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Cyclical science

Not your father's recession

“I am sorry son, but I have just been laid off.” Those were my father's words to me 16 years ago amid the recession of the early 1990s. It was a brutally hot summer's day in my hometown of Plano, Texas, when I received that worrisome news. I was 15 years old and he was a manager at Texas Instruments. Uncertainty about the future consumed my thoughts. Will we have to move? How will we be able to buy things such as food and clothes? Fortunately, my dad got a job a few months later.

Fast-forward 16 years. Another economic recession is leaving thousands of people jobless every week. As a postdoc, I am looking to establish a career soon. But I don't relish the possibility that one day I may have to tell my kids that their dad doesn't have a job. After all, I know how it feels.

With the current recession, questions race through my mind. How long will it last? Should I delay entering the job market and wait for the economy to get better? If I take a position too soon, will I be laid off shortly thereafter?

Nevertheless, at the end of the day I am an optimist. The US economy is usually cyclical, and so I am convinced that it will rebound. I don't know how bad the recession will become, but I know this too shall pass.

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Venters, B. Cyclical science. Nature 458, 112 (2009).

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