Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: The Unemployment Cushion by Mark Penn

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published November 18, 2009

Unemployment has hit double digits in the U.S., and in some areas of the industrial Midwest, it is approaching 16%. Joblessness in many parts of this country is destructive beyond belief. The Federal Reserve Chairman said he sees little prospect of immediate relief.

And yet, in other areas it is not nearly as bad as it could have been. One reason is that bringing home a paycheck, especially in upper-income households, is a shared responsibility today. That fact alone, in a recession, can provide a lot of families with a built-in backstop–an Unemployment Cushion–to the destitution that unemployment in a recession can cause.

In the last 50 years, job growth has far outstripped population growth. As a result, today’s 10.2% unemployment rate leaves a far greater proportion of the population at work than in the past. In 1961, for example, when we hit 7.1% unemployment, the record for that period, only a third of Americans had jobs. Today, even with 10% unemployment, nearly half the country, or 138 million people, is still at work.

Read the Full Article

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: The Declining Soccer Mom by Mark Penn

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published October 7, 2009

The soccer mom is in decline.

Married, middle-class but working suburban moms whose primary concern is how to enrich their children while they are away at work are declining in numbers, in influence and even as a key swing vote.

New preliminary 2008 census figures show that the percentage of households with their own kids under 18 has hit a record low of 30.7%. This is in sharp contrast to the situation in 1960, when nearly a majority (48.9%) of households had such children.

This is indicative not just of a decline in soccer moms, but in kids and population growth in general. Women are marrying later, developing their careers more, and having fewer children.

Read the Full Article

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column: Grandparents to the Rescue by Mark Penn

Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
By MARK PENN with E. KINNEY ZALESNE
From The Wall Street Journal Microtrends Column
Published September 16, 2009

Grandparents are stepping up, and the American family may never be the same.

A few years ago, a key microtrend was the Working Retired — aging Americans who were so enjoying work and health that they either wouldn’t retire or were starting second careers altogether. One incidental effect was that grandparents weren’t around to help their adult children with the kids — putting a squeeze on those younger families, and giving a boost to daycare and nannies. New helicopter parents were increasingly reluctant to call upon their parents, and when they did their parents were often too busy or preoccupied.

But now all that’s turning around with a new countertrend. While many are still working later and later, others are sharing the new family burdens of the economic crisis. With unemployment at nearly 10%, and layoffs increasing for both the young and the old, the terrain of intrafamily dynamics is shifting again. And while more togetherness can be complicated for many families, one group that’s coming out on top is the grandkids.

Read the Full Article

--->