Commoditization of Labor
Date: 122808

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Labor can be cheap in a recession.

Supply and demand bring compensation levels down (or up). Employers realize they can usually find someone else cheaper. Employees should also recognize this fact as well.

Labor pools are filled with people trying to get to the top. We're all trying to get to the top of the pool and there is always a bigger fish swimming in your pool. Being a big fish in a small pool is a good thing. When supply is high, prices are lower. The more fish in the pool the less chance you have at making it to the top. You must work that much harder to reach the top, but it can be achieved.

Labor pools can be deep in a recession

More people are being put into the pool when there is job loss. One must realize there is probably someone else out there who has similar skills and can do your job for less. Therefore, the depth of your pool is very important to remember. Are there a lot of people out there that can do what you do and know as much or as little as you know? Sure there are, it just depends if they're in your pool or not. KSAs are going to help you get out of the deep end of the pool. Look at your own pool (industry) and find out how deep it goes.

Steer clear of Commoditized Trades.

Think about what you do and how you do it. Next, think about your KSAs and what levels you've achieved. Lastly, think about ways you can diversify and build your KSAs. The more you separate your skillset from the rest of the fish in the pool the easier it is to swim to the top or swim around in general. Make yourself stand out more or just get out of your pool and get into another. In any case, just be mindful of the pool you are swimming in and the fish that habitate the pool with you.

When I look at the table below I think of two things: filling and draining of the pools we live in.

-From http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/surveymost

Series Id:           LNS14000000
Seasonal Adjusted
Series title:        (Seas) Unemployment Rate
Labor force status:  Unemployment rate
Type of data:        Percent
Age:                 16 years and over
YearJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecAnnual
19984.64.64.74.34.44.54.54.54.64.54.44.4 
19994.34.44.24.34.24.34.34.24.24.14.14.0 
20004.04.14.03.84.04.04.04.13.93.93.93.9 
20014.24.24.34.44.34.54.64.95.05.35.55.7 
20025.75.75.75.95.85.85.85.75.75.75.96.0 
20035.85.95.96.06.16.36.26.16.16.05.85.7 
20045.75.65.85.65.65.65.55.45.45.55.45.4 
20055.25.45.25.15.15.05.04.95.15.05.04.8 
20064.74.74.74.74.74.64.74.74.54.44.54.4 
20074.64.54.44.54.54.64.74.74.74.84.75.0 
20084.94.85.15.05.55.55.76.16.16.56.7  

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