There are a lot of jobs that have been eliminated that just aren't coming back. Manufacturing in America is dwindling, and there's not going to be a renaissance for that either. We can't compete with the pay rates that countries such as India and China are willing to accept. That, and not having to deal with unions, will kill large manufacturing in America.
Everyone isn't suited to work menial, low paying jobs; many people are overqualified and won’t even get a second look from employers. Some of us are older and physically can't handle stocking shelves for long periods of time, or standing for a long time; our backs can’t take it. Some people might be able to do it, but not everyone.
What's left then? Loral Langemeier, who shows up on Dr. Phil and other shows often enough, wrote a book called the Millionaire Maker. She helps people set budgets that they can live on, but also gets real with people. She works with them to understand that they may have to sell their homes, their fancy cars, and live a simpler life. She also recommends that everyone take a good look within themselves to figure out what skills they have to work for themselves and bring extra money into the household.
Working for oneself isn't a new concept. America was built by people worked for themselves, who had more than one skill, and that’s how they made their living. Self employment has always been a big thing in this world. This is why consulting makes a lot of sense for people who have skills that can help others and a need to work as much as possible without the restraints of internal politics.
In Langemeier's book, she tells the story of people who hadn't thought about skills they had, that either came as a result of the jobs they did, or as the result of hobbies they had. One man was a teacher who realized he could do tutoring after school to make money. It turned into a full time career, as he hired other people and paid them a portion to do tutoring for him.
There was also the story of a lady who could build websites, something she learned at her job, and she turned that into first a part time job, then her new profession.
There are many things people need someone else to do for them. They go looking for someone to help them in their local newspapers. Or they look online for those people in the area where they live. New entrepreneurs realize they can put ads in these newspapers, offering services that someone might be able to use.
Many unemployed people need to take the time, while sitting on unemployment, to not only look for a new job, but try to see what they can do that may bring money into the household. Since most communities have a Chamber of Commerce somewhere near, contacting them and learning when they have networking events give you another chance to meet people who just might need your skills, both individuals and larger businesses.
It's up to you to think about your own self and your skills, and to figure out what you’re good at. Talk to someone to help you explore the thought if you need to; if you have to pay a few dollars for it, it may be worth it. Anything you do that's a positive step forward only brings positive things into your life. You owe it to yourself to think of ways to be independent, even if it doesn’t work out; you’ll gain valuable information that you may be able to use later on.
The Professional Consultant's Association of Central New York gets many new visitors who are people that are in a career transition and looking to see if consulting is for them. I'd estimate that 85% of them find themselves employed within 3 to 6 months later, having decided that they're more comfortable with a standard job than having to deal with the pressure of being self employed. We don't condemn anyone for those types of decisions; it's probably something those of us who have been independent consultant's for a long time have entertained here and there in our professional lives.
America is changing; change with it, and you may find a career that fits you like a glove, and that gives you more control over your life. Consulting is a pretty nice career change to think about. It's not easy, takes a lot of discipline in a lot of areas, and sometimes you'll have your ethics challenged in ways you've never imagined. Overall, you'll love the freedom, the sense of purpose in knowing that your success is on your hands, and you might even see the world on someone else's dime. :-)