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This week our poll question was uncomfortable to ask and answer. A whopping 65% of our readers know a least one person who has lost their job in this recent slump in the marketplace. One quarter of GlobeSt.com watchers don’t know anybody unemployed because of the skid. A painful number know firsthand about the current downsizing activity, because 10% of you have lost your jobs because of it. We spoke with Emmet Austin, chief investment officer of Stonemar Properties about how hard it is to recruit and keep employees, keeping retail doors open and who should be on the lookout.

“I think that we’ve seen a tremendous amount of pain and we’re going to see some more, but we’re nearing the tail end of that. New York City is getting its fair share.

“We probably still have a couple quarters left. It’s a challenging environment. I’m hoping we’re turning the curve. We’re seeing and hearing promising news and sales. There are slightly positive signs. We do have to worry about our economy. Oil and natural gas doubling are driving the consumer to buy goods and services and as a result you’re seeing retailers not meeting their standards. This is why we’re seeing store closures.

“In retail real estate I would take a look at sales volume. We’ve seen an 85% decrease in retail sales transactions in March, which is an incredible dropoff. Leasing brokers are going to see a slowdown in store openings. That’s going to be another area where people should be concerned.

“We’ve also seen a lot of CMBS layoffs and secondary companies that feed off of them.

“People who have a lot of floating rate exposure, they’re going to be the ones struggling and we’re going to see a lot of layoffs from them.

“If you’re in a brokerage house, you’re going to lose people because you have to pay them.”It’s making a lot easier to recruit. High-quality individuals are getting laid off and we are seeing people on the market who are usually not looking for a job. We’re seeing people who aren’t looking for a step up, but a lateral step.”

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