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On Demand (Free Agent Society)

Face it, we are all free agents.

iTunes and iPods forever changed the music industry. You can use Shazam to recognize a song playing on XM in a restaurant and download it immediately.

We can go to Hulu and watch 30 Rock or Family Guy whenever we want.

We can download movies to our DVR from Direct TV anytime we desire.

Thanks to the Kindle, books are now on-demand and Apple’s tablet PC will only fuel the market for digital readers and book downloads.

And now, like Major League Baseball players, workers are now realizing that they too are free agents and on-demand.

The New York Times small business blog offers up some great advice on managing a career. In short, manage it like a small business. With so many people unemployed or fearful of being laid off, human resources experts are recommending that workers think of their careers as small businesses because the market for temporary and contract work has picked up.

Social-networking sites, "cloud computing" and mobile communications likely will produce a "surge of entrepreneurs," says Jim Jonassen, head of Jim Jonassen & Associates Venture Search.

Just like a baseball team in need of a left-handed hitter who can hit with power, employers in need of PHP programmer with banking experience or a sales team that needs a specialist in selling to government agencies are signing players who fit their needs for a finite amount of time and just when they need it.

In the new world order, growing and cultivating employees for the long-term is going the way of AOL. Developing your personal brand and product, is now the new norm.

For baseball players, salaries and revenues exploded especially for those with exceptional or specialized talents. The new job market along with everything we buy or consume is quickly becoming on-demand and at the whim of buyer.

It will be interesting to see if salaries increase and how much movement occurs as the economy improves. I’m betting it will for workers who find their niche and realize their true value.

Hopeful Signs, Just Not At The Pump Or On Main Street

In case you haven’t notice, energy prices are up. Some of this is the result of a weaker dollar. But a lot of this is the result of an increase in consumption. Gasoline inventories are down and Saudi Arabia’s call for $70 to $75 dollar oil appears to be a target price for years, not just weeks or months.

While the weaker dollar impacts oil prices, it provides a positive outlook for exporters who should benefit from a lower dollar in the coming months.

Housing appears to be close to a bottom and hopefully the worst is over for a beaten industry. Consumers are still very cautious, they are not buying cars and savings continue to rise. Most of the latest surveys indicate that the consumer feels better about the future, but that may not translate into sales until later this fall.

On the downside, ADP reports that businesses with fewer than 500 employees dropped four times as many jobs as larger businesses did last month. With consumer spending down and continued tight credit, small businesses that might otherwise be growing are still having to cut back and cut staff.

It looks like the economy may not be in recovery mode yet, but the recession is definitely moderating. Employment growth will probably lag for most of this year particularly for small businesses. But the consumer should be back soon and that would be welcome news to everyone including those who own businesses on Main Street.