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To set the stage, I work for (insert cool computer company) in Chennai (South India). Here’s what has happened so far since the recession started:
1. ‘NO HIKE THIS YEAR’ was the circular [memo] that we got last December at (insert cool computer company). I was in for a nice hike as I got the top rating for my performance. (hike=pay raise)
2. Second circular during the month of Feb. (aforementioned cool company) had an excellent quarter despite the global economic slowdown. Still, they went ahead announcing that we would have to forgo 5% of our dear cost-to-company. They even said that it’s better to lose 5% than losing the job!
3. Third one is the harshest for me..I was in for a promotion, and I was told that I cannot be promoted since promotion attracts a certain percentage of PAY HIKE, and that it is against the current (cool computer company) policy of no hike and 5% pay cut!
4. I bought a house last year, and I made the mistake of approaching a private bank for the loan. The builder had a nice deal with the bank, and I was the bakra [scapegoat] there! Result: when most public sector banks have slashed the interest rates, this private bank is just too adamant scourging me (and others in the middle class) with high interest rates.
So to summarize: no pay hikes, a 5% pay cut, no promotion (because of the lack of pay hike and 5% pay cut) and soaring interest rates being peddled by private banks. India may be growing economically in some aspects, but we’re suffering just like everyone else in most aspects.
Well, all these add up to just one thing.. recession-proof yourself. Try to earn as much money you can so that you can spend happily during tough times like these.
Naren is a blogger and a blog consultant. He is fairly experienced with WordPress blogs, set up, customize open designs, SEO and ideas on blogging. He would be happy to help you on your blog quests Feel free to visit his blog at http://www.ubiquitense.com/
There Really Is No Business Like Show Business
The time: January 2009
The place: Broadway
The event: A total of 14 productions (including three long-running Best Musical Tony winners, two shows with multiple Tony wins, three musicals by Tony-winning writers and/or directors, a high-profile revival of a play with Hollywood stars, the last original play by a recently departed playwright, two limited engagement holiday shows, one Chinese spectacle, and the triumphant return of Liza Minnelli) closed.
It’s Steven here from Penguins and Procrastination. Last summer, I worked at a well-respected, professional (or for those in the know, Equity) theatre upstate New York. In the lineup of shows were four popular musicals that can be brought up in everyday conversation. However, even with loyal patrons and repeat subscribers, the theatre had trouble filling the seats. With $4.00 gas prices and the urge to save money, regular theatergoers were not willing to make their annual trips to their favorite regional theatre or stay for the after-show cabarets. Similar situations have been seen across the nation, causing many regional theatres to shut their doors or be in danger of doing so.
These instances may be a serious wake-up call for any aspiring theatre professional, such as the one writing this blog post. And it is. The nation’s economic crisis has affected all industries, and it is no secret that Broadway and the theatre in general have been hit hard. What does this mean for someone like me who is taking his first steps into that elusive field called show business? A few things come to mind, and not all of them are scary.
In the midst of all the drama surrounding the economic state, I have found that New York City is never at a loss for theatre opportunities and auditions, and those auditions are teeming with talent. The theatre scene is just as competitive as ever. This is a good thing. Competition is a healthy aspect of show business. The quality of talent is not necessarily diminishing with the gloomy economy. Standards of talent have not decreased, which means that from an artistic point of view, the theatre continues to thrive.
It is a fact that in this economy, people still make a living by working in the theatre. It may true that actors have to accept gigs that pay less than they’re used to, but to be working in a show means a steady paycheck for the duration of that contract. Out-of-state theatre gigs and tours help people save money since they don’t have to worry about paying rent for however long the contract is (as long as they sublet their apartment or any similar alternative). Also, many theatre people have other jobs to help pay the bills. These jobs are flexible and don’t go out of style, whether it is working at a restaurant or offering services such as photography, web design, or music or dance expertise to fellow actors. Let’s be honest: someone working in the theatre probably knows what it’s like to have a smaller salary than someone working in corporate America, so a year of slightly less pay is manageable.
If the economy has scared anyone out of a career in show business, it hasn’t ended the life of the business itself. In fact, Broadway has adapted to the economic climate. Sure, intimate or experimental musicals such as 13, [title of show], and most recently The Story of My Life have all failed on the Great White Way, but there are only four empty houses on Broadway currently (that’s a low number of empty Broadway theatres). The focus of shows playing on Broadway has shifted to uplifting tales during economic hardship (like Mary Poppins, In the Heights, and the brilliant Billy Elliot) or family-friendly crowd pleasers (The Little Mermaid and Shrek). I realize that four of the five shows I just mentioned are based on movies, but this is a way the theatre has redefined itself to stay afloat. If this is not Broadway’s proudest trend, at least it has kept itself alive. (More screen-to-stage Broadway transfers coming up: Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 and the U2/Julie Taymor Spider-Man musical, with Sister Act, The First Wives Club, Ghost, The Addams Family, Catch Me If You Can, and Slumdog Millionaire in the works.) This isn’t the first time a gimmick put Broadway back on its feet. In the aftermath of 9/11, jukebox musicals helped bring people back to the theatre. One of the original jukebox musicals, Mamma Mia!, is still playing worldwide and was turned into one of the most successful movie musicals ever.
The times reflect and reshape every medium within the entertainment industry. The requirements of a theatre professional are always changing, economic crisis or not. Of course, it is wise to be a bit more conscious about money right now, but the theatre is far from dead. I’m currently working at a dinner theatre in Florida with actors who are happy to be employed and audiences who relish a good night at the theatre. I’m also returning to that suffering theatre I worked at last summer for one of their biggest seasons yet in terms of the caliber of their lineup of musicals. The economy has claimed some victims in the theatre world, but this is all part of the natural evolution of theatre itself. Broadway will survive, the theatre will prevail, and the show must go on.
Steven holds a BFA in Musical Theatre from Emerson College. Originally from Long Island, he is currently performing in Thoroughly Modern Millie at the Show Palace Dinner Theatre in Hudson, FL. He urges everyone to support the performing arts in any way possible, especially in schools. Check out his blog, Penguins and Procrastination.
The other day, while watching the evening news (something I try to avoid these days), I saw a sobering statistic – that unemployment in California is now in double digits. I instantly burst into tears.
I have a job I hate. And thanks to the sucky economy, I can’t quit.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m grateful for my paycheck. Two of my good friends, who used to be my managers and mentors when I worked for an enterprise-software company, were both let go within weeks of each other. They have mortgages and kids and spouses and tuition to worry about. I only have myself.
But that doesn’t change the fact that I can’t sleep at night or that my stomach is continually upset.
I really, really, really want to quit. And I can’t. Unless I’m willing to cash out my (quickly shrinking) 401(k) and hope I find a job before it runs out. Or unless I’m willing to put everything I own in storage and just live in my car until I find a new job. I’ve been sufficiently aggrieved to seriously consider both options.
My personal recession actually started 4 1/2 years ago, when the company I worked for was acquired, and I took the severance package. This big chunk of change represented a second chance to pursue the dream that originally brought me to Hollywood in the first place. You see, I’ve always dreamed of being an actor. And most actors live in a constant state of recession while they go on pointless audition after pointless audition, hoping for that one big break. Meanwhile, the endless, exhausting stream of going-nowhere activity makes it all but impossible to hold a steady, well-paying job. It’s literally Hollywood or bust.
After my severance pay and unemployment ran out, I started working as a contract freelance writer, making half of my corporate salary and paying twice as much in taxes. I compensated with credit cards. I charged my rent. I charged my food. I charged my acting classes. By the time I finally accepted that Spielberg wasn’t calling, I was $69,000 in debt. It was time to go back to work, and I took the first job smoking: a position as a marketing communications manager with one of the companies I freelanced for.
It was a nightmare from the start. Nearly the entire management team turned over, and the people who brought me in quickly left. The new regime pigeon-holed me into a role so limited, I felt like a bottom-of-the-org-chart peon.
No problem. I’d just keep looking. And in a few months, I’d be on to something more challenging and fulfilling.
I didn’t count on the global recession. It came early to Los Angeles, thanks to the Writers’ Strike. In October 2007, there were lots of jobs to apply to. In November, when TV production halted overnight, jobs were instantly hard to come by, even in fields unrelated to the entertainment industry. The housing bust, which brought down Southern California-based companies like Countrywide, simply made a bad situation worse.
Eighteen months after I started the sucky job from hell, I’ve only had three interviews and no job offers.
Am I discouraged? You bet I am.
Anita is a take-charge marketer with 10 years’ experience in the technology sector. She lives in Los Angeles and holds a B.A. from Yale University. Check out her resume and portfolio.
The Recession was a major part of my life starting last year when I was a candidate for the United States Senate. Besides addressing it in speeches, I ran into people from all over Mississippi that were hurting and needed help and hope. It was a moving experience, especially talking with folks from our Gulf Coast, who had not recovered from Hurricane Katrina just yet.
Now as one of the unemployed, uninsured Americans, it has not been easy for me either, but fortunately, I have a support system that will get me through. I have been on the lecture circuit to gain some income, and job offers are starting to come, but I still can’t do the things with my six-year-old son that I normally would do, like rewarding him for good grades or taking him to Chucky Cheese.
When I have visited the Capitol to hang out with my former colleagues in the Mississippi House of Representatives, I see the frustration in their faces. Not only are they dealing with the Recession personally, but they have the weight of the state on their shoulders. Not only are they grappling with the financial limitations to provide basic government services, they have to also deal with the politics around the recently passed stimulus package.
It is not an easy time for us in Mississippi, but we will get through it. We always do.
Erik Robert Fleming is a former member of the Mississippi House of Representatives and had the distinction of being the Democratic nominee for the United States Senate twice, in 2006 and 2008. He is a father, husband and a Christian that lives in Raymond, Mississippi. He is a Chicago, Illinois native and has a BA degree in Political Science from Jackson State University.
Check out his blog: http://erikflemingsweblog.blogspot.com
There is a Duane Reade (New York’s Walgreens or CVS equivalent) that we normally go to, not too far from my house. There used to be a small, high-end grocery and delicatessen right next door. It seemed, from the time it opened, that it had a pretty large following, so its closing about a year and a half ago was a bit unexpected. In that area, there tends to be a high turnover of stores and small restaurants, so I figured something new would take its place soon enough. Today, the space still has not been filled. I think that’s probably when I first started to get scared.
I think I’ve railed against Long Island a lot, when it comes to their feeling of invincibility owing to the region’s staggering wealth (with some exceptions). Three years ago, I rode on the LIRR through the whole summer, and the conversations among other passengers were mostly monotonous, vapid, or sometimes (on those rare occasions) riotously funny. Now, some of that conversation has turned somber, speculative, and almost scared (don’t get me wrong, there are still those who manage to carry on the vapid and stupid conversations in spite of anything else). I’m seeing large sales and discounts popping up to lure uncertain buyers. New York/Long Island mainstays (like Fortunoff and Steve and Barry’s) have filed for bankruptcy, and both are (or have completed) the process of liquidation. At the supermarket, the number of people using coupons seems to have increased exponentially. Even big-wig restaurant owners and chefs in the city (Mario Batali et. al.) have started to introduce special discounts at their restaurants that were normally only accessible to a select few with deep pockets (though I think the discounts were only through Restaurant Week, I don’t know about now).
On the other end of the spectrum, though, things like train fares (both commuter and subway) have been poised to increase over the next few months (I believe June is when the MTA is hiking up subway fares), making a more environmentally-sound (and sometimes, cost-effective) form of transportation more expensive. Schools are (still) hiking tuition costs at a rate that’s outpacing inflation (hooray for debt!), though some are increasing their financial aid packages in light of the fact that people are less likely to be able to pay for further education now than perhaps a few years ago.
So essentially I’m stuck in a slightly confused world where some are lowering costs, and others are increasing costs, and I’m struggling to keep whatever little money I have on my person. I try to cut down the amount of coffee I consume outside (such a hard habit to break) the number of times I eat out (another hard habit to break), and the number of times I have to go into the city, trying to plan my trips around off-peak hours for the sake of my wallet (though sometimes traveling at peak hours is unavoidable).
I was riding into the city on one of the Babylon LIRR trains and was listening to a conversation the two men sitting in front of me were having. They were speaking in hushed tones about how, given the state of affairs, crime was very likely to rise in the area. It was a rehashing of a similar conversation I had with my father. As much as I’d like to think that they are being incredibly paranoid, they’re all probably right.
Whenever I leave Penn Station, I walk out and make my way to Herald Square so I can catch the R or W to NYU. For the last couple of weeks, I’ve noticed that there is always one wheelchair-bound hobo at the corner of 34th and 7th uttering the same thing, over and over again. “Guys, can ya please help me get som’in ta’ eat?” Hobos are as part of the city as the Empire State Building and Times Square, but generally I never saw many, at least on the route I normally take through the city. Now–perhaps because there are more or because I’m taking greater notice of them–I have seen an increase in the number of hobos and street performers. At that corner just outside of Penn Station, I have seen on some days, two other wheelchair-bound hobos patrolling that intersection, hoping someone will give them something. The West 4th Station has seen an increase in performers who, sometimes, go to great lengths to attract attention (a full jazz band and a guy playing on a regular piano, for starters). The worst I have seen (at least to me) in recent weeks are the rise of teenage (or perhaps younger) street performers. On the F, I have seen on at least two occasions, a group of kids who breakdance on the moving train for money. I can’t deny that it’s entertaining, but I mean, they’re kids! I don’t know if this was their own choice, or their parents or friends put them up to this, but God forbid one of them fell and broke their neck…
Yet getting back to crime, in desperate times, desperate people will make desperate moves. More people are being driven into poverty, some ending up on the streets. It’s almost understandable that crime would be the next step. I don’t know if I can ever entirely trust the media coverage of local crimes, since it seems like crime activity in an area is always inflated for sensationalist value, but I guess it’s better to be safe than sorry. Usually, when I’m walking to and from the subway, I try to walk with someone. It’s not a terribly long walk, so I don’t mind walking alone sometimes, and usually the streets are very well-lit and well-trafficked. However, I have considered buying pepper spray, just in case I do end up staying later (for class, studying, or just in general), when the streets become less crowded. I’m not exactly a formidable figure, at 5’1″.
So at least here in the Long Island/NYC area, the recession has been moving in like a fog through empty streets, slowly and steadily. I suppose there’s no way to predict where this will take us, absolutely, but I hope that this will only be a temporary situation and that an upturn will start within the next few months. I can only hope.
So basically I’ll be putting together a whole host of guest posts from several bloggers and other friends, giving their side of the recession story. It’ll be more observational and subjective, rather than objective analyses. It will cover topics from the economical to the social and everything in between. I’m trying to compile a group of bloggers from around the world, at different points in their lives and perhaps in different professions (or lack thereof) to give a global perspective of how the recession is affecting people everywhere.
My own post will be up soon. Stay tuned!
I spent most of my formative years in the nurturing cocoon of the Clinton administration. I was vaguely aware of Bush 41, but the first president I chose (in my head) was Clinton, so he was really my president. I didn’t really know what war was. I had heard of the first Gulf War, but it seemed less a war, more a way to keep a madman at bay. I knew something of Bosnia and Serbia, but these were minor engagements (especially compared to what we’re involved in now). All I was aware of was economic excess and of prosperity. I assumed that everything always came easily, not necessarily without work, but without worry. I realize now that I was wrong to assume. This is not to say Bush 43 is entirely at fault, or that Clinton is blameless. There were mistakes being made everywhere, on Capitol Hill, on Wall Street, in banks, and in our own living rooms. Now the fruits have been borne from our mindless sins of ignorance.
I was talking to a sixth grader I tutor yesterday and we ended up discussing various things. At one point, she asked me about medicine and how long it takes to become a doctor. I laughed and went through the whole spiel. I told her that if she doesn’t take any breaks in between, she’ll probably be in her late twenties by the time she starts working. It was the truth; the road to becoming a doctor is a long, winding, pothole-ridden road. She sighed before declaring the world was probably going to end before then. I was taken a little aback by her pointedly frank pessimism, especially given her age. Pessimism wasn’t supposed to kick in until at least the angst-ridden teen years. Yet as I thought about it more, I realized she was right to assume, and right to worry. We have become conditioned to fear.
I’m not saying the world is going to end. Obviously that’s not what I’m saying. What I’m saying is that the smooth sailing we have had for the last decade or so has come to an end in the most unceremonious and clumsy fashion possible. Gone are the times when wide-eyed, college graduates can expect a job waiting for them within months after their graduation, followed by buying their first home, setting up their children’s trust fund, and letting their 401(k)s bloat with money. Employers no longer are waiting at the end of the college road with open arms and a fat paycheck. Instead we are seeing college grads moving back with their parents, as they wait and wait for employers to come calling. Over 2.6 million jobs were lost in 2008, and the number continues to grow. As the economy shrinks, states are now cutting spending in places that could have drastic consequences (like Paterson cutting hospital spending in New York State in a time where healthcare is suffering). Again I used to assume that doctors were at least a little immune to economic crises; after all, there’s always a need for doctors right? Yet when hospitals can’t afford to take on new doctors, and when people can’t afford to get healthcare, even doctors are finding it difficult to find work. There is no real certainty in the current economic climate, and the possible ramifications are frightening.
As I was buying my ticket to Penn Station from my home station, I saw a man who asked me for a buck or two towards a train ticket. This wasn’t your typical bum though, and this wasn’t the city. This was Long Island. He looked like any other Joe Schmo who lived on Long Island. Maybe I’m naive to have even entertained the idea that Long Island was somehow, immune, from the economic downturn. I can’t help but think that the number of people booted onto the streets will increase as the economy continues to sink.
Many of you must be reading this and thinking, “She is such a pessimist” and “This is so depressing.” It’s the truth. No one wants to envision a world where we have to be fearful for our livelihood as well as for our lives. Certainly we don’t want that for ourselves, and we definitely don’t want that for our children. We want our children to know that they can do anything they want, with little worry, assuming they put in the effort. Yet it’s something to keep in the back of your mind. To continue assuming that everything is perfectly peachy is a sign of sure insanity.
Yet to those that say, “Why bother doing anything if we’re just destined for a rough road to employment in the end?” the point is not to give up, the point is to work harder. Employers (presumably) will favor the more qualified candidates over the guy or girl who just scraped through with a bachelors degree. Go for the unpaid internships to get your foot in the door. Network as much as you can, a resume and transcript can only tell so much about a person. Do whatever you can, short of stepping on another guy’s toes.
We’ll have to make some changes to the way we conduct our lives now. We can’t continue the same wasteful practices that landed us here in the first place. We can’t allow the market to operate of its own volition. We need strict regulations to rein everything back to some sort of stable state. It’s important to note that all situations are temporary, good times, and bad. I’m just hoping that, for the time being, the stimulus plan passed by Congress will have its intended effect sooner rather than later.
Until then, we have to work hard and stay positive. This, too, shall pass.