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The Market

(September 17,  2004) - The mail from our recent article about Craigslist and the newspaper industry included a good deal of solid questions about the size and scope of our market. Our  view that Craig's readers are not a part of the newspaper market (because they do not read newspapers) drew some tough assessment. Long term readers will understand that our view of the market is larger than most. We find it relatively roomy and very, very inclusive.

Classified advertising (online or otherwise) is the visible aggregate face of the labor market. While a good deal of 'horse-race' reporting focuses on National/International players and activities, the real action is local. Local can mean geography, interest, profession or industry, online or off. The 21st Century Employment Marketplace includes all efforts to inform prospective employees about job, employment or career opportunities.

The size of the market is a function of the perceived scarcity of resources. In an economy with 15% unemployment, you don't have to work very hard to let people know that a job opening exists. Networks take care of that communication process.

At 4.5%, the economy is producing jobs faster than they can be filled and there is a tremendous premium on getting the message into the right minds. Advertising, or some form of managed communications, must be used to deliver the right information to the right people. The lower the unemployment rate, the higher the requiement for very precise targeting. In other words, local or niche services should be both more expensive and effective as the economy heats up.

There are a couple of pretty powerful trends that complicate the story.

The simultaneous aging and shrinking of the workforce doesn't necessarily mean that workers will evaporate over night. Rather,  the immediate future will be chock full of alternative work arrangements. Retirees (a flood by 2007) will have strong discretion in the shape an content of their post-retirement vocational occupations. With 50 being described as "the new 30", it's clear that post-occupational employment, whether to make ends meet or to provides sustained challenge will drive the competitive landscape.

20 years of nonsense from big corporations have decreased the likelihood that there are any buyers left for stories of security and better benefits. There is a growing, still hard to define, structural shift towards self-employment. Most recent publications on the subject of career management urge the adoption of a self-employment ethic even when employed by a large concern. The internet has significantly harnessed this trend making all sorts of unique revenue generation situations possible outside of mainstream structures.

These two trends feed each other. Self-support beyond the confines of the corporation simply accelerates the arrival of labor shortages. The value of the marketplace grows in inverse proportion to the availble talent in the network.

John Sumser

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Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
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