The Business Breakdown

Employment news, fuel prices, and organizational structure mean something for cooperatives during the week of April 11.


The government didn’t shut down, which is definitely a positive. But few Americans are impressed with the skirmish. Things are in upheaval these days, and as mixed numbers roll out and prices for essentials move higher, consumers are cautiously optimistic. This week, we take a look at just how confusing the jobs numbers are, ways members can counteract high gas prices, and what a flat company could mean for cooperatives.

  • Men Are Down But Jobs Are Up: Businessweek reports on how the recession has broken the spirits of men: Males are giving up looking for jobs. CNNMoney says that despite the productivity side of the economy slowing, jobs won’t be affected. Small businesses are adding jobs out of necessity. These two stories don't seem to match. The Breakdown: This is the nature of employment news today. Part of it looks bleak, and part of it looks promising. The reality is somewhere in the middle. Many companies are hiring, but unemployment is still a huge problem. What can cooperatives do? Become a value-add resource for members. Next time a member comes in for a small business loan, ask them if they’ll be hiring soon. Maybe they could use some help, and another member could use some work.
  • Gas Guzzles Paychecks: Gas prices are rising. That affects everyone. The national average is $3.791. Ouch. The Breakdown: Members are going to be talking about this a lot. Credit unions can help in two ways. First, post recommendations about carpooling or getting to work via public transportation. Second, find ways to save members money. Refinancing is a great place to start.
  • Is A Flat World Better?: Chicago software company 37signals uses a flat corporate culture to drive processes and encourage teamwork. It's a workplace with no bosses essentially. The Breakdown: Most credit unions are organized with a distinct hierarchy. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But what can you learn from thinking about the cooperative as a flat organization? Maybe just discuss the idea in a staff meeting. The talk itself could be valuable.



April 12, 2011



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