Chapter 4Job Market Fundamentals

The job market is getting better. It really is. At the worst of the Great Recession, there were seven job seekers for each open job in the United States. Today that number is less than two, meaning statistically you only have to beat out one other person to nab the job.

In the sea of economic statistics, that number is quite encouraging. The recovery in jobs, though slow and not yet broad-based, is more important to you today than just about any other economic statistic—more crucial than the stock market rally, the price of coffee, the interest rate on your student loan, or any other number in your financial life.

Unless you have a trust fund (lucky you!) or you just sold a high-frequency trading algorithm right out of school to Goldman Sachs (don't spend it all in one place!), your job is the engine of your personal economy. The job brings a paycheck; it pays the bills and fuels the savings and investments that will carry you into ever more exciting stages of your life—traveling the world, buying a home, getting married, having children, sending them to college, and, finally, retiring. It's a career arc that you are just starting, and many of the millennial generation are frustrated that they haven't started on that arc where ...

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