06/29/2010 01:56 pm ET Updated May 25, 2011

You Can Help Fix the Economy

Unemployment has been hovering above 9 percent across the U.S. for over a year. Nearly one in 10 Americans has the will and ability work, but has not been able to find suitable work. Without an income, they are likely having to rely on government assistance in order to pay the bills. Plus, the feeling of uncertainty and hopelessness that accompany unemployment can lead to depression and the belief that they do not have anything of value to offer the world. So what can you do?

As someone who was laid off as a victim of the economic downturn, I know that efforts to help someone get a job can make a world of difference in their lives. It's OK if you don't have the ability to hire them or know someone who can. There's still a lot you can do. If nothing else, you can show that you care about them and that their value does not rely solely on the work that they do. Here are some practical and easy ways to help:

• Offer to provide a positive reference for anyone you know that is currently looking for work.
• Connect with unemployed friends, former coworkers, and family members on LinkedIn so that they can access your network of connections as they search for jobs.
• Be willing to talk with someone who is interested in transitioning into your field of work.
• Periodically send an encouraging e-mail to anyone you know that's unemployed. Let them know that you're thinking about them and that you'll do whatever you can to help.
• Look to see if your company is hiring. If so, think about whether or not you know of anyone that would be a good fit for any of those positions. If they're hired, an added benefit of being able to help someone get a job is that you may receive a referral bonus from your company.

There's no doubt that this is a difficult time in our country for many Americans. Unemployment can be scary and life-altering. The good news is that none of us is alone and that this is an opportunity to support our friends and colleagues in need. That's how we can 'fix' the economy.