As we head into 2016, all signs point to an economic downturn. Economies are cyclical, after all, and although our economy has been sluggish for years we haven't technically experienced a recession since 2009. Its a scary thought, especially considering that the Fed only raised interest rates a quarter point in the first hike in nearly a decade. With rates stuck at near zero and quantitative easing and government spending already having reached the limits of what could possibly help keep the economy limping along without entirely imploding the system, how will the powers-that-be manage to mitigate the coming recession?

They won't, and that's the scary part. We've already used our get out of jail free card a few trillion times over, and printing them indefinitely will only destroy their value (see what I did there?). It's not so much that economies should have to rely on governmental intervention, because in an ideal world they shouldn't, but ours has for so long that its hard to contemplate the severity of the fall that's coming, or even how to prepare for it.

Economic shifts, of course, represent both opportunities and challenges for the staffing industry. With so much uncertainty combined with the necessity of producing to meet consumer demands over the past several years, staffing has experienced significant growth since the dark days of 2009. And yet, that growth has come with the unsettling knowledge that all isn't entirely as it should be. Wages are stagnant. Benefits are on the decline. More and more American jobs are being shipped overseas while more and more Third World competition arrives to compete for the already low-paying jobs we have now. Still, staffing agencies and other employers struggle to fill the often low-paying jobs they do have with qualified workers, even while millions of workers remain unemployed.

We want companies and job seekers to use us to bring them together, but we want to see those connections we foster as merely an integral piece of a gigantic puzzle of a humming, rolling economy that rewards hard work with opportunities for full-time employment and advancement. While this still exists in many places, the fact that it's not as common as we had hoped is undeniable.

Critics who try to blame this on the staffing industry are missing the larger point. Staffing has existed for years, even in robust economies. These days, it's hardly our fault that poor governmental and Fed policies have led us to the brink of disaster, but I will say it IS our responsibility to do our best to help grease the wheels of an economy that projects to churn along at an ever decreasing pace. To that end, we should continue to provide the absolute best customer service to our clients along with access to the most qualified workers who fit like a glove into each company culture we deal with.

Maybe some of them stay on our payroll a bit longer than what is ideal, but when that happens critics should look to the powers-that-be for the real source of the problem. Meanwhile, I'm going to support someone for President this year who actually has the knowledge, experience, and bold plan to turn things around for the better - Donald Trump!

Why Trump? (This isn't a Staffing Talk endorsement, by the way - just the opinion of one guy who happens to write for Staffing Talk.) Well, he's the only one who, in my opinion, addresses the problems were currently dealing with as a nation in an effective way that doesn't involve manipulating interest rates, printing more money, more government handouts, or enacting useless and overreaching policies - you know, the things we've tried before and don't really work.

Instead, Trump gets to the heart of what could actually go a long way towards fixing the malaise were experiencing - immigration and trade. Immigration - because by willingly letting in everyone who wants to come across regardless of what needed skills they actually have to offer, we are lowering the price of labor, and hence the wages of Americans who are already here. Trade - because by allowing countries like China to enact protective tariffs that we in turn refuse to enact we are encouraging American companies to outsource while lowering the wages of American workers. What is the point of free trade if it's not fair? And it hasn't been fair for a long time.

Those things, combined with a more business friendly tax structure and other pro-growth policies, are just the prescription our country needs to get back on the right track. That and a sensible foreign policy that doesn't involve getting us into a pointless war with Russia over Syria would be a huge bonus! That's what I think anyway, but I'm just one voter. Well have to wait until most of 2016 is complete to see how many others feel the same. Until then, all we can do is keep serving our clients and associates to the very best of our abilities, creating as many perfect unions as possible in an unpredictable, far from perfect economy.

Happy New Year!