business

From today’s New York Times:

Many economists — concerned about the sluggish pace of job creation, dwindling housing activity and decelerating retail sales — say that slowdown is continuing this summer and have recently downgraded their expectations for the second half of the year.

Read more here.

Start-up activity, which got a boost from the recession as millions of people looked for new work opportunities or rethought their careers, is on the slide. According to a new survey by executive outplacement firm Challenger, Gray and Christmas, 3.7 percent of job seekers were looking to start something up in the first half of 2010. That’s a big drop from the 7.6 percent in the first half of 2009. That’s a low point since 1986, when the company began tracking this stuff.

What gives? It could be that more people are getting jobs and…

Two major companies announced major changes today. San Francisco bank Wells Fargo is eliminating 3,800 jobs as part of a “restructuring”–a small number compared to the 278,000 who work for the company, but big for the people who will lose jobs. More than 638 independent consumer finance offices will be closed.

Meanwhile, pharma firm Merck is closing eight plans and eight research sites, including two outposts in the US. It’s canning a whopping 16,000…

A daily review of the employment fallout around the country and the world.

Today’s Total: 5,788

Chevron will lay off 2,000 workers this year… The financial crisis described by Westchester County Exec Rob Astorino may result in up to 1,600 county layoffs… Irish airline Aer Lingus is laying off 670 employees under a new restructuring plan…the Montgomery County Public School System in Alabama is axing 600 peopleSt. Mary’s paper in Canada will let go 300….Ceva Logistics in Indiana is letting go all 200 employeesThe Minnesota Department of Human Services will cut 200 jobs from a mental illness care program… 110 workers have been temporarily laid off as Sierra Pacific Industries abridge operations at the Chinese Camp, CA cedar mill…NRG Energy will eliminate 70 jobs in Connecticut… 20 police officers are in danger of being laid off in Atlantic City 18 special education teachers have been laid off from the D.C. School System The Daily Press, subsidiary of the Tribune Co., will be instituting about 10 percent employee layoffs among the staff of 84…

At the risk of stating the obvious, skill, talent, and seniority no longer guarantee job security. And blackmail and corporate espionage aren’t great alternative strategies — it’s generally better to get canned than to get jailed.

But there are ways to you reduce your chances of getting targeted during the next round of layoffs. After all, every workplace has a few key players whose bosses believe the place couldn’t run without them — whether it’s the person who can run a finicky fax machine or the only staffer who maintains a good rapport with a difficult client. These people tend to be the same ones who avoid layoffs time and time again.

You can become one of them — without a lot of hard work but with a good dose of sucking up. Here are five other tips to follow…

Successful entrepreneurs need to have an outsized appetite for risk. They have to thrill to danger, relish the idea that they might lose it all with one roll of the dice.

Right?

Wrong, obviously, or we wouldn’t have written it that way. (Also, we probably would not have started a business.)

Many people have debunked those ideas, most recently Malcolm Gladwell, writing in the New Yorker. Using as examples Ted Turner and John Paulson, who famously made billions betting against the housing bubble, he argues that successful entrepreneurs are not braver than everyone else. Instead, they are very good at finding opportunities to minimize risk so they don’t have to be brave….

Personal branding is essential, whether you are just starting out in your first job, or moving up a rung on the career ladder. It’s something you need to work on so when you ask yourself the question, “Who am I?” you’ll know the answer and be able to communicate it clearly and concisely.

Some people confuse their personal brand with their “elevator speech.” The term “elevator speech” trivializes an important process that will help you understand exactly what makes you stand out from the crowd.

Your brand influences how important internal and external audiences, including your boss, your customers and prospects perceive you and what they think you have to offer them. Another way of understanding branding is that it’s the words you would want people to use in describing you.

Branding is what sets you apart from your competition. Let’s look at the brands of some famous companies and people. FedEx, for example, is positioned as the company that you can rely on to deliver your package by 10:30 tomorrow morning. Absolutely, positively. Google is the leader in search, and continues to be. The advent of new competition has hardly made a dent in its market share….

The Wall Street Journal is calling this the “age of going solo.” The reasons are obvious: more people are working independently, because they gave up on the corporate world or were chucked out. A startling 20-plus percent of US workers are freelancers, consultants, contractors or (my personal favorite) “micropreneurs.”

Are you one of them? Could you be? The Journal’s story by Richard Greenwald offers some powerful tips on how to succeed. Read the original article for more, like what to beware of in a professional network.

Think long term

You might see this as a temporary, in-between jobs situation. But it might not be. And if you think of it that way, you won’t be very good at it. And with competition for gigs fierce, your halfhearted approach won’t make you a pile of money.

Learn and teach

You need cutting-edge skills, both to justify your rates and improve your chances of getting a full-time gig, should you want one.

Talk about upside potential.

In the recession, lots of entrepreneurs have had to bootstrap their startups. They’re dying for talent, but can’t pay salaries. Meawhile, there are lots of smart people willing to work for, um, “alternative” compensation (i.e., equity, low pay, or nothing), because they want to build their resume, take a shot at a startup or just do something with their unemployed selves.

Enter JobNob.

Our smart friends at JobNob bring the two sides together. They have held eight successful mixers in Silicon Valley for job-seekers to connect with startups, and they’re brining the show to New York on Feb. 9…

Isn’t it nice to be validated? For more than a year, we’ve been talking about all the new businesses that would be started as a result of the recession. We knew there were people who felt liberated by being laid off or by quitting miserable jobs, and others who were launching start-ups because they didn’t see any job openings out there.

According to a new survey by Challenger, Gray & Christmas, 8.6 percent of unemployed managers and executives started started businesses last year, a four-year high.

“The start-up rate might have been even higher if banks had loosened their lending standards,” pointed out John Challenger, the company’s CEO…