Economic news has been grim, heightening fears that we are facing a recession, if not already in one. It looks like we may all need to buckle down for the potential of a rough patch. Jared Bernstein, author and senior economist at Economic Policy Institute, offers a good explanation of what a recession is likely to mean to the folks on the ground in plain talk that everyone can understand:

But what does recession mean to folks on the ground? How bad is it, really?
Pretty damn bad. Given recent historical patterns, three million more people could join the unemployment rolls, and middle-income families, already squeezed, and with income levels still recovering from the last recession, could lose another $2,500.

Using historical data, he maps out what we might be likely to see ahead. To follow along with his thinking on this matter, you can read updates here.
Many workers are already facing an economic squeeze with the mortgage crisis, skyrocketing gas prices, ever-climbing health-care costs, general inflation, and the worry of the potential for layoffs looming. Plus, many people are burdened with too much debt – a heavy weight in the best of times and a potetialy crippling factor in bad times. Now might be a good time to try to reach out and help employees who may be experiencing debt pressure.
Economists are divided about how deep or how long our economic downturn may last. Here are some other resources for helping you, your employees, and your organization to weather the times.
Recession Planning for Employees – Susan M. Heatherfield of About.com’s Human Resources offers excellent suggestions for concrete actions to take in planning for a potential recession. Her thoughts encompass planning for your organization’s employees, for your Human Resources department, and for other departments within your business. Here are just a few of her suggestions:
Find ways to buffer your employees to minimize the impact of an economic downturn:

  • Have telecommuting policies in place.
  • Encourage employee carpooling.
  • Sponsor brown bag lunches and book clubs.
  • Provide training in-house minimizing the need for employee travel and inconvenience.
  • Effectively communicate the redeployment of any internal resources to minimize employee distress.

About.com also has an excellent section devoted to downsizing and layoff strategies. It’s a directory of dozens of topics and articles on matters related to managers and employees alike.
George Lenard of George’s Employment Blawg asks, Layoffs – are you next? – a question that may be on many minds. He offers a list of warning signs that may indicate vulnerability, and suggests ways to be prepared should the worst come to pass.
Newsweek’s Patricia Kitchen suggests strategies for recession proofing your career – suggestions for managing both you represent and your future.
Cheap Healthy Good blog suggests some great strategies for recession proofing your diet – great practical tips designed to keep the rising grocery bills in line.

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