Welcome to Interesting Times in the Labor Market

Posted by Richard Jacobson

The commonly-held story is that the Chinese have a set of three curses of progressively-worse consequence that predate written history:

  • May you live in interesting times

  • May you come to the attention of those in authority

  • May you find what you are looking for

While the attribution of these curses to any specific culture – let alone the Chinese – is of dubious nature, they each represent an interesting circumstance that, upon reflection, can be viewed as either a blessing or a curse, depending upon your perspective. That, of course, is the point.

Interesting Times in the Labor MarketThe industry (the three collective insurance industries) that we are part of is living through the first two of the above curses – I don’t think I need to explain using the curse vs. blessing label in this context. There is however a ‘blessing’ perspective: the organizations that come through this tumultuous time will emerge stronger and with less competition. Even the gaze of authority may very well end up expanding the market without (hopefully) doing lasting damage to the market.

Here at The Jacobson Group, we are going through our annual budgeting and planning process; and the uncertainties we are attempting to evaluate are more complicated and more numerous than those we have seen in our past. What affects our industry and its labor market, affects us. But we, too, believe that we will emerge stronger with deeper relationships. We are already seeing a great paring of competition as one of our larger competitors has been sold and is undergoing a dramatic restructuring process.

It is the last and purportedly most dramatic curse/ blessing that could prove the most impactful. There are two ways the statement can be evaluated: “May you find what you are seeking” or “May you find what you are expecting.” While I am quite sure the original intent was the first interpretation, the second flows much better with my purpose in this entry, which is to solicit industry opinion.

What do you expect in 2010? More narrowly, which of the items that I have listed in the 2010 Impact Survey do you expect to have the biggest impact on the industry in 2010? I invite you to participate in this 2-question survey by clicking here. Once we have some feedback to compile, I’ll revisit the highest-rated topics, and we can delve into their values as curses or blessings.