US at 17.5% Unemployed and Underemployed

The New York Times published  an article on November 6th that talked to the point that the “broader measure of unemployment stands at 17.5%“.

The 17.5% rate includes the officially unemployed, who have looked for work in the last four weeks. It also includes discouraged workers, who have looked in the past year, as well as millions of part-time workers who want to be working full time.

The actual rate of underemployment may be even higher since the official government definitions and measures of unemployment miss other underemployment cases.

According to wikipedia, in economics, the term underemployment has three different distinct meanings and applications. All meanings involve a situation in which a person is working, unlike unemployment, where a person who is searching for work cannot find a job.   Underemployment can mean:

  1. The employment of workers with high skill levels in low-wage jobs that do not require such abilities, for example a trained medical doctor who works as a taxi driver.
  2. “Involuntary part-time” workers — workers who could (and would like to) be working for a full work-week but can only find part-time work. By extension, the term is also used in regional planning to describe regions where economic activity rates are unusually low, due to a lack of job opportunities, training opportunities, or due to a lack of services such as childcare and public transportation.
  3. “Overstaffing” or “hidden unemployment”, the practice in which businesses or entire economies employ workers who are not fully occupied—for example, workers currently not being used to produce goods or services due to legal or social restrictions or because the work is highly seasonal.

Former U.S. labour secretary Robert Reich has said that he believes the Unofficial U.S. jobless rate could be as high as 20%.



JobNob – Linking Unemployed and Startups?

I like watching what is going on in Silicon Valley in general.  There are always good tech and trend insights.  But there are also some very innovative ideas related to social innovation.
For instance there is the “JobNob” events being held in the valley.  JobNob links unemployed people with start-ups looking for volunteers to give a win-win to both.   The JobNob pitch is below:
Come “Jobnob” with cool new startups and other job seekers at this informal networking happy hour where unemployed people who want to keep their skills sharp are matched up with startups that could use their help.
  • Bummed Out Job Seekers – are you willing to volunteer at least 5 hours a week for a startup? Help out a startup and you’ll get a leg up on the competition, keep your skills sharp and have some good experience to put on your resume. And when the giant gears of the economy start churning again, you could well be one of the first ones back on the payroll.
  • Cash Strapped Startups – are you willing to buy a smart, talented, unemployed person a drink? Come with one or two specific projects that you need accomplished and we’ll help you find the perfect person to get the job done. And if you get funded you can always hire them!

They have run three JobNob events so far and have two more scheduled for August and September.

Related information and press coverage is available here.

This would be a great program to have running in Ottawa.  Organizations such as Lead to Win, OCRI,  The Ottawa Network, CATA or Ottawa Talent Initiative would be good sponsor organizations to make this happen locally.

Lead to Win Program Update – April 25th


CTV Ottawa News Coverage This Sunday!

Tune-in to CTV Ottawa TECH NOW with Paul Brent on April 26th at 6PM for a special report on Lead to Win!

City of Ottawa, Carleton University and Business – United in Leadership for the Community

Recent press releases on the Lead to Win program:

Media Coverage

Visit the Lead to Win website to see all the latest media coverage on the Lead to Win program.

Free Re-use of Lead to Win Materials for Other Canadian Communities

All Lead to Win program materials (e.g. online tools, learning materials, processes, network) will be made freely available to other communities who would like to re-use, or adapt,  the materials, procedures and network for their own regional benefit. Contact us at if you are interested.

Spread the Word!

Please spread the word on the Lead to Win program to prospective candidates, community organizations and sponsors.

Can you Help?

If you know politicians or government leaders in agencies who want to join the City of Ottawa, the Chamber of Commerce and Carleton University in taking a strong, visible leadership position to help make a difference – please make them aware of Lead to Win and ask them to contact Dr Bailetti at 613 829 8885,

Depression 2.0 – Hoovervilles/Shantytowns/Tent Cities Have Arrived in the US

There are numerous tent cities starting to appear in the United States as the financial crisis continues to hit hard.

Growing Tent City Outside of Sacramento California

The Daily Mail in the UK reports on the growing number of unemployed in the US moving into tent cities.  The article talks to the growing tent city outside of Sacramento California.  Surprisingly,  Sacramento’s mayor, Kevin Johnson views this as a viable solution to handling the increasing number of unemployed.  The Mayor is quoted as saying:

‘I can’t say tent cities are the answer to the homeless population in Sacramento, but I think it’s one of the many things that should be considered and looked at.’

There are an increasing number of videos that document this disturbing trend –

NBC News March 2009

There are many other videos on You Tube and elsewhere.  Wikipedia also has a list of cities.

Related Articles –

Civil Unrest Coming to the United States?

A friend in California sent me an article today that was very disconcerting.   The article was reflecting on a recent report published in Europe relative to the impacts and consequences of the economic situation:

According to the European think tank, LEAP/Europe 2020, two factors make the US a likely candidate for civil violence: the absence of a strong social safety net and the presence of hundreds of millions of firearms.

The full article is here (it’s in French, so you’ll need to use Google Translation if you want to read it in English).

Former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski has publicly expressed his fears about impending civil unrest with MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough :

JOE SCARBOROUGH: You also talked about the possibility of class conflict.

ZBIGNIEW BRZEZINSKI: I was worrying about it because we’re going to have millions and millions of unemployed, people really facing dire straits. And we’re going to be having that for some period of time before things hopefully improve. And at the same time there is public awareness of this extraordinary wealth that was transferred to a few individuals at levels without historical precedent in America….

And you sort of say to yourself: what’s going to happen in this society when these people are without jobs, when their families hurt, when they lose their homes, and so forth?

We have the government trying to repair: repair the banking system, to bail the housing out. But what about the rich guys?… Where is the monied class today? Why aren’t they doing something: the people who made billions, millions…. there’s going to be growing conflict between the classes and if people are unemployed and really hurting, hell, there could be even riots!

Perhaps this will drive up immigration from the US to Canada?   Entreprenuers, VC’s (only those with a large fund and money to invest mind you) and leaders of large multi-national companies (only those companies that are profitable with no past history of government teat suckling) can go straight to the front of the line….

And the unrest is not expected to be restricted to the US.  On Feb 23rd, London Police expressed public concern over  the possibility of a “summer of rage” in the UK  –

Police said on Monday they feared a “summer of rage” with mass protests over the economic crisis…

There is evidence that governments are already preparing for the possibility of civil unrest.

And on a lighter note, Colbert takes an extreme look at future possibilities.

Fur Trading, Lumber, High Tech and Ottawa





Like fur trading and the lumber industry,  the Ottawa high tech industry is well on its way into the local history books.

For several years now, people around town have increasingly talked about tech in tones of warm remembrances of past glory rather then excitement about present and future possibilities.

I don’t believe Ottawa high tech will ever reach the halcyon highs of the past – those days are gone and never to return.

I do believe that Ottawa high tech will continue to exist – but in a much different form and with an increasingly smaller economic contribution to our region.

With an increasing number of local tech workers joining the jobless ranks – most with limited prospects – Ottawa is likely to see a temporary boom in the growth of local microbusinesses. These new microbusinesses will include some focused on tech, others in more traditional businesses such as services and contracting.

Some examples of microbusinesses that might develop in Ottawa can be inferred from  microbusinesses that have been generated by graduates of training programs at (view here).

So what exactly is a microbusiness?

A microbusiness  is a small business or enterprise with less than 5 employees and little access to commercial banking.  Microbusinesses are typically side-businesses run from the house or via the internet. Starting a microbusiness is often a possibility for many people, due to low start-up costs, however profits generated from many microbusinesses vary immensely.

Microbusinesses often employ inexpensive micromarketing techniques to promote their products, services, and microbrands within a specific microsegment of the market.

Micromarketing is the practice of tailoring products, brands (microbrands), and promotions to meet the needs and wants of microsegments within a market. Micromarketing is all about digital content and innovative ways of distributing it.

A microbrand is a small-scale brand recognized only in a certain geographic location (e.g. city) or by consumers in a specific micromarket or niche market.

A microsegment is an extremely precise division of a market which are the focus of personalized direct marketing and promotion campaigns. Each campaign is meant to target and appeal to the specified tastes, needs, wants, and desires of the individuals that make up the microsegment.

In the high tech world  the question to reflect on is:  What opportunities are realistic for an Ottawa-based microbusiness to attack and expect success?

More on that topic in a subsequent post.