Ex-Wall Streeters look to creative job creation

With over 7.2 million jobs lost in the past 21 months and hundreds of thousands of those on Wall Street, how are those former Wall Street workers faring in this employment climate? If the snapshot of five workers at CNNMoney is a good sampling, some are changing careers, some are starting new businesses, some are traveling the world and some are desperately looking for new jobs.

Given the bonus levels we've heard of on Wall Street, a lot of these people are probably in better financial shape to ride out the current financial storm than most folks stuck on the unemployment line. But based on a report from JPMorgan Chase, they might be struggling for as long as four years. Economists at JPMorgan think that based on the disappointing September unemployment figures and the fact that the recovery is weak, it could take four years to recover all the jobs lost.

In the last three deep recessions, the growth rate exceeded an average of 5% for the two years of recovery, but right now economists are predicting a much slower growth rate for the economy. While 2.7 million jobs were lost during the 2001 recession, the jobs market is trying to grow out of a 7.2 million jobs hole.

In addition the underemployment rate is now around 17%. That underemployment rate topped out at 10.4% in 2001, a rate much closer to the unemployment rate now. That reflects people who have taken part-time jobs or lower paying jobs just to earn something. Some economists think we may never rebuild to the previous level of higher paying jobs, especially as we watch high skilled manufacturing, electronic and computer jobs move out of the country.

Ex-Wall Streeters, just like the rest of the unemployed, could be taking on jobs at lower levels just to keep food on the table. For example, Roger Cillo, who was a segment manager at JPMorgan Chase's credit card divisions now works as a Social Security Administration Claims Representative. While he may be earning less, he's also happy to spend more time with his family.

Another ex-Wall Streeter, Lee Herschkorn, gave up looking for work entirely and decided to take the time to travel leisurely. After two layoffs, he decided it would be awhile before the job market recovered, so why not spend New York's winter in the sunshine of Southeast Asia. Two others focused on by CNN are involved in starting up new ventures, one as a hedge fund manager and the other is CEO for a start-up dot.com. The fifth person profiled by CNN is unemployed and looking for work, just like those not on Wall Street.

What's your unemployment story?

Lita Epstein has written more than 25 books including
Surviving a Layoff: A Week-by-Week Guide to Getting Your Life Back Together.

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