The last decade has brought with it unprecedented changes as well as obstacles. The effects of the recent economic downturn continue, impacting – in some cases irrevocably – organizations, communities, industries, and nations. Such widespread and devastating effects at national and organizational levels are invariably accompanied by effects at the individual level. People are losing their livelihood, their savings, their home, and their job. The clearest indication of this loss can be seen in the steadily increasing unemployment and layoff rates across the globe. The simple fact is that people are being laid off. In fact, while the United States’ unemployment rate is nowhere near that of the Great Depression (at that time, the rate was in excess of 25%), it is still quite high, hitting 10% in late 2009 and slowly moving downward to 9.5% as of June, 2010 (U.S. Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics). Additionally, unemployment rates in key trading countries are accelerating, a trend that may evolve into a downward spiral; resulting in joblessness worldwide. In response, the U.S. government spent $700 billion in 2008 to mitigate further damage to the weakening global economy (Workman, 2008). The global financial crisis is a reality in today’s global, unpredictable, and highly interconnected environment.
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