Tuesday, January 4, 2011
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Job Outlook 2011
With unemployment at record levels, it's easy to think we can only get better from here. Yet the length of time we've remained at these levels makes one wonder if that's actually the case.
Historically, job creation has always been the last area to rebound after a recession. It's typically taken about two years for the economy to stabilize enough for companies to start hiring again. We're about at that point now.
Businesses have become more efficient during the downturn. They had to learn how to do more with fewer resources, both human and monetary. In so doing, profit margins began to increase. Now that consumers are spending once again, their bottom line is improving. It's time to beef up the workforce to keep pace with the increased demand for whatever widget they're bringing to market.
Those over the age of 50 were particularly hard hit when it came to layoffs. A lot of those in middle management levels were in that age range, and those in the middle were often deemed most expendable.
As hiring resumes, companies are finding that younger workers don't require the same salary level as those with more experience. They have fewer obligations than a homeowner raising a family. Those that have the most to offer often struggle the longest to find a job.
Job hunting is a far different experience than it was before this recession began. Hiring managers have piles of unsolicited resumes to pour through before an opening even becomes available. No need to post a classified ad. They don't have the time to review resumes already received, why request more?
Most positions are now filled before an opening is even announced by someone referred by a co-worker, friend, family member, business associate, etc. Networking is your best opportunity to find gainful employment.
Use your job-hunting time to volunteer your services to a non-profit group. You'll meet others with similar skills and interests who can recommend you when they know of someone hiring.
Faith-based job groups are becoming popular. They offer support and compassion at a time when it's most needed. And a congregation full of people who may know of a job you could fill. Many provide resources to believers and nonbelievers alike, keeping their service geared towards enhancing job-hunting skills.
Industry undergoes continual evolution, those that once prospered give way to more modern fields. Some occupations are gone forever. Learning new job skills may be necessary for any hope of landing a job.
The healthcare industry is one area you might consider. They never faced a downturn. No matter what your skills or interests, there is need to be filled here.
Sales are picking up again. So are available sales-related jobs. Dollar General is planning to open 625 new stores in 2011, and expects to hire 6000 people to staff them.
Computer services are back in high demand. Smartphones and netbooks require new applications be written.
Trucking and transportation are on the upswing. It's estimated that there are about five jobs for every truck driver right now.
Administrative and support staff is beginning to recover, now that business is starting to pick up. There wasn't much to support during the downturn.
Manufacturing, construction and government positions are expected to remain in a decline.
You may need to be a little more creative than in the past, or consider options that would never have crossed your mind. But the options are out there. This new year may signal a new beginning for you.
By now, most of us have grown accustomed to the E-10 ethanol blend in our fuel. The mixture contains 10 percent corn ethanol to 90 percent gasoline. We know how it affects our car's gas mileage and what impact it has on motorcycles, boat motors or gas-powered outdoor tools.
The EPA delayed a decision on permitting an increase to 15 percent ethanol (E-15) early last year until further testing could be conducted on its usage. This brought hope that the agency finally heard from enough angry consumers to rethink the strategy.
Wrong. In October, they approved the increase for vehicles built in 2007 or later. Whether or not they extend this back to 2001 model vehicles will be known shortly, as they are still studying test results to determine its impact on older models.
No matter which way they rule on this, we're heading for a heap of trouble.
EPA tests focused on automobile emissions, nothing else. They determine whether the mixture harms emissions control equipment by testing residue on the tailpipe. No evidence of degradation of the catalytic converter, therefore it's good to go.
I could sure wish all of life were that simplistic. Using that same methodology, cigarette smoking can't pose a problem as long as my hair keeps growing.
The logistics of offering different blends of fuel can be a nightmare for gas station owners, and wreak havoc on consumers who accidentally grab the wrong pump.
Most gas stations would have to install a separate pump for the additional product at an estimated cost of $20,000. A large label will have to be affixed to the pump to clearly identify the product as suitable for model years 2007 or newer.
As the blend has less oil-based fuel, it's likely to cost less. Penny-pinching consumers will typically grab the nozzle with the lowest price displayed and unknowingly fill their tank with a mixture that can destroy their engine.
The proposed ethanol increase may not yet be a done deal. Suit has been filed in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia district by an alliance of engine manufacturers who claim tests were not properly conducted prior to reaching this decision. Among the members of the new Engine Products Group are the Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers, the Association of International Automobile Manufacturers, the National Marine Manufacturers Association and the Outdoor Power Equipment Institute. Ford Motor Co. and General Motors joined their ranks shortly after the alliance was announced.
In other words, folks who should know how engines respond to E-15.
My husband and I are among this group of folks. We own a small engine sales/repair shop and can vouch for the damage done to outdoor power equipment first hand.
Here's a tip for the unemployed seeking steady work: learn how to repair a small engine. This is one occupation in high demand as the EPA ignores industries it deems not-large-enough to warrant its attention.
Why all the ethanol problems?
Gums rapidly form in the fuel tank and fuel delivery systems as ethanol fuel ages. It's a powerful solvent that strips away and disperses this buildup back into the fuel as large sediment particles. This clogs filters, injectors and carburetors.
Ethanol fuel breaks down over a short time. The fuel loses octane, becoming stale. You'll notice hard starts, pinging and engine knock and loss of power that can damage your engine. No longer can you leave fuel stored while your lawnmower takes a long winter's nap. Come spring that fuel has turned to a varnish-like state. Pouring it into your mower's fuel tank as you always did will lead you straight to the repair shop.
Ethanol attracts moisture from the atmosphere, forming an ethanol/water solution mixed in the gasoline. E-10 fuel naturally holds .5 percent water in suspension. When water levels exceed this, or when the fuel cools, the mix drops out of suspension causing separation. Water in the tank causes engines to run rough, stall and damage internal components. When separated, the remaining fuel is left without enough octane to properly operate the engine.
Ethanol fuel does not produce as much energy as traditional fuel. This results in inefficient combustion, decreased performance, reduced throttle response and poor fuel economy.
We live in an area known as a fishing and boating tourist destination. Marine-grade fuel, the old-fashioned type without ethanol, is readily available. So I conducted a series of tests to compare fuel efficiency between gasoline and E-10 on three different vehicles. The results were identical regardless of it being a mid-size automobile, SUV or van. The mileage using the E-10 blend was a full 10 percent less than what we got with regular gasoline. I would expect to see a more significant difference with an increased percentage of ethanol.
Other groups opposing the measure are the American Meat Institute, the Grocery Manufacturers Association, the National Council of Chain Restaurants and the American Frozen Food Institute. They fear that the move could result in more than 40 percent of the nation's corn crop being used for fuel rather than food.
It's not too late to voice your concerns. As Americans, we have a voice in Federal decision-making. Find out how.
The manufacturing component of the economy has good news with factory orders better than expected in November. Orders jumped 0.7 percent to a 0.1 percent increase compared to an expectation of no change. Orders in October fell 0.7 percent according to the Commerce Department. If transportation is excluded, factory orders rose 2.4 percent in November. A large drop in aircraft sales slowed factory orders in that sector. Durables including metals and related machinery as well as electronics were strong.
Internationally, manufacturing increased in both the United States and Europe in December. Growth in China and India slowed but continued to grow. On Tuesday, a report showed that British manufacturing activity expanded at its fastest pace in over 16 years in December, above expectations.
This increase in manufacturing has the effect of increasing the demand on oil and reducing the inventory of oil. United States heating oil demand increases seasonally during the winter months. All of this has pushed oil prices to near the highest price levels since early October 2008, reaching as high as $96 a barrel.
Close to our hearts, gasoline prices have continued to increase along with the price of crude oil. The average price to fill your gas tank was $3.07 a gallon on Monday. Although higher, the average price at this time in 2010 was $2.66 a gallon and $2.92 a month ago. The highest price was July 17, 2008 at $4.11 a gallon.
Higher fuel prices may not be welcome. However, increased manufacturing generally means more jobs. So we look toward the positive side of this news!
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