In the fall of 2007, when the U.S. economy first seemed in peril, I began answering reader queries here on the Business Desk. I still do so occasionally, but this page has expanded to include posts from eminent economists, "far-flung correspondents," and a variety of voices that have intriguing and/or useful things to say about economics, broadly defined. Please feel encouraged to respond to any and all of them.
Paul Solman: Last summer, we did one of our favorite stories -- "favorite" in the sense that it really taught us something about the grim state of the job market in the throes of the Great Recession, and the extent to which the official numbers understated the true extent of unemployment.
In the story, we introduced a networking group of out-of-work executives in the Chicago suburb of Bolingbrook. We hear from the group's leader, Peter Sturdivant, whenever one of the eight members we spoke to "lands" -- finds a job.
Given Friday's job numbers -- a surge in employment, but almost all of it census workers -- and that fact that our group of executives is as random a sample as a journalism operation like our economics unit is likely to come by, we asked Sturdivant for a tally thus far. Here's his report:
Of those who were interviewed last summer, here's the list.
John Kessberger is back at his former employer, RR Donnelly on a contract basis, since September of '09.
John Lopata landed in December of '09 at ITT Interconnect Solutions. He has (happily) relocated to Santa Ana, CA.
Barbara Tomczak landed in January of '09. We haven't heard from Barbara since then.
John Leone landed a contract position at Kraft Foods in February of '10.
John Frech landed in March of '10. He accepted a teaching position (Economics) at Kendall College in Chicago. Kendall, by the way, is one of the leading schools of culinary arts in the country. He may be forced to eat some of his student's creations. That poor guy! He is also continuing teaching at Benedictine University. In his spare time, he is pursuing consulting.
Chris DeMaio landed in May of '10. He accepted the CFO position at Equibase Capital.
Bharath Tolappa and myself are still in transition.
In sum, 75 percent back at work in just under a year. That would seem to augur well for the job market. But of course, this is a tiny sample. And not necessarily random either. Just a little bit better than the information we so often rely on in journalism: anecdata.