Quotable President Harry Truman said "It's a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it's a depression when you lose your own." People can quibble all day what this economic era is called but it won't really have its own name until it's written past history. Recession, Depression, Disruption, take your pick, it's irrelevant in the here and now. What the average person really knows is for most people things aren't getting much better. For many it's taking a turn for the worse while some are pulling out of it and at least beginning to break even. Very few people are untouched although there are a some who doing well.
It is clear that generally for most people in Arizona the economy is not improving much, if at all. The optimistic projection of economists at the WP Carey School of Business of ASU is that it will be at least three years before we even begin to see a turnaround in our economy. Real people and businesses know better. We've been particularly hard hit by the real estate and mortgage foreclosure tsunami, with the first quarter results of this year being much more dismal than anticipated, both on the real estate sales and foreclosure fronts. Unemployment is technically just below the national average but that does not include people who have given up looking for work and the underemployed. Although there are jobs listed, they are too few for the number of people applying for them and most people are not qualified for these jobs and they don't pay very well. We have lost more quality jobs than we have gained in all jobs. Gas and food prices are going higher and people are running out of savings and credit while inflation for necessary items is increasing.
The danger seems to be systemic unemployment and that affects income which in turn affects business and tax revenue. It doesn't take a genius to figure that out. The real danger to those who are long term unemployed or underemployed is not just losing skills but the effect it can have on the mind. This has been called a "man-cession" since unemployment has statistically hit men harder during this economic downturn unlike in the past. Since men still tend to identify themselves (and increasingly women) in terms of the work they do and associate it with their self-worth, the hazard of widespread psychological and subsequent social problems is pretty high.
That is a trapdoor.
As difficult as it might seem with little money and limited resources it is critical to stay physically occupied and mentally challenged to avoid conjoining psychological depression with an economic one. I see this as a looming social problem for the country as a whole. That should serve as warning to anyone that it is a state of mind to avoid. Large numbers of people may fall into this trap but that doesn't mean you have to. The English idiom "where there's a will, there's a way" applies here. If we are determined not to fall into a trap and do something about our situation, then we can always find the means and approach to do it.
The challenge then is for people who do not want to become stagnant, depressed or lose skills to figure out how to rise above the crowd and do something constructive with the time involuntarily thrust into their hands. Every person is different therefore personal solutions are not the same. My belief is that anything you can do during this time period to occupy your body and mind will pay off in the long term. Anything you do from tutoring what you know to learning more about something you don't know will lead to possibilities. Standing still will not. The smart person will distinguish themselves from the masses that do nothing by becoming occupied with meaningful activities.
Eventually this economic downturn, whatever it is named, will end. When it does those that did nothing will continue to do nothing and those that did something will be doing something better than before. The new normal will become real normal and living will get much better. It always does, it is part of the human condition. The important thing to understand is this economic interim will become past history and when it does the future will become the present. You will be glad you prepared for down the line when it arrives, since you did not give up during this difficult time now, no matter what it ends up being called.