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The 99ers: 5 Sobering Lessons

Watch this segment from last night's 60 Minutes and you may feel pretty blue. Scott Pelley captures the angst and desperation that long-term unemployed feel as the Great Recession and so-so recovery drag on.

What struck me was Pelley's line that many of the 99-ers are "too young to retire and too old to rehire." Simply hearing that makes anyone who is north of a certain age (say, 40) cringe.

For the nation's 6.123 million long-term unemployed (unemployed for 27 weeks and over), there's not much to do except keep looking and continue to patch together enough work to get through this crisis. But as I watched the segment, I thought about lessons for those lucky enough to have jobs, even if the job isn't an ideal one.

5 Lessons from the 99-ers:

  1. Don't ever take a job granted: Keep adding value and every now and then, remind your boss of your contribution to the bottom line
  2. Upgrade and expand your skills along the way
  3. Pay down consumer debt as quickly as possible
  4. Establish an emergency reserve fund of at least one year of household expenses (two years, if you are in a high-risk job)
  5. Save, save, save: if you don't like the stock market, select lower risk options, but do it!
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