Like many television viewers, I could not resist watching the first episodes of “The Apprentice”, which cemented Donald Trump in the popular imagination as THE mega business celebrity. And who can forget the famous “You’re Fired!” moments? Of course, that was entertainment, and one suspects that even the fired walked away with a fascinating experience and expanded career horizons.
The American public is now going through a much more serious round of “You’re Fired” events, and there is nothing entertaining about it. Three years into the so-called economic recovery, downsizing and layoffs remain a way of life. Indeed, they are increasing. Bloomberg reports that layoffs are at a two year high, as corporations shed jobs at a brisk clip in response to sluggish demand. The statistics are depressing:
North American companies have announced plans to eliminate more than 62,600 positions at home and abroad since Sept. 1, the biggest two-month drop since the start of 2010, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Firings total 158,100 so far this year, more than the 129,000 job cuts in the same period in 2011.
And they are not confined to a couple of troubled sectors. The layoffs are occurring in multiple industries and the diversity of the names is striking: Advanced Micro Devices, Cummins Engine, Dow Chemical, DuPont, Hewlett-Packard and Colgate-Palmolive have all recently announced cuts.
As big business downsizes, small business must step up to the plate to provide badly needed employment. But small business is facing the most challenging regulatory environment in a generation, and risks being swallowed by the whale of Obamacare.
At some point, the citizens have to ask themselves: “Have we been sold a bill of goods about the effectiveness of the stimulus and quantitative easing? Have the chattering classes just lost it? Is this economic recovery real?” The prudent voter knows the answer to these questions. It is high time to do to the current leadership in Washington what Mr. Trump did to many a hapless apprentice. But it’s about survival now, not entertainment