Mergers and acquisitions are ruining the job market


This ought not to be news, but it’s amazing how many people aren’t paying attention.

Firms constantly merging reduces the number of jobs available. Period.

Merging is, of course, the logical thing to do when a market matures. It’s also a logical choice when you don’t know what else to do and are being paid to deliver “growth”.

Everyone knows that, the further up the greasy pole of management you climb, the number of opportunities ahead for you gets constricted. Organizations are pyramids, with less room at the top than at the bottom.

That’s all right, though, from a personal point of view, as long as there are many pyramids (organizations) out there.

Suppose you are an American banker. You’d like to move up, but the opportunities to do so where you are seem limited. So you look around and end up moving to a competitor.

In 1985, you’d have had some 15,000 of those to choose from. It was down to 7,284 by the end of 2009. Now it’s fallen under 5,000.

Two-thirds of the potential opportunities gone, in about thirty years.

(Canadian bankers just stayed put, of course, for even counting credit unions there are less than 100 places to jump to here — and only four or five that pay as well as the bank you’re at, if you’re at one of the major Chartered Banks operating coast to coast.)

Another problem is with a loss of head office roles, if you’re entering at the subsidiary of a foreign-owned company.

You might not have noticed, but global mobility has not been made easier in the past ten years. More barriers to moving people around have come into play.

Data, however, is highly mobile. A Polish firm buys a Canadian mining company, and there’s nothing stopping all the IT work slipping out of the country and overseas. Ditto most of the corporate legal, all the corporate strategy, most of the finance and administration. So another whole slew of work that even a few years ago likely stayed put goes away now.

With everyone buying everyone else, that’s a lot of back office job killing.

This is why, as Generation X (the cohort between the baby boomers and the children of the boomers) comes through the job world, it sheds people even though it’s much smaller than the boomer cohort it’s moving behind. The jobs are dying faster than the downsizing from boomer to Gen X cohort takes place.

Oh, and the millennial generation following Gen X is larger, but with fewer landing pads, much less opportunities to climb the ladder. Does this (do you suppose) have anything to do with the difficulty graduates have getting on the job ladder, the endless unpaid internships or barista roles “waiting for opportunity”, the years spent as a sessional appointee or postdoc without ever being offered a real academic job, and so on?

All that M&A that was “so good” for your portfolio isn’t good when the game of musical chairs stops and you’re the one left standing, is it?

Well, the world is as it is. The question is, what will you do to protect you and your family?

Here at Personal Due Diligence, we take the view that the whole person and the whole situation matters.

Maybe, just maybe, the next rung on the ladder isn’t the answer for you. Maybe getting a lateral shift into something with more staying power would make more sense given your family’s security needs of the moment.

Maybe, on the other hand, you should be leaping: into an organization of a different size, across industries, or into self-employment or entrepreneurship. For some people that’s a fate worse than death — neither the Presidency of the Third State Bank of Podunk (having been at Goldman Sachs) nor entrepreneurship appeals and thus would be a permanent source of tension. For others it’s a moment of liberation.

Each comes with risks and rewards, and what we’re here to do is help you see what those are and move with knowledge and sure-footedness.

Do talk to us. Shrinking opportunities don’t have to squeeze you dry and toss you away.

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