Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Mass Media Will Miss the Bottom...Again....

Count on the mass media to miss the "bottom" of the present recession: they always do. You now are seeing headlines about layoffs at larger and mid-sized companies.
Economists now say we have been in recession since December 2007. The only good news there is that one year of the recession already has passed.

So whether you think this is a garden-variety recession or a longer one, the average recession lasts 18 months. By the end of the year we'll have been in recession a full 13 months. And layoffs always are a lagging indicator.

So as you note news reports about job losses, keep one thing in mind: when we reach the peak of the job losses, the recession will have hit bottom and the recovery will have begun.

Peak job losses in the 2001 recession were 325,000, which were reported in October, the last month of that recession. Peak losses during the 1990-91 recessions—306,000—were reported in February 1991, again one month before the recession ended.

During the 1981-82 recession, peak job losses were 343,000, a figured reported four months before the end of the recession. A bottom in the labor market often indicates the near bottom of a recession, since employment is a lagging indicator.

There are implications for service providers. Though not every company is as cash rich as Cisco or Apple, opportunities to take market share or reshape a market always present themselves in a recession.

And there is clear evidence that in some customer segments, such as small business, hiring actually increased every month of 2008, says SurePayroll, a company that makes its living processing employee payroll checks (through the end of November, the last month where data is available).

Hiring tends to drive increased buying of communications products, so whatever weakness you think you will see in the enterprise segment, small business trends could well be quite different.

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