Everybody's in the unemployment pool now

Since I started writing this blog, the global economy has turned downward and almost everybody is now worried about losing their jobs. Especially here in New York, where many of the big banks are based, the layoffs are coming in huge, frightening waves. This is going to sound perverse, but it's somewhat comforting. The majority of my neighbors can now understand what we've been going through.

Sympathetic news stories have begun appearing, along with advice on handling the added family strife. Political leaders like New York City's Mayor Michael Bloomberg are talking about creating programs to get people back into jobs.

Of course, Dan has been newly employed for just three months. To me, this has become the only sort of insurance we can count on -- he's too new in the job to be let go yet. The company had a purpose for hiring him and, even faced with the crummy economic outlook, has not yet jetisoned his project yet. It's a project that ultimately saves money, so it may be something the company continues to pursue. Still, when the project is up and running, who's to say they'll keep any of the people who got it to that point? I would say that Dan safely has another 21 months of shelf life. If the company decides they don't need him, we will know because they will start giving him little hints. Far be it from corporate America to be straightforward. They might assign him someone to treat him badly -- this has happened twice out of the four layoffs. Then they could deny him an expected bonus. This is supposed to make him quit so that the company does not have to pony up for unemployment insurance. Only as a last resort will someone actually say to his face, "We don't need you any more."

One of the kindest layoffs, in retrospect, was by a company that was being sold and gave him three months to find another job. He was able to find one within that time, and we suffered no loss of income, no gap in our health insurance coverage. Plus, when you have a job, it's easier to find a new one, as the old addage goes.

So, corporate managers of the world, take heed. There is a morally superior way to fire people, should you choose to use it. Don't let me hear you whining over your martinis about how hard it is. You do have a choice.