Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Where are the jobs?

It's very early in the cycle to be making any long range forecasts, but I've heard more than enough anecdotal evidence to suggest that as the unemployment rate ratchets up, more and more highly educated, highly paid workers are considering and actively seeking work overseas.

The US has long been the great brain drain for the world. The best and brightest have long aspired to live the American Dream with a white picket fence and two BMWs in the driveway (see the related story below "Living on Severance" -HT to Eric I.)

However, as highly skilled jobs remain increasingly difficult to come by, many are beginning to rethink their ties to the USA and starting to look overseas.

"Jeff Joerres, CEO of Manpower, the No. 1 U.S. staffing company, says about 500 clients are seeking jobs abroad, up from a few dozen six months ago.

"It suddenly looks like there may be better opportunities outside the U.S.," Joerres says. "It is a phenomenon we haven't had before."

While the number of globe-trotting job candidates is still relatively small, the trend reverses a longtime pattern of far more foreign workers seeking jobs in the U.S., Joerres says.

Fifty-four percent of executives said they'd be likely or highly likely to accept a foreign post, according to a survey of 114 executives Friday by talent management company Korn/Ferry.

The hottest international job markets include India, China, Brazil, Dubai and Singapore, recruiters say. International companies are largely seeking candidates in engineering, computer technology, manufacturing, investment banking and consulting."

This is a very narrow survey, but it deals with an important demographic - executives. Executives tend to be high wage earners that produce large tax receipts and have a substantial impact on their local communities. Losing people like this to overseas markets would be a disturbing long-term trend if it becomes reality.

I see it in my own industry. People that formerly worked in NY, Boston or Chicago, are relocating to Zurich, Dubai or Mumbai. Something to watch.....

I really wanted to feel sorry for the people profiled in Life on Severance, but they really make it hard to feel bad for them.

"Paul Joegriner hasn't worked since March 2008, when he was laid off from his $200,000-a-year job as chief executive officer of a small bank. But you wouldn't know it by appearances.

His wife, Marzena, shuttles their two young children to private school every morning. The family recently vacationed in Virginia Beach, Va., and likes to dine on Porterhouse steaks. Since losing his job, Mr. Joegriner, 44 years old, has had several offers. He's turned each down in hopes of landing a position comparable to what he held before.

The family's lifestyle over the past year and a half has been propped up by a $200,000 severance package and another $100,000 in savings -- funds the family has burned through rapidly. By Mr. Joegriner's own calculations, the family will be out of money in six months if he doesn't find work."

After working for more than a decade in New York ad shops, Chuck Hipsher moved to Detroit in 2005. He took a position at the Campbell-Ewald agency, where he helped launch the Chevrolet Silverado campaign. Raised riding in the back of his grandfather's Chevy pickup in Iowa, Mr. Hipsher, 50, says he was "elated" at the opportunity.

He met his wife at the ad agency, and the two had a $40,000 wedding. Kelly Hipsher, 32, was laid off in October 2007 and found out she was pregnant in February 2008. A week later, Mr. Hipsher's pink slip followed. Two months after that, the out-of-work couple moved to Greenville, S.C., to be closer to family and get a fresh start. Together, they had received about $60,000 in severance. "Now we have $600 to our name," says Mr. Hipsher.

Although their rent was cheaper, Mr. Hipsher says the family continued to spend like before. They moved with three cars -- two BMWs and a Chevy Silverado. They continued to buy cases of $36-a-bottle wine. They spent $250 a month on a cleaning lady, and Mr. Hipsher dropped $50 a week on flowers for his wife. The couple still dined out regularly.

Before the layoffs, the Hipshers had no debt. Today, they owe about $70,000 -- including money borrowed from family members and $31,000 in credit-card debt. To hold off the collection companies that call daily."

The article generated over 1,000 reader emails for the WSJ.


1 comment:

The Hermit said...

I have to wonder why they got laid off. Answer: They have no common sense and exercise poor judgement.
No job, but keep on spending. Job offers not good enough to take. What ever happened to accept a new job till you find something better? I wouldn't hire them at my company. Would you?
Overseas: Manufacturing went overseas, never to return. Now good talent is following. NYS is loosing people rapidly, so what do the politicains do, raise taxes higher. I can't watch anymore. I earn a living right at my keepboard. I can operate anyplace in the world. Last one out, turn off the lights.