Dreadful Losses and Rare Opportunities


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The other morning I attended a meeting of my town’s pension committee to review money manager performance and the tension in the air was almost visible. Losses since last fall were about 15 percent: they could have been twice that, judging by the experiences of other towns. Looking at the faces present, it was evident that the full impact of our recession was coming home to the grassroots, and none of those faces had seen such market declines. Local manufacturers are doing layoffs, and thousands are seeking unemployment benefits. From a workforce point of view, there are dreadful losses but also rare opportunities.

For the first time in 20 years, qualified and experienced tool and diemakers are available and eager to land a job. Moldmakers in most parts of the country can grab good talent and put it to work making money. That is, if they have the work and enough cash flow. So therein lies the challenge: hire good people while the chance exists, and hold onto them while the stimulus packages slowly unfold and generate new business in all industries.

The rising tide of money should raise all boats, moldmaking included.

Putting off any layoffs and adding a few good people would seem to be a good investment with highly likely excellent payouts once the economy turns around. How to pay for it?

Look carefully at stimulus workforce programs for incumbent worker training, new skill attainment and job creation incentives. Most give a wage rebate of 50 percent if you have people skilled at doing the paperwork. There is gold in those hills, perhaps enough to carry a firm through hard times without layoffs. Worth looking at!

This recession will end, and coming out of it with an intact and better-qualified workforce would be a distinct competitive advantage. Even a very dark cloud may have a little bit of a silver lining!