When will white-collar jobs return? Try the end of next year

office workersBeing in a recession is a bad circle to be in, especially if you're out of a job.

Being jobless can feed on itself, leading to longer unemployment. And people without work don't have extra money to spend, thus hurting retail, service and other jobs that keep the economy rolling.

Prolonged unemployment among white-collar, higher-income professionals is only making the recession worse, as their job loss further slows the recovery in retail and housing, and keeps the economy mired in low or no growth, according to outplacement company Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Having high wage earners without jobs pinches consumer spending, which is 70% of the economic engine.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, 44% of the 5.1 million Americans unemployed 27 weeks and longer came from management and professional occupations and from sales and office occupations.

When will those white-collar office jobs return? Things should pick up by the end of 2010, CEO John Challenger told me in a telephone interview.

And what can they do to increase their chances of getting a job again?

Challenger's advice is to go back to the company where they were laid off and stay in touch with their former boss. When business picks up, they should be the first in line with all of the experience and company know-how they have, he advised.

Part-time workers should do all they can to be in a position to be hired full-time when such hiring happens again, he said.

Much like the Internet, personal computer and housing booms helped pull the country out of recessions, Challenger sees healthcare, energy and global business leading the way this time.

Job search times typically take four weeks, but for the 5.1 million people on the job hunt for more than 27 weeks, those are people who are really stuck and need to do more than the typical applicant.

"There's a big group of people who have been out of work for a long while," Challenger said.

They should join organizations related to their career, go to meetings and be tenacious in reaching out to people and fighting to keep their search active, Challenger recommended.

"The last thing you want to do is be at home sitting in front of a computer," he said. "You want to be out in the marketplace."

Aaron Crowe is a freelance journalist in the San Francisco Bay Area. Reach him at www.AaronCrowe.net

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