Editor's viewpoint: Job losses just a symptom of malaise at the heart of our political process as the rudderless ship of state drifts on
Since the beginning of this year, around 1,000 people have been told that either their job is going or it is in jeopardy.
In virtually every case the news has come as something of a bolt from the blue.
Suddenly, the plans and prospects of those affected have been put to naught. Their families face a significantly bleaker future as well.
For each individual involved there will be differing degrees of hardship, concern, worry about the future, fear that their home could be taken from them, even the thought that perhaps their skills are not transferable or that their age may mitigate against them in the job market.
These job loses are a symptom of a malaise at the heart of politics here.
Northern Ireland is a province without leadership. The political impasse means devolution is non-existent and the UK government is reluctant to put its hand to the tiller of the ship of state, and so the drift continues.
This time last week there was optimism that a deal to break the deadlock was in the offing.
Today, the energies of the two main parties are devoted to avoiding the blame for those hopes being dashed.
Ultimately, does it really matter if the DUP and Sinn Fein were near to a deal or not, or that the prospect of an Irish Language Act so spooked DUP members that ending the impasse was impossible?
What we are left with are two big parties, the voices of their respective communities in effect, retreating into their silos and hurling toxic abuse at each other. The DUP seems the more leaden-footed when it comes to dancing on the head of a pin in this blame game.
What are the real issues facing an administration, if we had one? The state of the economy, telling the world we are open for business, transforming the ailing health service, rebuilding infrastructure and thereby helping the construction industry and safeguarding education. These issues will make a real difference to all our lives and they desperately need ministerial direction.