One of the more psychologically significant government reports is the jobs report. On Friday, the Labor Department released the dreaded report. The US economy lost another 663,000 jobs in March. This number was not completely surprising, but neither did it encourage many buyers in the market. Investors awarded the Dow half a percent on average volume.

Friday’s news brings the total job losses to 5.2 million since January 2008. AP ran a story this weekend describing how we’ve lost more jobs as a proportion of our workforce than in any downturn since 1958 – 51 years ago! Things are bad. To further illustrate, Chicago and Houston together have around 5 million residents – that’s a lot of people out of work.

No doubt, you’ve seen signs of lost jobs. In my neighborhood, I’m seeing economic distress in several forms. Some homeowners can no longer afford their hefty mortgages as they erect ‘For Sale’ signs in their front yards. I’ve also noticed a disturbing number of advertisements for various services – lawn mowing, tree trimming, painting, and any other homeowner service you can think of. It seems a difficult job market has turned former employees into entrepreneurs en masse.

In addition, the darker side of a downturn is evident from increased crime published in our monthly neighborhood newsletter. More break-ins have prompted my homeowners association to issue warnings and advice. “Please be aware that our neighborhood is experiencing a dramatic increase of incidents including vandalism, car theft, home theft, peddlers, tagging, and more.”

In an effort to protect you, our dear readers, I decided to republish some advice directly from my beloved Westside News. Hopefully you’ll find something useful as you protect your property in this declining job market…

  • Cars should be parked in the garage. If this is impossible, be sure to keep them locked. If you have expensive wheels, use wheel lock nuts.
  • Keep your cars locked (even while in the garage). If someone tries to get into your car there, the car alarm will go off.
  • Don’t leave valuables in plain view (or in the car at all). Put them in the trunk or bring them into the house.
  • Always arm your house alarm when you leave even to just walk around the neighborhood.
  • Be sure to use a deadbolt on the door and lock it every time you leave the house.
  • Secure sliding doors and windows by either using a broom handle or inserting a nail through the casings.
  • Leave your lights on at night. Buy a timer for indoor lights. Leave your porch light and back light on as well.
  • Install a motion sensor/detector on driveway lights.
  • Keep the garage door closed when you’re not working in the garage. One of our homeowners had a ladder stolen out of his while he was working in the backyard.
  • Lock your gates so people cannot just walk through. We had a homeowner scare off would-be burglars after she did not answer the front door. They had gone around to the back window where she happened to be lying down and heard them.
  • Keep spare keys with a trusted neighbor- not under a doormat, planter/fake rock, on a ledge, etc.