Sunday, January 1, 2012

A look behind .... A look ahead

“Optimism is the faith that leads to achievement. Nothing can be done without hope and confidence.” – Helen Keller

It is the New Year...2012...full of hope and promise ... we hope!

Before we look ahead, we do need to look behind us a bit at 2011 and what we saw for jobs in our Region. And by the way, I hate looking back at history. You can't change it so why bother! But I guess I have too …

2011 … Bye Bye!

2011 opened with hope and promise after coming off a strong 2010 in the Region where we saw a very active job market to the levels of pre-recession periods. We looked to be cruising for yet another strong year and then it all came to a screeching halt. Frankly employers didn't see promise. Business slowed. Washington could not get their act together and then the credit downgrade which many tried to minimize but was significant.

But those who generate jobs saw this as a threat and investment stopped at prior levels. We sunk into a malize of sorts. Job postings, a leading indicator of jobs, dropped to 2008-2009 levels which are about one- half of where we were in 2010 and prior, pre-2007. And we have stayed there with little change. The decline started in April 2011 and didn’t stop until leveling the past several weeks which in itself is good, albeit if at a much lower level – at least we are not still going backwards.

So in a nutshell ... 2011 was a dud for new job growth. Yes there were, and continue to be great opportunities in the tech markets such Global Foundries and nanotech and this will continue. Private sector employers continued to add jobs, but not to a level to offset public job loses. So at the end of the year – it was flat.

So on to 2012...... Finally!

And there are good signs.

Our recently conducted employment index report in conjunction with my firm Next-Act, CBS 6, ( and the Capital Region Human Resources Association ( reported that 50 percent of local employers are planning to hire more workers in 2012 than 2011. What is significant in this number is the national surveys that report only 23 percent of employers plan to hire new workers (Source: We are about 100% percent higher!

We should also see a stronger impact of the Global Foundries and nanotech development and expansion as the plants become fully operational.

• Consumer confidence, which has long languished, is steadily improving. This usually translates to more buying which in turn leads to more hiring.

• Our Region’s unemployment rate is continuing to drop signaling that more people are finding jobs but even more important, fewer employers are cutting jobs.

• And likely the most significant factor – Optimism. People just seem more positive and optimistic in general . I hear it in discussions with business executives and owners; I hear it from those I talk to in my business who are considering a change in their career.

At the end of the day, optimism fuels growth and prosperity --- personally, professionally and geographically. Without optimism, growth stalls. People “stall” in their growth and development. There is little energy; there is a lack of hope with many.

Optimism: The best medicine to get out of a funk.

Prove it for yourself. Make 2012 your year to shine and prosper. My best wishes for a happy, prosperous and profitable 2012 – in whatever manner you measure profit.

And thank you for reading this. --Dan

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