenty of talent not just in the US, but abroad. But big tech continues to see a need to drive prices down, and profits up. The best way to do that? Pay employees less.

Trust me when I say that programming is a blue collar job in 10 years. Big tech has done a phenomenal job convincing even engineers, that the pool of talent is "so small" that their job couldn't possibly be at risk if everyone and their mother gets a CS degree.

Good luck to you, if that's your mindset.

> I beg of you, to stop repeating the propaganda that big tech so desperately wants you, and everyone else to believe.

I fell for this hard. I was in high school reading blog left and right about how in demand programmers were and that you didn't even really need college because it was too much theory, not solving the problems companies want.

So I decided, why take all that time when I could make make money right out of high school. Turns out, that decision hsa kinda screwed me now.

Now I did get started before some of the hype. I guess it was there, but not as prominent or in my face. I do general enjou programming and solving problems and it's not just a money thing for me. Unfortunately, I feel my decisions will choke my career eventually.

Big Tech yes, but there are smaller companies who have an insanely hard time finding well rounded full stack engineers.

That has nothing to do with a shortage of engineers. There are plenty of engineers, just none that are willing to work for 70k a year.

There is a salary divide between what big companies can pay, and what little companies can pay. That's drawing a significant portion of the talent away from the smaller labor market.

Either the smaller companies need to consider hiring more junior engineers (of which there are plenty). Or they need to make their offers more attractive.

Or we recognize that steering more students towards programming is good both for their career and the economy. It is only people who wants developers to stay better paid than other similar fields who thinks that it isn't a shortage.

Based on my last job search, smaller companies just aren't paying salaries that are going to attract well rounded full stack engineers.

The reason software engineering pay so much better than similar fields is since there is a lack of software engineers. Encouraging people to pick that option in order to lower wages to similar levels as other fields makes perfect sense, don't you agree?

Having a hard time finding employees does not necessarily mean there is a shortage of employees. There are two sides to this market. What are the companies doing right who are successfully finding people? How much are they offering in compensation?

The past two companies I've worked for had nearly as many interns as FTEs on some teams. My current company has about 1/8th of the building dedicated to engineering intern cubes, and they are packed in like sardines too.

When speaking with former colleagues, the topic of interns often comes up. I had drinks with some last week who mentioned her team had so many interns that some FTEs needed to double-up to manage them all.

It could be regional. When I was coming up, internships were rarely a thing. I was never one and hadn't even seen an CS intern until a few years back. Seeing companies go from 0% to 40% of engineering staff as interns over the course of four years is pretty striking.

That sounds like disaster waiting to happen. Just thinking about my skills as an intern vs. my skills now: good luck to that employer when, 3 years down the line, most of the interns and current FTE's have left and the code is unreadable.

I feel like that's unrealistic expectations - just because I'm applying for a senior role doesn't mean I'll have 5 years of React.

For senior tech employees there's a big drain from Europe towards USA; if you have the experience and skills then it's feasible to get much more money across the pond, as tech salaries in Europe tend to be lower than USA even if we exclude the Silicon Valley salary peak.

I'm right there with you. I rode out the recession in graduate school and I've been waiting for the sky to fall pretty much since the time I got my first good tech job in 2014.

Yup, it will. It is only a matter of time. Have to expect as much and plan accordingly. That's reality in this day and age.

I graduated later, when unemployment rates were dropping continuously. I still have this fear, even though the justification for it is not well founded (I've been able to get internships for all of summers, and had full time offer in hand before the start of my senior year).

It seems much more likely to me that this is an instinctual fear. Our jobs are our primary mechanism by which we get the resources we need to survive. Of course we'd worry about losing that, even when times are doing well. The cavemen that didn't have this fear probably starved at higher rates.

That is a good feeling to have because it cannot and will not. It has been the same for every generation whether they felt it or not

Do you have savings? If you had enough saved to spend a year looking for another job, would you still live in fear?

Statistically "everyone" who graduated in the Great Recession is still a year or two at least (and in some cases far more) from paying off student loans. Statistically we're a generation of nothing but debt with no savings to fallback on because we've never had a long enough "peace time" of growth to pay back our creditors.

It's wonderful to imagine some hypothetical reality where you had enough saved to survive an entire year looking for a job. What privilege you would have! Presumably you have no health problems because CORBA is broken again and the current administration crippled HCA guarantees because who needs affordable health care when you don't have a current employer. It feels like you might as well wish for a Pegasus to fly you to all your job interviews while you are at it.

We've all earned our cynical stripes here, but thanks for offering a lovely fantasy.

You’re not responsible for your generation, just yourself.

You didn’t answer my question about savings. Are you saving? If not you can and you should.

If you don’t have savings the first step is to come up with a budget. Send me an email if you need help it’s in my profile.

Can't budget very well, or save at all if you make exactly how much your base-level living expenses are bud. I'm still eating ramen at the end of the month. What am I supposed to be budgeting here? Count out my bowtie pasta pieces more precisely to budget them? My generation simply can't live like this, it isn't sustainable, and isn't realistic to expect professionals to live in poverty. I barely have enough business casual clothes to make it through a single week cycle and buying more is a huge expense to me. Something bigger is going to have give, maybe a recession is what is needed to show people how unrealistic this is.

If your living expenses are truly exactly your income then you need to move. You’re either making really little or living in an expensive area.

If you were in say Dallas TX for example and you waited on tables for $14 / hour you would be making double the rent.

You’ve got to have a plan.

The September who is hiring thread is much smaller than last year’s. Employers are cutting back.

Given how low unemployment is, it makes sense there are more people who fear job loss. In the past, more people were unemployed and thus could not feel afraid of losing something they didn't have.

We live in a disposable world now, that extends to both employees and corporations/employers. Everything's far more ephemeral than it used to be.

I always thought job loss was something that happens to other people until I got laid off despite being an ‘A player.’ Now I assume it is just a matter of time no matter the role.

This is the reality for everyone under at-will employment. Even if you are the best at your job, outside circumstances like changes in strategy, funding and leadership can make you a target for ‘managed offboarding.’

What other types of employment are there?

Contract employment? Unions?

Can't contracts always be terminated or union workers laid off?

It depends on the specifics of the contract and the union's collective bargaining agreement, but plenty of these types of agreements exist where employment is not considered at-will.

Interesting that the two data sources used concern housing and consumer credit, not employment.

Employment figures don't tell you much about consumer confidence.

Decreased employment would be an indicator of an actual economic downturn, this is focused on people fearing an economic downturn which is very different.

Because we are near full employment and they now have jobs to lose? From this morning's Washington Post: "For the first time, most new working-age hires in the U.S. are people of color"


That's why we need universal basic income

UBI is an interest concept but it wouldn't solve this. If you go from e.g. $5K/month (job) to $1K/month (UBI) you'd still have to adjust your living standards (and if people expect to lose their jobs, even with UBI, they'd still make more cautious decisions which would still trigger the same indicators).

UBI and other social safety nets are "good ideas." But they aren't a one size fits all solution to every problem. It won't restore consumer confidence.

Still better than going from $5k/month to $0k/month.

No solution are one size fit all solution to every problem. What is your point?

You don't go to 0k/month. For as much as people like to hate on the American safety net, it does exist.

It really is a net though; there are a lot of holes in it that are easier to fall through than you think. I've been caught by the net once, but in another situation I've fallen through it, and it's really hard to get back up from that.

The safety net that exist right now require waiting time, a lot of hoop and paperwork to get approved.

That with UBI we'd still be in exactly the same position as now? Your point was that UBI would somehow play a relevant role in low consumer confidence. I am pointing out that may not be the case.

How is exactly the same? $1k>$0k. With basic income, I for example for sure will be less anxious if i know that if I lose my job now, I still have some income.

US Workers have unemployment checks, food stamps, and Medicaid. No one is hitting $0 / month unless you're out of a job for over 6-months (when some unemployment benefits run out).

If a lot of people are unemployed for over 6 months unemployment benefits can often be extended by the legislature.

Basic income doesn't replace health care. unemployment checks, food stamps require waiting time, hoops, paperwork. Even then there is still some chance to be denied. There is no 6-month limitation on basic income.

The point of UBI isn't that you will live off of $1000/month. Americans generally don't want to live off the government dole, they want to work hard.

Perhaps they want to start their own businesses and live the American dream of self sufficiency. But for most, this is out of the question unless you come from a well to do family, so you are forced to work a crappy job for many years just so you and your family don't starve.

If everyone gets UBI, you suddenly have choices. You can finally start that business you've been dreaming about if your family invests their UBI in you for some time, or if you get 10 friends together (if you have no family). And if the business fails, you're not suddenly in debt to a bank and having to declare bankruptcy and ruining your credit.

Or if starting a business is not for you, you can feel free to tell your boss you're unhappy, because if you're fired, you're not suddenly unable to pay rent (depending on where you live, you may need to save up a few months of UBI for this). You won't be so mentally distraught at the idea of 0 income, and corporations won't be able to so brazenly take advantage of workers, keeping them on their toes with the constant threat of the axe falling down because quarterly profits were down 10%.

Starting a new business during a recession is a fool's game.

The problem with a recession is that everyone has collectively decided to buy less stuff. People are buying less stuff, which means factories need to make fewer items, which means people get fired, which causes more people to buy less stuff.

It also means that banks are less willing to fund new businesses, and shareholders are less willing to buy up IPOs / etc. etc. Investors "flight to safety" and buy up US Treasuries, while selling off "risky" properties. Causing stock prices to drop, IPOs to fail, and the overall mechanisms of growth to taper off.

UBI "solves" social issues, but doesn't seem to be a solution to the economic / recession issue. If a recession hits, there's pretty much nothing you can do about it.

At the moment, there are some severely mixed signals: manufacturing seems to be in decline, agriculture is also in decline. Futhermore, the yield curve has inverted.

On the other hand: the unemployment rate remains low and general investor sentiment also seems high. Investors are still investing into risky businesses and focusing on a "Growth model" (see Uber, Lyft, Tesla, etc. etc.). So some people are optimistic, while others are growing pessimistic. Its hard to tell if a recession is on the way.

> The point of UBI isn't that you will live off of $1000/month.

I think you replied to the wrong person, or misread the comment you replied to. The post above was about consumer confidence. Which is what the thread itself is about.

This seems like a wholehearted defence of UBI as a concept, but it just isn't relevant in this comment chain or as an argument for why UBI would prop up consumer confidence (or alter the measures).

I don't think I've ever felt scared about losing a job, though I think it has always been a part of my personality to reject being slotted into some corporate machine and have always had one foot out the door of a job, so to speak.

The recession is coming - save some money for the winter...

The United States is weird in that you are defined, here, by your job or profession. TV shows put your job title under your name when you appear on them. People's first question is always "What do you do?" at parties and at events. In other countries, this isn't always the case. When I'm in Europe, people ask where you're from, what's for dinner, and what's happening? The question of your job is rarely asked up front, I find. It's how Americans define themselves, which, in the end, generally comes down to how the US doesn't value human life, only the potential earnings thereof.

These silly “American bad Europe good” comments always find their way into these discussions, and they are as uninsightful as “if you aren’t the customer you’re the product!”.

An equally uncharitable interpretation is: American culture, unlike European, places incredible value on personal agency. We ask each other “what do you do” because we actually have the socially enforced freedom to choose what the answer to the question is. It’s always shocked me how little freedom Europeans have in choosing the course of their own lives. You can see this playing out when they don’t even bother to ask each other what they do for a living (it’s a taboo to ask because most Europeans hate their jobs).

This, of course, is absurd. People all over the world ask each other what they do because it’s useful information to know how somebody spends their time, and may provide additional conversation topics.

>We ask each other “what do you do” because we actually have the socially enforced freedom to choose what the answer to the question is.

No we don't, or at least most people don't. People of disenfranchised communities don't choose to not go to college or get a job in software development. This makes up most people.

Saying that if people had a choice they'd go to college or get a job as a software developer is quite an assumption. There's nothing wrong with wanting to go to do something like a trade school. I've got some younger cousins that are earning the same amount as apprentice electricians as my wife with a masters degree.

This is a strawman. Disenfranchised communities don't have a choice to go to a trade school either.


What is your definition of "disenfranchised community" such that it covers most people?

You mean felons? That's the only disenfranchised community in the US

This is simply bs, sorry for being blunt.

When you're conversing, sooner or later the topic will switch to professions. And there is no taboo in this area.

Asking a stranger about his occupation (esp. if the answer could be - judging by circumstances, appearance or whatever - that she/he has not been as lucky as you regarding jobs/skills) is considered impolite though.

What have you been smoking? We get paid to go to university and it’s free.


And it’s never rude to ask what kind of work you do.

Interesting double take on the situation

They're worse than “if you aren’t the customer you’re the product!”.

The latter at least is true in some sense.

> People's first question is always "What do you do?" at parties and at events. ... When I'm in Europe, people ask where you're from

A charitable interpretation is that it's better to ask someone about an aspect of themselves they control over one that was a product of purely random chance. Both tell you many things about the person, but the former gives the person more influence over how they are perceived.

I grew up in the South. If you ask where I'm from and I tell you that, it brings a whole pile of baggage to mind some of which I may not want to be associated with. But there's nothing I can do about that. It is where I'm from. Ask me what I do, though, and at least the answer is to some degree a thing that I chose.

This is a good point. I'm in the exact same boat: I'm from the South too, which isn't something I'm proud of at all, and I occasionally get comments asking why I don't speak with a Southern accent (my parent intentionally adopted a Midwestern English speaking style, and I also intentionally avoided picking up any such accent, plus I grew up in places with more kids who had migrated there from out-of-state). I really don't want to be known for where I came from, but what I've done with my life, which I find far more interesting (being the first person in my family to graduate from a 4-year university).

My wife is from the South, and she decided not to have a southern accent either, even though it occasionally comes out when she spends a week visiting family. She did grad school in Maryland, and she's told me about college professors assuming she was stupid once they found out she was from the south. She rarely lets people know that she's originally from the South if she doesn't know them well.

> I'm from the South too, which isn't something I'm proud of at all

I get that feeling. I live on the West Coast and spend a lot of time online and, man, the number of supposedly progressive, tolerant liberals who are willing to completely shit on an entire group of people based on where they were born or their accent is astonishingly large. There's some real cognitive dissonance around this. They'd never criticize someone for being born in a third-world country, or speaking in black vernacular English. But they're happy to joke that every Alabamian commits incest and every person who says "ain't" is an ignorant dipshit.

There are many legitimate things to dislike about the South, just like there are many legitimate things to dislike about every region, culture, and people. But I don't think it's fair or healthy to feel shame about being from the South.

First of all, there's no sense in shame for something you don't control. You didn't commit an original sin by choosing to be born from there. More importantly, though, being from the South is an important piece of the holistic sum that is you and you shouldn't feel ashamed for who you are. You're allowed to like your whole self.

Also, there's a lot of stuff that's actually pretty great about the South. People may be less kind to out-groups there, but they are conversely more helpful for members of in-groups. Get a flat tire and my hunch is someone will pull over to help you sooner in Mississippi than in New York.

Outside of the South, there is a greater tolerance at the group level. People strive hard to not be racist, sexist, etc. But they are more willing to shun individuals to who don't precisely fit into the proper culture mold. In the South, my experience is that people are more understanding and forgiving of individual transgressions and idiosyncracies.

Also, the South has the best food.

The South has nothing to be proud of. It fought a devastating war to preserve slavery, and this is something it's still proud of to this day. They have violent protests to preserve statues of Confederate (rebel) leaders in public spaces.

Yes, people who use "ain't" sound like ignorant dipshits to me. I grew up in the South and I know the English language well enough to know that's ignorant; no one else in the South has an excuse now that it's 2019.

I don't feel shame for being born in a place I don't have much respect for, since as you point out, it was out of my control, but I certainly don't feel any pride about it, and certainly don't wear it on my sleeve like so many do.

"Less kind to out-groups" is an understatement. This is a place that mob-murdered black people by hanging them from trees not that long ago. Try getting a flat tire in the South and being black or Middle Eastern and see how many white people help you then.

As for food, it's disgusting and unhealthy. It's all fried and is one of the main reasons Southerners have so many more cases of heart disease than the rest of the US. American food in general is horrible, and America has never been good in a culinary sense except for things 20th-+-century immigrants brought here (esp. Italians) (American tastes in food have been improving a lot in the last couple of decades though), but Southern food is horrible even by historical American standards.

> It fought a devastating war to preserve slavery, and this is something it's still proud of to this day.

You're committing a common logical fallacy which is attributing an act to a group and referring to it as a singular entity. You can just as accurately say that "The United States promoted slavery." or "Europe committed the Holocaust."

You know black people are Southerners too and by saying "the South" to uniformly refer to only white slave owners and racists, you implicitly eradicate their lives and contributions to southern culture.

> They have violent protests to preserve statues of Confederate (rebel) leaders in public spaces.

"They" — people who live in the South — also conducted the Montgomery bus boycott and marched to Montgomery.

Jesus, dude, are you OK? No one should be so hateful of such a large body of people.

I'm in the same boat; having grown up in Florida, I don't really like telling people, since I know about all the dumb Florida Man memes, and I don't want people lumping me into the same bucket. If they ask what I do for a living, and I tell them "Eccentric math dude" or "Software Engineer", that's something I worked hard to cultivate, and I don't get nearly as defensive about.

> A charitable interpretation is that it's better to ask someone about an aspect of themselves they control over one that was a product of purely random chance.

There is a lot of random chance involved though. Fall out of the right womb and its much easier to land a high status career for some reason.

I am curious if there is a polite way to avoid answering this question, even if it means lying.

I think it’s a bit of a leap to go from people identifying themselves by their profession to not valuing human life as a country.

The cynicism is uncalled for.

The culture of places are not so well defined in America. It is a new nation of immigrants. Europeans may have lived in the same towns for hundreds or thousands of years. American is less than 250 years old.

Americans identify as individuals. An individual is identified by personal accomplishments or work. Alternatively, a group identity might define a person by location or family name. The root question "who are you?" is asked depending on what approach you take. Identity is a subjective social construct; neither approach is more right than the other.

I posted above but recently moved back to Southern Lousiana. While I cannot trace back thousands of years I can trace back to my great-grandfather who was a shrimp boat captain in the same region I live now; I could back further if my grandmother would stay focus on the task at hand. Furthermore, Cajun culture has maintained their traditions which I believe is the most important aspect of maintaining a group identity, sharing those values.

Not much of a leap though. We sell a much bigger majority of our waking hours to live. With less economic security, people constantly have to move away from friends, family and community to stay employed. End result, we end up constantly working and alienated from each other. When you consider that “human life” can and SHOULD mean so much more than “having a pulse”, I don't think the parent comment was inaccurate at all.

The same can be said about everyone feeling the need to go to college, at the best schools they can get into, at any price tag paid for by loans to try to get the most successful job offered in a city somewhere.

Most of us would be able to get perfectly good jobs in our own home towns, earning a modest living near where we grew up via the trades, real estate, teaching, selling insurance, etc.

We chose to pursue more because the opportunities are there and we want them. That's because of how much we value ourselves and the extraordinary opportunities that we have in our lives. It has nothing to do with how we value others.

I'm very successful and I'm thankful for the opportunities that have put me where I am. I enjoy my work and I'm thankful for that. I also had a stretch where I worked really hard and alienated myself.

But that is a problem that I also chose to fix.

I made an effort to get to know my neighbors, to invite them to lunch, to join a local church, to get involved in a local rotary club, to meet local small business owners. There's a surprisingly large amount of people who are more than happy to grab a bite for lunch and as you get to know people better, you invite them to other things when you discover you share interests. Making friends in a new area takes a little bit of work, but it's more than worth the time.

Ask someone who doesn't have a job how they feel about that statement. [Clarification: I have a job but like a lot of people have had times when I was without one].

I've gone through periods of unemployment and will still answer with my profession, with the caveat that I'm looking for work. Just because you aren't currently working doesn't mean what you "do" has changed. People are usually looking for your background or ambitions, not necessarily occupation.

Agreed. Though, I don't think it's incorrect. For that, merely see our poor, our community programs, etc.

I'm shocked we have Medicare to be honest. Though, it's been highly debated for quite some time, so we only barely have it, and many would prefer we didn't have it. (at least, until they themselves get old...)

"people ask where you're from"

There's a trope in India where, especially if you look like you are from a lower social caste, people ask you your name, and if you reply with just your first name, insist on knowing your last name, which is of course a primary caste marker for a lot of people.

Asking where someone's from is no different. The answer can be used to silently judge the other person based on the zillion subtle class distinction Europe has, and worse, can't be controlled by an individual, just as you did just now to judge Americans with some hand-wavy pop-sociology.

I can't change where I am from, but I have some control on what I do.

I am also occasionally asking where someone is from (I'm from europe) and I do this to learn about the (to me) probably unknown culture.

If I feel someone could be offended by asking this, I won't do it.

" It's how Americans define themselves, which, in the end, generally comes down to how the US doesn't value human life, only the potential earnings thereof."

I agree with your observations but this conclusion goes way too far.

I was about to write the same thing.

Maybe I'm just being defensive as an American, but I feel like the reason that we tend to define ourselves by what we do tends to be that we put a lot of emphasis on taking pride in our work.

I would agree that this is probably done too much, since I was being drilled on what I want to do for a living even in grade school, but I don't know that the conclusion of "omg Americans don't value human life" logically follows. The only conclusion that I think can be reasonably drawn is "Americans sure seem to put a lot of value on work".

Or it puts an emphasis on our social class, creating an immediate hierarchy to those who don't have the choice to have such a prestigious job.

Sure, fair enough, I wouldn't disagree with that, but that still doesn't inherently mean that Americans are "anti-human".

I don't think the conclusion is that far off, actually. Ask Americans why they are so afraid of things like single payer and you'll see how quickly they place a dollar value on human life. Most especially the lives of people different from them.

I'm for single-payer, but when I've asked my grandmother about why she doesn't want it, she has said "the government wouldn't do it right, the free market can do it better".

I completely disagree with her, and I think she's measurably incorrect about that, but that's not an anti-human stance.

Try asking her to elaborate on how the government would screw it up.

I did; she gave abstract examples of "look at the post office" or "look at the DMV", which I guess in her mind are examples of government inefficiency.

I don't really talk to her anymore due to her saying some really horribly racist stuff about my wife a couple years ago, so I'm afraid I won't be able to get her to elaborate more.

Maybe from that one data point. But in general, it's very clear that the U.S. favors GDP over human life. There's plenty of data and examples to prove it. The price of medication, the cost of healthcare, homelessness, the people we kill in the Middle East, etc.

And yet, America is directly responsible for the lifting of a billion people out of poverty through trade - far more than any social assistance program in history.

Not because of any value for human life. The economy only cares about human life insomuch as a person's productivity and spending power.

Didn't the US have only about 330 million people or so?

You seem to be forgetting the billions of people in China. Who do you think buys most of the stuff China exports?

There's not "billions of people in China", there's about 1 billion and 400 million. That's a minor nitpick compared to my other points though.

China exports worldwide, see these examples:



It's not just the US buying from them. Everyone's buying Chinese goods and services.

More than that, the US didn't raise anyone in China out of poverty. Like it didn't raise South Koreans or Iraqis or Aghans or Germans, etc.

The Chinese raised China out of poverty. Nobody's buying Chinese goods out of the goodness of their hearts, they're buying it because they're cost effective. They're buying them quite rationally.

The only thing the US did was allow them to trade, which we go by American values, should be a sort of universal human right. Now that the US is getting the short end of the stick, should we suddenly become hypocrites and say that China's abusing the system the US used and abused for so long? :-)

People's first question is always "What do you do?" at parties and at events.

I've found that to be a coastal thing, not an American thing.

In Denver, "what do you do?" is likely to elicit a response like "I rock climb" and not "I'm a developer."

Lol. Funny how someone thinks Europe values human life more than the United States. A light skimming history books would do you wonders. Europe has killed scores more.

This is partially true.

I recently moved back to southern Louisiana as all my family lives and is from here. One major difference I've noticed, not once have I been asked what I do for a living. No one ever talks about work or what they do. The culture down here is certainly different from the rest of the United States. Granted I've primarily lived in various areas of the Pacific North West but traveled throughout.

> generally comes down to how the US doesn't value human life

That's a pretty big leap from making small talk with a stranger to how one views existence.

Many places in Europe also organize themselves into castes based on education, and the second question will then be "where did you go to school". Some places will even triage your quality of hospital care based on what degree you have attained. I'll take the US approach, thanks.

I might add that this might be specific to the kind of circles you run in. Either way, this conclusion is far too absolute and a hasty generalization.

FWIW, asking someone where they're from can have really negative connotations. It sounds like "you're not one of us" to a lot of people. In the US it's an ideal not to judge someone by where they're from (sadly many do just that), but rather accept that they're here now and that's the important part. So while it can make for good conversation to learn more about a person's background, the topic is often avoided at first to avoid insinuating that the questioner is prejudiced against certain backgrounds. If more people actually held to that ideal, this probably wouldn't be as necessary, but there it is.

Work gives our lives meaning. There may be other sources of meaning but work is a big one. It’s a service we do for others, even though we may have self-interest in financial, emotional, intellectual, or other forms of compensation.

You've been had. Work is a calculated tradeoff of time to support/gather wealth yourself, your loved ones, and your heirs to ensure your line's continued security; you can't use it as a complete meaning unto itself, or as a way to offset the guilt of a life of completely empty hedonism. In industrialized work, there is nothing special to what you do for the world, and you won't be missed but for the immediate moment when you are gone. It's something you can have fun doing, and perhaps have pride in doing well, but how many websites you made that were thrown away within 5 years won't give you any peace on your death bed.

Speak for yourself. I don't feel like I find any significant meaning in my job, it's just what I do because I need money.

Europe is not one thing, and so is America not one culture. Spanish friends moving to Germany often complain how the first question on any party is: so what do you do for a living. Well, and that’s in southern Germany. The north might be different.

In New Orleans, “what do you do?” was definitely less common as an opening question before the storm. Unfortunately, it was and often still is usually replaced with “Where did you go to high school?”

> When I'm in Europe, people ask where you're from, what's for dinner, and what's happening? The question of your job is rarely asked up front, I find.

Meh, I don't agree with this observation. This is true in america too.

> US doesn't value human life

It does. US is the biggest aid provider in the world. You can put a cynical spin on the motivations behind that but even a regular US citizen gives more to chairty than anywhere else in the world. US is also the biggest pharma innovator in the world.

Since we are throwing out wild theories. here is mine.

Software kinds in europe are jealous of high wages in USA and try to justify their pitiful pay by attributing themselves with some sort of moral superiority. " I might be poor but atleaest I have a good heart"


Please don't post partisan flamebait to HN.


Is the US economy so fragile that it can be thought-crimed into a recession?

This fear has nothing to do with any politician or political party and everything to do with the trauma from ‘08

> Is the US economy so fragile that it can be thought-crimed into a recession?

I think those in Behavioral Finance would argue yes, at least to a certain extent.


There are some people with trauma from 2000/2001.

All economies are subject to this because markets are based on trust and faith. If enough doubt is generated then the markets will reflect that in a downturn.

Isn't there a pretty big gulf between losing faith in a market and thinking there's a recession around the corner? A breakdown in trust in a market would more closely resemble an economic collapse rather than a a few quarters of contraction, wouldn't it?

I think you're underestimating the amount of randomness at play in complex interconnected systems like markets.

Forget the media, ask the former Federal Reserve president who literally wrote that "if the goal of monetary policy is to achieve the best long-term economic outcome, then Fed officials should consider how their decisions will affect the political outcome in 2020."

[1] https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2019-08-27/the-fe...

A recession will eventually happen, it happens about every 10 years. The mainstream media isn't talking about it to get rid of Trump.

EDIT: not sure why I'm being downvoted, but I'm guessing it's because I messed up the average length of the cycle. I guess it's probably closer to 5 years: https://www.investopedia.com/ask/answers/071315/what-average...

>The mainstream media isn't talking about it to get rid of Trump.

That has became a bit of a meme ever since Bill Maher pointed out recession would both prevent Trump's reelection and also judged it as preferable over Trump.

"Well, you should wish for a recession,” Maher said, interrupting Nichols. “'Cause that will definitely get him [Trump] unelected." [1]

He followed it up with more of the same in a later episode [2].


[1] https://www.washingtonexaminer.com/news/hbos-maher-prefers-r...

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=joxYLYD5eoQ

You can find other political pundits that'll say that a recession would help Trump get elected, and I personally view that as the case.

Citation? Can you find the analysis that a recession would help Trump get re-elected?

Because I have the opposite as historical fact. That in the 1900s the only incumbent presidents to have lost re-election were those that campaigned during a recession (two irrc, maybe three).

Regardless of one's opinion on Trump, the media basically switched from Russian conspiracy theories to recession paranoia in the span of about a week. That week being the time of Mueller's presentation to congress.

C'mon now, there's also the "this week in dumb decisions" section. We're still riding the wave from Sharpie-gate.

I couldn't bring myself to even click on those. The media has cried wolf for so long with Trump, if I see a headline saying "Trump to start WW3", I'm just going to think, boy, the NY Times just keeps hitting new lows and not even click it.

Your example of the "media crying wolf" on Trump has left members of his inner circle in jail for lying about their connections to Russia. Hardly "crying wolf".

You didn't see that the man literally drew an extra, obviously out of place circle on the official hurricane projection map to make his previous erroneous tweet seem correct? You're missing out. While the error itself is unlikely to start WW3 or tank the stock market, it certainly does cause one to ask questions.

The Trump admin has been doing that stuff from day one with the "alternative facts" thing. I can't keep up with every unpresidential move these guys make. On the plus side, I did just see Trump just fired Bolton which makes war feel a bit less likely.

He'll just nominate Elliot Abrams to replace him.


Probably not. I find Sanders' support of the military industrial entertainment complex troubling.

Remembering the 1992 election, the press kept hammering "recession recession recession" despite the recession itself being over for about a year. Job numbers had been growing for months, but still it was "recession recession recession" over and over again in the press right up through the election, but not after. The New York Times was talking about the "Clinton Recovery" months before Clinton was even in the White House. The mainstream media is more than willing to exaggerate, even beyond the point of deception, in order to elect the candidates they are campaigning for.

Why was the mainstream media campaigning for Clinton?

He was the Democrat and once the pile on started, it never let up.

So you are saying the media campaigns for democrats? Doesn't seem likely to me.

stric9 7 months ago [flagged]

Worst comment of the day. Consider yourself downvoted, Trumpy.

We've banned this account for breaking the site guidelines.

If you don't want to be banned, you're welcome to email hn@ycombinator.com and give us reason to believe that you'll follow the rules in the future.


Well, we had amazing 10 year bull market run so far. just look at your 401Ks performance from 2009 to 2019!

1-2-3 year shake down / or a mini recession would be technically completely normal and totally expected. at least by me.

get your things/portfolios in order fellas ;)

> Americans' fear of losing their jobs

Unemployment rate in the US is only 3.7% (July 2019) Employee fears that they are replaceable and the truth is that most of them are. So they are working hard, they perform, they are productive and economy is better than it has ever been!

I am french and where I worked it is nearly impossible to fire a long-term contract employes (CDI). Most of them do less than the bare minimum at work. Then entire company is taking a hit.

So IMO the fear to loose their job is a great boost!

Unemployment rate is an essentially-fraudlent statistic.

Changes in the labour force participation rate are more revealing: https://data.bls.gov/timeseries/LNS11300000

Zooming that graph out to start in 1980 shows that there is a trend there that did not start in 2009 but closer to 2000.

Also, that specific graph is of limited utility because it is the over-16 labor force participation rate, not the prime-age one. Which means that as the age distribution skews more toward post-retirement-age people it will automatically drop. Which is exactly what's been happening, by the way, as the baby boomers have started retiring. This rate will also drop as more people go to college instead of starting work immediately after high school.

https://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2017/employment-population-rati... has a chart that lets you see a breakdown by age group, sort of, for 2007-2017. Note the huge differences in the rate between the age buckets and where the overall rate falls compared to the 25-54 rate.

Save some money, then you don’t need to fear losing your job. Fear of losing your job is a result of poor personal finances.

There’s no need to fear if you have your personal finances in order.

Apparently you've never lived "paycheck to paycheck" before. I can remember a time in my life where I would be so happy just to have an extra $100 at the end of the month. This was living with roommates, never going out, and bringing my lunch everyday. No frivolous spending at all.

God forbid you have to fix your car, or some other unexpected expense. That $1,000 it took you 6 months to save is gone in an instant.

While I'm much better off these days, lots of Americans live the way I just described. You can't save what you don't have.

I have. If someone can’t save a few hundred bucks a month something is wrong.

Let’s use Dallas TX for example, even just waiting on tables you can make at least twice rent. Forgo a car and you’d be able to pocket $500 / mo or more if one was frugal.

It’s even more critical to save when at the bottom of the economic ladder, because it allows one freedom to pursue or invest in other opportunities (paying for school, moving, weathering unemployment, etc.)

This is an absolutely incorrect and unrealistic estimation for the majority of the people waiting tables. I started writing up a long thing calculating this out and stopped myself. I am going to assume you are commenting in good faith, so I'll just state the correct information would be extremely quick for you to research with a few google searches..

This is great advice in general, but FU money gets tricky when you have negative interest rates on deck.

We are one stock market pull back away from catastrophe even for wealthy boomers.

Interesting times.

I've never lost a job in 20 years of full-time employment. Every new job has been a step up in pay/prestige/responsibility/etc. I've always been able to job hop with ease, when necessary.

My parents never fought job loss when I was growing up, although sometimes times were tight on a single professional income.

We're a dual-income no kids couple with a mortgage and few 'real' responsibilities.

We have plenty of savings in the bank.

I will never not worry about losing a job. I don't WANT to draw down my savings, for any reason. I don't WANT to have to worry about how long it will last, where the next paycheck will come from.

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