To those who were lucky enough to be in Trinidad for Carnival, the “greatest show on earth”, earlier this week – it was fabulous, wasn’t it? Now it’s back to reality.
The downturn seems to be taking effect in the Caribbean with spectacular casualties. The Prime Minister of T&T advised citizens to “tighten their belts” and it seems that the people are heeding his words, thus putting a strain on businesses particularly those in the service sectors. So how do we get through these difficult times? Guest journalist, Amelia Hayes, reports on her impressions from a recent trip to Miami.
Tighten your Belt … by Amelia Hayes
With words such as “Recession”, “tighten your belt”, “hard times”, bailouts and companies closing or downsizing …. How severe is the global economic state and how many of us are really thinking before spending our dollars? Can we survive it? As President Obama says, “Yes we can!”
I recently returned from Florida where I interviewed Trini’s living there as well as US citizens as to how they are being affected, if at all and how has life changed for them.
A couple days before Christmas thousands of people flocked to the malls trying to catch the holiday sales following the “Black Friday” sales. At Sawgrass and Aventura malls as with other malls, people were bustling about looking for deals but frivolous spending wasn’t taking place. Business owners complained it was the worst in terms of sales they’ve experienced.
Zorinah of Miami Gardens (a Trini who migrated) said that it hasn’t affected her in any significant way and in fact she earned more last year than the year before and shopped as usual for the Christmas season. She hasn’t changed her lifestyle in any way neither did she decrease her spending power. She doesn’t see the recession seriously affecting her earnings in a way that will significant diminish her quality of life at present.
Realistically, we are all affected in one way or another but for some it’s not significant enough for them to start worrying at present. For some, the value of their properties have dropped and they can refinance paying less on their Mortgage; for others, they are stuck paying more for their homes than it’s now worth. Banks are no longer giving loans in fear of not recovering their money due to loss of jobs and bankruptcy which is expected to happen in large numbers this year. Basically the average person is the one feeling it the most, as is always the case! Those with low incomes, minimal education as well as a household to feed and not knowing what their next move should be; those are the people hurting. They comprise of sales clerks in department stores, administrative staff, gas station attendants, automotive sales people and many more.
It would be wise to do an analysis of where you live, irregardless to what part of the Globe (the Caribbean, US, UK etc) and look at the industries in operation, the areas that bring income to sustain the economy, find out what jobs are in demand and put a plan of action into place from there. E.g. it’s public knowledge that we have a shortage of nurses locally and the news recently highlighted the shortage of pharmacists at the POS General Hospital and the country! Reality is the number of diabetic, hypertension, cancer, and Aids cases have grown tremendously and thousand of persons are currently on medication needing the expertise of a pharmacist.
It will take some thinking and research on your part but it’s beneficial to your future to find other means of income and be versatile to earn a living. No longer is specialization in a field an absolute must. With companies downsizing and employees multi-tasking while doing the jobs of I.T. Manager, database administrator and technical support, it would be wise to acquire skills in varying fields. From the beginning of time man has adapted to his environment and circumstances, the same will occur during difficult global economic times but we will survive and evolve!
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