The Obama Administration has finally begun to address the real issue with the American job market: The current unemployment rate is going to remain “unacceptably high” for a long time. What they failed to address is that many of the alleviated jobs will never be recreated or filled. American business has learned to get lean and mean. And that is an asset that eventually will lead to stronger, better managed, profitable companies. The silver spoon we have all gotten used to may taste bitter for a while longer.
Geitner addressed the un-addressable. With unemployment numbers bordering on 15million jobless Americans – 9.7% of the available American workforce- everyone is concerned as to when the job rate will begin to decline. But watching the monthly unemployment numbers with the idea they are going to decrease in the near future may be a disappointing waste of time.
We can all realize the economy is turning around, ever-so-slightly. And many people who have tightened their spending are beginning to loosen their purse-strings. But the fact remains there are millions of people who have lost their jobs and have no chance of securing a position in the industry they once worked. This is a devastating problem for their families. .
However, the economy will rebound without a decrease in unemployment numbers. What nobody in the Obama administration wants to discuss is American business owners over-hired during the economic boom, creating positions that were based on expansion.
Thousands of companies filled desks and cubicles with research and development departments. Restaurants brought in armies of kitchen employees to intricately create small plates that take hours of prep time. Dining room serving staffs were increased as owners attempted to offer the ultimate in customer service. And while many of those created positions seemed important at the time, most of the alleviated jobs will never be recreated. We have learned to live without them. We have opted for compact professionalism and a tighter, more focused work ethic, to achieve the same, if not better results. Although waste lines are still expanding- we have tightened our belts.
The President’s message has always been that “tough times make for better, more resilient people.” He is right. And, it didn’t take long for American businessmen to realize that in rough times you cut positions, lower payroll and increase productivity with the employees still employed.
The recent recession has been a wake-up call for business owners and managers. And many employees who once took their jobs for granted have acquired a stronger work ethic and better attitude as they fear the alternative of not working.
Obama has always highlighted the importance of the American work ethic and nothing increases an employee’s appreciation for a job more than a 9.7% unemployment rate. The fact that the waiter that you shared stories with after closing is no longer on the shift sheet and that your favorite sous chef is now unemployed brings out the professionalism in even the worst employee. Unemployment is the best attitude adjustor any owner can ask for.
The dilemma facing the administration is not recreating the recently alleviated positions, but spurning new industry that can educate, train and rehire unemployed individuals.
For the restaurant business, the economic downturn has been difficult to absorb. But through careful cost cutting measures and implementing controls, the industry’s top performing restaurants have managed to maintain profits. For the small chains and single unit operators, the ability to change menus quickly and cut back on staff while increasing productivity have been their secret saving tool,
Many restaurants have gone the route of “comfort food” in order to cut back on kitchen staff. Restaurateurs have become comfortable with fewer employees and will have a difficult time adding payroll even when business increases. And, waiters who have larger sections and may be making more tips because of it are also satisfied with the recent cutbacks as long as they are not on the cutback list.
As the economy strengthens and the stock market reaches 11,000, many of the restaurant owners who have made cuts and developed controls will not revert back to the days of waste and replenishment.
We have a history. When times are good and money is flowing we often take our eyes off the ball. We tend to be less disciplined, more flamboyant, and the 1-2% fluctuation in food and liquor cost doesn’t matter as long as the outstanding profits continue to continue.
Yet, as soon as the bottom falls out and profits dissipate it is only human nature to enter survival mode. We suddenly make the needed cut backs, adapt to a less profitable climate and strive to create new ways to decrease spending and regain profits.
It’s the evolution of the shake-out cycle. And although we all know it, and we all quietly discuss it, nobody, especially the Obama Administration, wants to admit to the public that the economy will recover for some, but not for all.
Because when all else fails, hope is substance.