I keep on hearing about all the companies announcing layoffs, and then some cumulative numbers, but I found I was having a hard time wrapping my mind about what this means, really.
So I started to take apart the numbers- just those at the bigger companies, really, and announced recently- I got 138,579 just in the past week or so. And this is across many industries- retail, manufacturing, autos, transportation, hospitals, state jobs, pharmaceuticals, technology, finance, media and more- no one’s job seems really safe.
The 138,579 people who will lose their jobs in my count would fill the Eagle’s football stadium to capacity twice over.
Each of these people then have to find some other source of income, and hopefully at similar wages as before. But many of them will not be able to go back to similar jobs. Manufacturing may be at lower levels for years. People working in retail are seeing tons of stores closing, and certainly not enough opening up to make up for those job losses. Just like when the auto industry downsized a number of years ago, some of those people had to accept this was then end of working in manufacturing for them forever, and they had to find new jobs in new sectors, or even relocate to find employment.
There’s a real, human side to this story that gets lost in the big numbers. It misses the fact that a family, living in a community for many years, may be forced to leave and relocate across the country for new jobs. That family has to sever the ties that maybe kept them afloat socially and emotionally- everyone has to leave friends, community organizations they may have participated in like the PTO, Lyons Club- Boy Scouts- who knows what else? And the loss of those experienced, involved people is a loss of more than a job- it’s a loss of infrastructure, of intellectual capital, of part of the warp of the fabric of a community. This is why foreclosures and job losses are so much more than a number on a spreadsheet. It is a drop in the bucket of real human pain, being felt in ripples, becoming waves, across our Country. The job losses start to eat away at the woven fabric that keeps us all close, and that’s something that should concern us all.