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Friday, April 1, 2011

Employment continues to gain strength in numbers. But there's more to that story.

A few moments ago, news alerts from both the New York Times and the Washington Post flashed on my screen: The unemployment rate continues to fall, even if modestly. The U.S. economy added more than 200,000 jobs last month. Click here to see the Post story, or here to review the Times version.)

One of things that I’m watching, though—along with a lot of other people—is the type of employment that folks are finding. Yesterday, a story from the NY Times explained how some folks have had to move down a few rungs on their corporate ladder… or they might be on an entirely different career path than before. Still others might be working two or more jobs, in an effort to replace the primary job they used to have. Click here to see that story.

Implications: I must tell you that I’m delighted to end any week with news that jobs are being added to the economy at a rate faster than analysts expected. But if you’re in business, that’s a broad-brush issue that doesn’t tell the whole story.

If someone has had to step down in income or position, it will impact their behavior as a consumer. Chances are, the new job (or jobs) will lead to some career intensity, as people struggle to get back to the income and lifestyle they once knew. And even in households where no job loss was suffered, job cuts at their company were likely to create more demand on each employee, so those workers are working harder, too.

Is your company, product or service designed to save the consumer time? (Many people are under more time pressure than ever!) Are you talking about that in your marketing efforts? Time sensitivity was a huge issue even before the recession. And while some people began placing more importance on saving money than paying a premium for convenience… time sensitivity did not just evaporate. It’s still putting a lot of pressure on many consumers.

Mike Anderson, for the Elm Street Economics consumer trends blog. A service of The Center for Sales Strategy, Inc.

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