Back to work with a bump after festivities

FOR many of us today marks our first day back at work following the well-deserved Christmas and New Year break.

And for most it's a wrench to have to leave the cosy confines of the house and return to the daily slog of the nine to five.

After the fun and relaxation of the festive period we may well find today something of a shock to the system as a we come back to normality with a bump.

It doesn't help that it's January, traditionally a damp squib of a difficult month.

The weather has been particularly brutal of late, the freezing cold temperatures of recent weeks sapping mind, body and soul.

And with the expense of Christmas and all it entails, January can feel an awfully long month from the point of view of our pockets.

That January pay day can never come too soon.

But even though we might not think it, if we have returned to a job today we are among the lucky ones.

This year, more than most, we should be well aware that there are plenty out there who would dearly love to be in our shoes.

Last year was one of volatility in the jobs market, especially in Yorkshire.

This time last year, official figures showed the county had the biggest percentage rise in unemployment of any UK region.

The number of people out of work had climbed by more than six per cent – or 14,000 – in just three months.

Thankfully things improved as the year went on, but it was accompanied by warnings from the Bank of England that growth would be slow and haphazard, a fact reflected in the jobs market.

The year ahead will see more job losses as a result of the cuts brought in by the Coalition government's Comprehensive Spending Review.

So, while we may not have felt ourselves to be particularly fortunate when the alarm clock went off this morning, perhaps the spectre of unemployment will mean that in 2011 we come to view work in a slightly different light.

Often the daily grind can feel like little more than a means to an end.

But perhaps we should start thinking harder about just what a job provides for ourselves and our families.

For many, the last 12 months have been a time of struggle and uncertainty as they have worried about having enough money to cover the mortgage or to carry on putting food on the table.

While in these uncertain economic times we can never afford to count our chickens, January is perhaps a good time to count our blessings.

For those in public sector jobs there is an understandable sense of uncertainty and unease about what 2011 may bring.

For the rest of us, however, there should be a sense that things should get better this year and that new opportunities may lie ahead.

As we resume our busy working lives we should remember that our day to day efforts will clothe and feed our families and keep a roof over their heads over the course of the next 12 months.

And that alone is reason to keep going.