It’s official: We’re in a recession. (At least according to the panel of economists that’s responsible for determining the dates of business cycles, as reported by http://www.msnbc.msn.com.) So what does that mean to you and me? If you’ve lost your job, it probably means a lot. If your job still seems pretty secure, it might not mean that much. And it apparently didn’t mean that much to millions of shoppers because even the warnings of recession last week weren’t enough to slow down United States consumers, who spent a record amount on “Black Friday

As you probably know, I’m not an economist or a business analyst. I’ve never taken any courses in economics or business. At the University of California, Berkeley, where I got my computer science degree, business students had to take computer science courses, but computer science students didn’t have to take business courses.  However, I’m a consumer and a money-earner, so I do care about the economy. And it’s nice when my personal income is at least as much as my outgo.

I’m wondering how much I should worry about the news of the recession. I know people who have lost their jobs recently, but I also know people who just found jobs. And I know people who lost jobs last year, and the year before that. So which job losses can I attribute to this recession? And again, should I worry?

Last summer, three of the four public classes I was scheduled to teach were cancelled because of lack of enrollment.  Was the lack of enrollment because of the recession, the imminent release of SQL Server 2008 (and my course was based on SQL Server 2005), or was it just because it was summer and people wanted to do other things besides sit in a classroom for five straight days?  Having the classes cancelled actually turned out to be a good thing. A break from teaching meant that I could work on my next book. I made major progress on it in August. However, since September I’ve been teaching or speaking at conferences two weeks out of every month, and I’m pretty much booked through June 2009.  So should I worry?

Now I will admit that when I talk about jobs, I’m only thinking about jobs in technology, which is the area I’m familiar with. I searched online and came up with several predictions that the recession won’t impact the tech sector as severely as other areas. One of those predictions came from George F. Colony at Forrester Research on his blog at http://blogs.forrester.com/colony/2008/10/my-take-on-the.html. Another prediction, which you can view at http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/23472166, specifically addressed how the recession will affect the video game industry.

In non-tech sectors, my daughter and son-in-law are both out of work and looking hard. But is their lack of offers because of the recession, their pickiness in the kind of jobs they’ll accept, or the fact that they’ve been living out of the country for the last 10 years and have absolutely no job history in the United States? Should they worry?

Whether people’s unemployment is because the recession, and despite of all the spending last Friday, the fact is that there are many people who aren’t spending money because they have no money to spend. Our local food bank is almost out of food, and there’s more demand than ever. So in spite of the fact that my income looks secure for the immediate future, we will be cutting back on what we buy for our children this Christmas. Instead, we’ll take some of the money we might have spent on them and give it to local organizations who can help our neighbors who have far less than we do.