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The recession killed off 7.9 million jobs. It would take the creation of 10.6 million jobs immediately for the same percentage of the population to be working as was the case three to four years ago. And we all know that it takes time to create jobs. If it takes three years, more than 3.5 million additional jobs will be needed because of continued population growth. The Federal Reserve predicts that unemployment will stay around 7% or above through 2012 and in the 5% to 5.3% range in the long-run. In March 2011, the unemployment rate for adult women was 7.7%. Just released, the unemployment rate as of May rose slightly to 8.0%. The same statistics grew for adult men, but slightly decreased for teenagers. Our economy has a long road ahead… to say the very least. (All facts and figures came from CNN.com and The Bureau of Labor Satistics from the US Department of Labor)

After reading all those statistics, you can’t help but feel a little bit more blessed. This week, the company I work for performed a set of layoffs and made company-wide pay cuts. A friend of mine who lives near Virginia Beach found out her husband was also laid off this week. After strolling through the mall with Christopher last night, I noticed three new store closings. Just when we think we’re on the upswing, something like this happens. Like I said, we have a long road ahead of us.

As layoffs were being made this week, I couldn’t help but be on edge. My mind was racing.. “Am I next?” “Last one in, first one out…” I could have sworn my time was coming. But it didn’t. Sure, I got a pay cut, but I still have a paycheck coming home. Every time I think about it, I get emotional. I am so thankful for my job. I am so thankful that I can continue to support my family financially. I am so thankful that I will be continuing my 45 minute commute to work everyday. I am so thankful for the six dollars in tolls I pay everyday. Errr.. maybe I’m not so thankful about that part, but.. you get the idea. God has once again blessed me beyond measure and beyond my worth. He is so good to me.

If you’re in the business world, then you already know of a great man by the name of Seth Godin. And if you don’t, take a minute to climb out from under your rock and get in the know. This man is by far one of the most brilliant men of our time. He has an incredibly insightful blog called Seth Godin’s Blog (creative? maybe not.. but definitely well worth the read). Today’s blog was about working. He says.. If you’re going to work.. work hard. The biggest waste is to do that thing you call work, but to interrupt it, compromise it, cheat it and still call it work. In the same amount of time you can expend twice the effort and get far more in exchange.

When was the last time you took your job for granted? Or didn’t perform at your best and just gave 50%? For me, it happens more frequently than I’d like to admit. Sunny days make me wish I was out on the beach listening to the waves crash. Rainy days make me wish I was laying in bed watching movies with my two puppies. When the holidays roll around, all I can think about is opening gifts, hanging decorations, celebrating with friends, etc. My mind wanders wishing I was anywhere but in front of my computer at my desk. And yes, there are even the rare days that I wish I didn’t have a job so I could sleep all day and make my own schedule.

Slap my hand, right? Who says such things? Well, not me anymore. Unfortunately, we live in an economy where we can’t afford to take our jobs for granted or be picky about what we do for a living. We do what we need to do just to get by. A lot of us go to a job everyday that we hate because our finances don’t allow us to take that kind of financial risk. Some of us go to a job everyday that we love, but take it for granted and don’t do it to the best of our ability. And some of us just lack passion behind what we do.

But Seth reminds us. If we’re going to work, work hard. That way, we’ll have something to show for it. Tomorrow or Monday or whenever you go to work next, walk in with an optimistic attitude. Be thankful that you still have your job because after all, over 7% of us don’t. Be grateful to the God above that you are working in a free world and still taking home a paycheck. Walk in with the drive to make a difference in your workplace. On K-Love radio, they have Make a Difference Mondays.. turn that around and try and make a difference to someone somewhere every single day. When you go home that night, you won’t go home having taken that day for granted because you will have taken the opportunity to make something of yourself and to make a difference. Take advantage no longer, it’s time to work and it’s time to work hard. If you can’t, it’s time to let someone who is willing to.. take over.