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Hello and Happy Friday!

Seattle is consumed with Super Bowl fever as the Seahawks take on (and dominate) the Broncos this Sunday. I have never seen so many people in blue and green Seahawks gear. There are giant 12 flags hanging off of construction cranes, buildings, and overpasses all over town.

So, as you might imagine, this weekend a majority of Seattle will be glued to a TV on Sunday. This represents a fantastic opportunity for people who aren’t into football: Ski slopes will be deserted (if any are open, that is-we are up to 70% below normal snowpack in many areas). Stores and malls will be mostly empty. Traffic? What’s traffic?

I am spending Saturday moving some furniture, trying to get more stuff out of our basement by selling it on Craigslist, and making a couple of snacks for the party we are attending Sunday. Should be a productive and fun weekend.

Hope you have a great weekend, and that you are supporting the right team on Sunday. Go Hawks!


Voluntary resignations are on the rise—and that’s good news.

This is the week of employment stats.

Balancing out the not terribly positive news I posted on Monday: Millions of people are quitting their jobs every month. Nearly 2.4 Million people resigned their jobs in November 2013—over a Million more than at the height of the recession. 

At face value, this might not be viewed as positive. Here’s why it is: The number of people voluntarily resigning their positions is a positively correlated sign of consumer confidence. People resigning their jobs signals they have confidence in the economy (they have found another job or are confident they will quickly) and in their own financial situation that they are willing to take a risk on moving to a new role.

People are being more proactive rather than reactive with their career decisions—and that’s a very good thing.

Unemployment Update: States start slashing benefits, Congress still deadlocked

The bad news: Congress hasn’t moved forward on renewing Emergency Unemployment Benefits. At this point it’s uncertain when we will see any movement. That means 1.3 Million Americans actively seeking work have been without any Federal assistance for a month. 

Worse news: If you live in North Carolina, the state General Assembly cut the maximum unemployment benefits from 73 weeks to 12-20 weeks. The net effect of this is the statewide unemployment rate in NC has dropped sharply–from 8.8% to 7.4%. Some of that has been through more people finding jobs; but over 100,000 North Carolinians left the workforce altogether, artificially reducing the unemployment number.

Additionally, if you are still receiving unemployment benefits in NC, that benefit has been significantly reduced–from $500 to $350/week. 

The net effect of these changes is that fewer people can continue to focus on seeking work. Many of these people, who have exhausted their savings and/or didn’t have any savings to begin with, will be forced to seek other forms of assistance to keep their families housed and fed.

Republicans argue that extended unemployment benefits amount to little more than a crutch–that it makes not working too comfortable. 

Reducing or eliminating the safety net may have an impact of getting people back to work–into jobs that would be considered underemployment.

I would be very curious to see how many people have accepted positions with wages significantly below what they made previously–and whether that action has forced them to access other social safety net programs–food banks, food stamps, etc. Unfortunately I haven’t been able to find any data on this yet. If any of you do, please let me know.

There may be some hope on the horizon in NC, though. Senator Kay Hagan amended the Senate bill for extension of the Federal Emergency UI benefits to include a reinstatement of extended UI insurance in NC. It would be in the hands of Gov. Pat McCrory to determine whether extended benefits were reinstated in NC if the Senate bill passes.




Hello and happy Friday.

First off, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention: our home team is headed to the Superbowl next week after beating the 49ers. It’s been fascinating to see how many Seattleites–known for being fairly reserved non-joiners–have caught Seahawks fever. Many friends have started watching the games over the past few weeks, going so far as to decorate their houses and wear fan gear. The night of the NFC Championship win, it was fun to see all of the public celebration. Next Stop: Superbowl Sunday. Go Hawks!

It’s a sunny (albeit chilly) morning here in Seattle. Thanks to it being an El Niño year, we are having a fairly warm and dry winter (which will likely be an issue this Summer when low snowpack = drought conditions for many Western states). It also means that, while a good deal of the United States is having one massive Winter storm after another, our weather has consistently been like this:

And given what havoc these storms are wreaking on the rest of the country, I’m fine with a little morning fog.

Thanks to the very temperate Winter weather, I’ve been getting out in the garden a bit. A few days ago, I was rewarded with my first sign of (early) Spring:

the_right_candidate_crocus_jan_14For those living somewhere that is currently buried under a foot or more of powdery ice, take heart–Spring is on its way. (OK, perhaps a bit later for you.)

Happy Friday, everyone.

“Do what you love” is dangerous–especially for younger workers.

“Do what you love, love what you do.”

It’s been a common phrase for a number of years now, first brought to public attention by Steve Jobs in his oft-quoted 2005 Stanford commencement address.

There has been a lot written about why you should do what you love; that if you identify and pursue your passions, success will follow. That if you align your interests, strengths, and desires you will unlock the door to a career path that ensures making a living never seems like work.

I think is this not only a grossly entitled concept, but that it’s dangerous–especially for students and recent graduates. 16.3% of 18-29 year olds are unemployed or have given up looking for work. That’s over 1.7 Million young adults.

Over a third of recent college graduates (36.7%) are working in jobs that don’t require a degree. That’s a pretty bleak reality check, especially when the cost of a 4 year degree is averaging $91,304 for an in-state public university and $179,000 for a private university. (That’s very near the national average transaction price for a condominium , by the way.)

So, burdened with debt and unable to find a position that values–or monetarily rewards–their degree, new grads are bombarded with this concept that they should pursue careers that only embody the thing they love. Is that realistic in our current economy?

It’s a privilege to have the education, finances, and familial/relational support where you have the freedom to pursue your passions.

Let’s look back at Steve Jobs. Jobs dropped out of a very expensive private liberal arts college and spent time bumming around Portland, OR, sleeping on the floors of friends’ dorm rooms, returning Coke bottles for pocket money, and taking a calligraphy course. After a brief stint at Atari, he went to India to study Eastern philosophy. If Jobs had continued on the ‘do what you love’ course, he would have probably ended up a Zen master.

Instead, his undeniable intelligence in product design and marketing led him back to technology and to be the product, design, and marketing leader that transformed personal technology as we know it (some would say three times: once with the Apple II, again with the Macintosh, and a third time with the iMac/iPod/iPhone/iPad).

It’s important to understand your strengths (what are you best at?), your technical skills (what have you studied?), your values (what is the code you live by? what do you want to do for others?), and what you want to learn/continue learning. Once you understand that fully, you can pursue work that will hopefully engage and fulfill you. But focusing only on that which you love–but which may not be a viable career path–can be disastrous.

January 2014
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