Dividend.com Weekend Edition – Jobs, Washington, and Your Money

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We're coming off a day on Friday where the reality of a poor jobs market reared its ugly head once again. Corporations and their stocks will recover, but the reality is that we are in a labor market where companies are looking to do "more with less" - i.e. grow their businesses while downsizing their workforces. The percentage of American adults (16 and older) who are working, dropped again, to 58.2%. This is the lowest level since 1983.

Jobs website CareerBuilder just put out a report to highlight what parts of the job market are seeing the biggest area of need for employers that participated in their study.

1. Customer Service - 23 percent
2. Information Technology - 21 percent
3. Sales - 20 percent
4. Administrative - 15 percent
5. Business Development - 11 percent
6. Accounting/Finance - 10 percent
7. Marketing - 9 percent

In general, Washington has done a poor job of creating jobs (Congress, GOP, Dems, President, etc.). Unfortunately the powers that be have other interests that come into play first. The working class is saddled with the daily struggle, but politicians look at the stock market as a scoreboard to measure their performance. We know that less and less people are investing in the markets, but why? One reason is that the business media continually makes day trading the daily focus, which is only a recipe for investor losses. The other problem is that individuals are barely able to scrape up enough to pay their bills, let alone save for retirement.

It's clear that our political system struggles in times of economic turbulence. Most of the politicians we vote into office are useless when it comes to having a business/economics IQ. They have no idea how to run a small company, let alone how to fix wide economic shortfalls. Hence the slow grind in finding a solution to lift up what is left of the middle class. Politicians focus mainly on special interests and favors to pay back, then after a bit, on getting re-elected.

What's more, our education system is failing our children and young adults. What good is a system that is unable to adjust to changing global economic conditions? We need better education in areas of real innovation, and a focus on developing skills that can make everyday lives better. We need to create real wealth, not just race from start-up to start-up trying to cash a lottery ticket on whatever the flavor-of-the-day social media buzz is the next candidate for an over-hyped IPO.

Many people have a great deal of their net worth tied into their homes, but no one can really estimate when real estate prices will hit the eventual bottom. The stock market has recovered most of what it has lost (granted you needed to be in the right area of the markets), but for the majority who saw real estate values peak years ago, the timeline to get back to those valuations is a complete unknown. For the middle class to fully recover, it will take a better job environment and also the willingness to remain resilient and do whatever is in one's power to take control of their financial future. Complacency is a big problem out there. I see it whenever I talk to friends, family, and acquaintances about anything money-related. I often speak to fellow parents in my area, and it's been quite a different reaction from men and women when they hear about what I do for a living as a market analyst (and that I've published a book on personal finance/long-tem investing). Guys tend to admit they may not be the most astute when it comes to finance-related issues, but make very little effort to "pick my brain" on the subject. On the other hand, quite a few of the women I have spoken with were much more curious, and didn't hesitate to say they needed to do a better job as a family when it comes to saving money and investing.

Dividend investors have been doing well with the market's rebound and several hundred dividend raises in the second quarter alone, but I urge you to keep up with your personal finances and career, as well. It wasn't too long ago when I shared data from the National Bureau of Economic Research revealing nearly half of Americans said they definitely or probably couldn't come up with $2,000 in 30 days.

To make a change, we need to take action. The solutions are clear. You work more, earn more, pay off your debts, and get back to the positive side of the money ledger. If you have to work 18 hours a day to turn your life around, then do it! I worked seven days a week for five years straight when I ran my family food business. I took six days off during that time and had no vacations. It wasn't easy, but when is sacrifice ever easy? Personal finance solutions are cut and dry: it's up to the individual to pay their dues in order to improve their lot.

If you lack consistency when it comes to putting money to work, or are still contemplating your first move, it's time to get busy (regardless of what the market is doing day-to-day, month-to-month, or year-to year). The hardest job isn't finding the right stocks to buy (Dividend.com has that covered), but rather it's the individual's ability to allocate funds and put them to work. Be relentless! No one will ever care more about your money than YOU!

With that said, I'd like to thank everyone for letting me be a part of your weekend reading. I'll see you on Monday!

Be sure to visit our complete recommended list of the Best Dividend Stocks , as well as a detailed explanation of our ratings system here .

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of The NASDAQ, Inc.

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