The latest unemployment figures delivered a weed-whacking to the talk of “green shoots.” The unemployment rate now stands at 9.5 percent, the highest since 1983. But it gets worse. The government’s measure of “labor underutilization,” which includes everybody who’s given up and stopped looking for work, is now at 16.5 percent. We were never all that good at math but we know that’s a lot of people. And the Wall Street Journal estimates the labor underutilization index could soon climb up over 18 percent, which is getting in shouting range of the Great Depression, when one out of four Americans was unemployed.
The long shadow of 2005. Back in the good-old days, before 2005, a lot of people who found themselves out of work could get a loan and start over with a business of their own. And maybe, armed with experience, succeed in their new endeavor. That’s a lot tougher now, thanks in part to the banking industry and its part-time employees (also known as Congress). It was in 2005 that they passed legislation making it much harder to declare Chapter 7, walk away from your bad debts, get new credit and begin again. The result of that legislation: a longer, deeper recession. USA Today reports that new small businesses, which have in the past driven the U.S. out of bad times, are stuck in reverse. So far this year, 350 commercial enterprises have filed for bankruptcy every day, a jump of 240 percent from 2006, which is…yes, the year bankruptcy law was changed.
Numbers tell the story. The Small Business Administration said recently that first-quarter SBA-backed loans were down by a third from the same period last year. That means banks still aren’t spreading the credit around, reports CNN Money, even when the SBA promises to pick up the pieces in case of default. Meanwhile, bank fees are on the way up.
Find small-business services. Here’s another website where you can network with other small businesses and find services — legal, IT, accounting, etc. — from vendors who specialize in small business. It’s called PartnerUp.