Article 43


Monday, February 18, 2013

Temp Nation


Temp Worker Nation—If You Do Get Hired, It Might Not Be for Long
Writers and warehouse workers, janitors and business consultants, truck drivers and graphic designers--all are part of the new “precariat,” and they have no social safety net.

By Steven Wishnia
August 20, 2012

Almost one-third of American workers now do some kind of freelance workand they lack almost every kind of economic security that permanent full-time workers have traditionally had. 

Though exact figures are impossible to find, many experts and labor organizers estimate that about 30 percent of U.S. workers are “contingent.” That means they don’t have a permanent job. They work as freelancers, temporary workers, on contract, or on call, or their employers define them (often illegally) as “independent contractors.”

Their ranks include writers and warehouse workers, janitors and business consultants, truck drivers and graphic designersand their number is rising. Richard Greenwald, a sociologist of work and professor at St. Joseph’s College in Brooklyn, estimates that their share of the U.S. workforce has increased by close to half in the last ten years. In July, Staffing Industry Analysts reported that the average share of contingent workers at companies it surveyed had gone up by one-third since 2009, to 16 percent. Last year, a different survey found that contingent workers averaged 22 percent of the workers at 200 large companies.

These workers are often called the ”PRECARIAT," a combination of “precarious” and ”PROLETARIAT” because the traditional social safety nets for workers don’t cover them. They have no job security as they hustle from one gig to the next, and they often don’t know where their next job is coming from or when it will come. They very rarely get paid sick days or vacation. They don’t get paid extra for working overtime. They are usually not eligible for unemployment benefits. They generally have to pay both the worker’s and the employers share of Social Security taxes. They have to pay for their own health insurance, and Obamacare won’t change that. (Beginning in 2014, people will be able to buy private insurance at group rates, and lower-income and working-class people will get some subsidies to help them pay for it.)

They have few options if an employer cheats them out of their pay. If they are independent contractors, they do not have the right to form a labor union.

INSTABILITY is going to be with us,” says Sara Horowitz, head of the New York-based Freelancers Union. “The truth is that we’re in a period of decline for workers.”

The New Way We Work

Who are freelancers and contingent workers? The federal Bureau of Labor Statistics has not done an official study since 2005, when it estimated that they were 10 to 15 percent of the U.S. workforce. If their income is reported on a 1099 tax form instead of on a W-2 form with deductions, its monthly payroll surveys won’t count them as having jobs. Its household surveys will count them as employed, but don’t ask about their job arrangements.

Catherine Ruckelshaus, legal codirector of the National Employment Law Project in New York, counts “everyone whos not a W-2 employee,” including people paid on 1099s, franchisees, and people paid in cash, such as construction day laborers, as a contingent worker. Richard Greenwald arrived at his estimates by counting sole-proprietorship businesses and people who listed more income on 1099s than on W-2s.

“The number has risen significantly in the last 15 years,” Greenwald says, “and the pace has increased since the Great Recession began, with many new jobs permatemps.” This trend affects workers at all income levels, but the fastest-growing sector is college graduates in “creative” fields. In the last few years, book publishers and advertising agencies have outsourced their graphic designers, HIRING THEM BACK AS FREELANCERS WITH NO BENEFITS. Many publishers now hire editors on a per-manuscriptbasis.

As the industry or technology tweaks, it often does so in a way that’s freelance or nonunion, says Justin Molito, director of organizing with the Writers’ Guild of America East. For example, writers on HBO’s scripted shows are unionized, but those on basic cable and reality TV shows aren’t.

Greenwald distinguishes between workers who chose freelancing and those who were “shoved into it.” The most successful freelancers, he says, are information-technology, management, and finance consultants. They have a specific skill and steady clients, and think of themselves as entrepreneurs. “Many white-collar freelancers make middle-class incomes, $45,000 to $50,000 a year,” he says, “but they have to pay for the office supplies, health insurance, and taxes that would normally be covered by an employer, and they have no security.”

This is not just a recession-induced thing, he says. It reflects a long-term change in the economy. Since the 1980s, managements philosophy has evolved to “look at work as projects.” Instead of keeping workers on staff to perform all tasks needed, they outsource them or hire consultants.

“This gives companies tremendous flexibility without any risk,” Greenwald says. “Flexibility means they don’t have to keep people on the payroll during slack periods, pay them when theyre sick, pay for their health insurance, or obey workplace regulations.” This, he says, has ”shifted all the risks that large institutions used to have onto the backs of individuals.”

“It’s a great business model, but as a social model, it doesn’t work,” he explains. Essentially, it means that the world of work is becoming more like the music business, in which a handful of superstars get rich and a minority of professionals have steady work with benefits, but most workers have to scuffle for intermittent, low-paying gigs, and hard work and talent are worthless without marketing skills, clout, and charisma. “The bar to get in is low, but the ability to make a living is harder and harder,” he says.

“The overall social change might be as big as the shift from farm to factory,” Greenwald says. “I don’t think that many freelancers have thought of this as a permanent way of life. It seems to be a shift back to 19th-century artisanal culture.”

The Casual Working Class

Though the traditional image of a freelancer is a middle-class professional like a magazine writer or computer consultant, this shift affects a huge number of blue-collar workers too, especially in the fast-growing fields of warehousing, delivery, and home health care. Many of these workers are now either temps or defined as independent contractors.

“Often relying on the use of temporary and staffing agencies, OUTSOURCING IN THESE INDUSTRIES HAS ALSO RESULTED IN COMPARATIVELY LOWER WAGES FOR WORK SIMILAR TO THE JOBS PREVIOUSLY PERFORMED IN-HOUSE,” the National Employment Law Project reported in “Chain of Greed,” a study of Walmart warehouses released in June.

At the Nissan AUTO FACTORY in Canton, Mississippi, more than 20 percent of the 4,400 workers are temps, according to the Labor Notes monthly newsletter. The company says it plans to hire 1,000 new workers this year, but all will be temporary. The temps start at $12 an hour, below what permanent workers earn, and workers say no temp has ever been permanently hired at the plant. Even at Fords Detroit-area plants, the classic bastion of union industrial labor, local activist Dianne Feeley, a retired United Auto Workers member, says a significant percentage of workers are temps or contract workers.

“A huge problem,” says Catherine Ruckelshaus, “is employers illegally defining workers as independent contractors. Some employers are asking workers to form LLCs [limited liability companies, a form of business that combines features of a corporation and a partnership] before a construction drywall job.”

FedEx Ground, for example, defines its 15,000 drivers as independent contractors, even though they drive company-assigned routes and must drive vans with the FedEx logo and color scheme.

“There are millions of Americans classified as independent contractors by the companies they work for, but effectively working as employees,” American Rights at Work, a Washington-based labor-rights nonprofit, said in a 2007 report on FedEx Ground. “These workers suffer the worst of both worlds: they toil without the protections and benefits of employees, yet are without the control over their work that true independent contractors enjoy.”

The legal definition, Ruckelshaus says, is whether the person is running an independent business - are they investing their own money, and can they pass on increased costs? The Internal Revenue Services general rule is that an individual is an independent contractor if the person hiring them has ғthe right to control or direct only the result of the work, while the worker decides “the means and methods “of accomplishing the result.

The scam’s advantage for employers is that they don’t have to pay minimum wage or overtime, Social Security, Medicare, or unemployment taxes, or workers’ compensation. The result, the American Rights at Work report said, is that FedEx drivers not only make less money than those at UPS, who are permanent workers with a union; they also have to pay for gas and maintenance for their vans. Many lease vans from a company-approved supplier, Ruckelshaus says.

Some employers define even janitors and home health-care aides as franchisees,Ӕ she continues. For example, an office buildings management might hire a cleaning-services subcontractor, which will then have its workers buy the job of cleaning one section of the building in exchange for a piece of the companyҒs fee.

Coverall, a Florida-based cleaning-services company, calls its more than 9,000 workers franchisees,Ӕ and its more than 90 regional offices are support centers.Ӕ In Boston, says Ruckelshaus, these franchisees might have to pay the company as much as $10,000 to claim a job, recouping that investment from their wages. If they dont have the money, they can borrow it from a company-recommended lender. In some cases, she says, they have had to work the first month on spec, getting paid for it only if the Coverall boss approves them for the job. They also have to buy cleaning equipment and supplies from the company. But Coverall makes the deals for the jobs, so the workers canҒt raise their rates or ask the client for work on their own.

In home health care, a field with 3 million workers, mostly women, that is one of the fastest-growing job categories in the U.S. economy, for-profit agencies are calling themselves registriesӔ of independent contractors. They do this, says Ruckelshaus, even though they hire the workers, train them, assign them to jobs, and set rates. It means they dont have to pay minimum wage or overtime.

“Theres no enforcement,"she says. “It becomes part of the structure of these jobs.”

Warehouse and shipping work is a major area of abuse. Walmart and Amazon outsource their massive warehouse and shipping operations to subcontractors, who then use temporary agencies to hire workers. Workers often dont even know who their actual employer is, says Ruckelshaus.

“They pit these little subcontractors against each other,” says Erin Johansson, research director of American Rights at Work. “To compete and win a contract, youve got to pay your workers minimal wages.”

In this system, according to the “Chain of Greed” report, workers are paid piecework, according to the number of containers or trucks they finish unloading on a shift, instead of an hourly wage. They dont get paid for anything else they do on the job. The result is “rampant minimum wage and overtime violations,” the report said. Workers also have to unload dangerously stacked piles of boxes, some of which weigh up to 200 pounds, says Johansson.

Walmart insists on ever-lower costs, so “workers are the ones getting squeezed and chiseled,” says Ruckelshaus. “This relationship is hurting low-wage women and those at the bottom of the supply chains, and the big corporations aren’t being held accountable for low wages and poor conditions.”

Another issue is that freelancers have almost no recourse if an employer cheats them. State wage-theft laws do not cover freelancers. If a client stiffs them, its considered a business dispute, so their only recourse is to sue in small-claims court. That can take months and multiple court appearances, and even if you win your case, collecting the debt is not guaranteed.

The Freelancers Union says 77 percent of its 180,000 members have had trouble collecting money they’re owed. Earlier this year, it lobbied for New York to enact a law that would let stiffed freelancers file wage-theft complaints with the state Department of Labor. But in New York’s gerrymandered legislature, the measure wound up as a one-house bill: It passed in the Democrat-dominated Assembly, but never reached the floor in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

“If you have 30 percent of the workforce being exploited, that lowers standards for everybody,” says Johansson.

What Can Be Done?

Traditional union organizing is notoriously difficult with contingent workers. Organized labors strongest power over employers is workersԒ ability to go on strike and stop production. If freelancers try that on their own, the employer will simply hire someone else. That they have neither a common location nor a collective workforce are also barriers to organizing collectively.

The Writers Guild of America, a union of TV and movie screenwriters, has successfully organized freelancers, winning elections and creating collective-bargaining agreements at studios. In July, it won company-paid health benefits, paid vacation, and a minimum salary for writers at two New York reality-show studios. But its 4,000 members’ status is much closer to permanent workers than most freelancers are. “They usually work on long-term contracts, typically three or four years, and have professional relationships and solidarity among themselves,” says Justin Molito.

“This is a long-term movement to aid those who’ve fallen through the cracks,” Molito says. “As other industries become more freelance, the LABOR MOVEMENT HAS TO DEVELOP STRATEGIES to create organizations that provide protections and make improvements. Those strategies include “building a long-term movement, raising standards across the board, trying to organize an entire industry.”

The Freelancers Unions Horowitz has largely abandoned the traditional union model, to the point where the organization might be more accurately described as a service and lobbying group than a labor union. Permanent workers are losing security and benefits, she says, so why should freelancers expect them?

“I exist in reality,” she says. “The first step is to admit that some things changed.”

Instead, she touts what she calls the “new mutualism,” freelancers banding together on the principles of affinity and solidarity, such as networking and organizing cooperatives to buy food and health insurance. (The group sells nonprofit health insurance to 23,000 members in New York, and plans to expand that to New Jersey and Oregon in 2014, when the Obamacare insurance exchanges open.)

But how is any of that going to help get freelancers paid sick days? “Good luck with that,” she answers.

“Organized freelancers will be able to make the freelance economy work even better,” she explains in an e-mail, “by influencing the freelance labor market, by continuing to improve the laws that affect freelancers (i.e., passing legislation to give freelancers recourse when they are stiffed) and by continuing to give freelancers opportunities to work together.” On the other hand, she says “the Freelancers Union will not be able on its own to reverse larger economic trends like declining wages in the media industry.”

“Workers should speak out about abuses,” says Johansson. The bad publicity created by shining a light on working conditions for large companies such as Walmart and Amazon might help hold them accountable for HOW SUBCONTRACTORS and their workers ARE TREATED.

Legally, she says, “just enforcing the law” against MISCLASSIFICATION would help. In June, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that the 350 taxi drivers at Baltimore-Washington International Airport had been wrongly classified as independent contractors. Their employer, which has an exclusive contract for taxi service at the airport, is appealing the decision.

Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) and Rep. Lynn Woolsey (D-CA) have introduced bills to tighten the definition of an independent contractor.

Still, trying to improve conditions for freelancers and contingent workers is difficult in an economic system that has been vampirizing workers rights and incomes for a generation.

“The social contract that was part of American society for many years is dead,” says Greenwald. “We need to have a serious conversation about who’s winning and who’s not winning.”

“The cutthroats can survive in this new world,” he says, “but the rest of society is suffering.”



Americas hidden unemployment crisis
Temp workers easily cast aside but have little safety net

By John Gress

Craig Berry, who has been unemployed for 10 months, signs up for temporary work at a Manpower temporary agency in Chicago on Feb. 5.

Over the past decade, U.S. businesses increasingly have relied on contract workers as a way to keep a lid on health care and retirement benefit costs and to give them more flexibility to adjust payrolls as conditions change. Now, with the American economy flashing code red, companies from Wall Street to Silicon Valley are casting off temporary workers and freelancers left and right, typically without any severance pay.

While the ability to shed contingent workers helps protect corporate profits, economists say it’s a net negative for the economy. That’s because while companies may save on labor costs, they aren’t likely to use those savings to boost investment with the economy so weak, preferring instead to rebuild their balance sheets.

Meanwhile, the people who lose their jobs will be forced to cut spending drastically, particularly because many of them earn below-average pay and thus have little savings to fall back on. The overall result is a decrease in demand, further depressing the economy. Says Dimitri B. Papadimitriou, president of the Levy Economics Institute of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, N.Y.: “Clearly there is a macroeconomic impact. It begs the question of what our social safety net is all about.”

Falling through the cracks

Consider Lauren Bender, a 47-year-old Manhattan resident who for the past eight years has worked on and off developing investment tools for Charles Schwab. That work supplied about 90 percent of Bender’s income, which she says kept her “very well compensated.” But starting last summer, Schwab pulled the plug on the three projects she was planning to complete, and her income from the brokerage firm has dried up.

Bender is looking for other work so she can meet her monthly mortgage payments of about $3,400 for an apartment she bought two years ago. As a self-employed contractor, Bender is not eligible for unemployment. “It’s scary,” she says. “I’m at risk of falling right through the cracks.” Schwab confirms that it has cut contract workers as part of a broader drive to lower operating expenses by 7 percent to 8 percent this year.

Estimates vary widely on just how big this shadow segment of the U.S. workforce is at this point. The Government Accountability Office, which uses a broad definition for contingent workers, thinks the figure is about 31 percent of the labor force, although other estimates come in far lower than that, depending on how the term is defined. What’s indisputable is that amid the current brutal economic environment, many companies are pulling out the hatchet.

Back in January, heavy equipment maker Caterpillar said it had cut 8,000 contract and agency workers since late 2008. That figure represented 40 percent of a total staff reduction of 20,000. “It has been part of our long-term strategy to have a flexible workforce by design,” says Caterpillar spokesman Jim Dugan. “It has better helped us manage our overall employment levels.” In late April the company is expected to disclose additional layoffs involving contractors.

Unreliable figures

The same trend is under way in Japan and France, both home to stringent anti-layoff laws. French carmaker Renault, for instance, in December said it would let go of some 1,800 contractors at a design center outside Paris.

Here in the U.S., the cutbacks of temporary workers mean the labor market is in much worse shape than the headline 8.5 percent jobless figure for March would suggest. Throw in part-timers who would like to work more and unemployed workers who have given up their job search, and you come up with a jobless rate closer to 15.6 percent, according to one measure buried in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ monthly Employment Situation report.

“The numbers are astounding,” says Beth Shulman, an analyst with the Russell Sage Foundation, a New York-based social science research group. “These workers, often at the lower end of the pay scale, are losing hours, income, and benefits. That only worsens the recession.”

In some instances, those temporary workers lucky enough to keep their positions are suffering pay cuts. In January, software giant Microsoft announced layoffs of 5,000 staff members and some contractors who work for employment agencies on its projects. Then by early March many remaining contractors learned they would receive a 10 percent pay cut. Lou Gellos, a spokesman for Microsoft, says the cuts in agency rates are part of “healthy belt-tightening to weather the [economic] storm and come out on the other side.”

Marcarthur Baralla, a Brooklyn videographer, hopes to survive, too. He had been making about $3,000 per month filming corporate conferences for New York-based Wall Street Webcasting. In mid-December the company told him it could no longer use his services. Baralla is now waiting tables. “I’m finding some video work, but clients don’t want to pay as much - or not at all in some cases,” says Baralla. Such is the plight of a contingent worker in this Great Recession.



Darden Restaurants Tests Hiring Of More Part-Time Employees To Avoid Obamacare Costs

By Candice Choi and Ricardo Alonso-Zaldivar
Huffington Post
October 9, 2012

The owner of Olive Garden and Red Lobster restaurants is putting more workers on part-time status in a TEST aimed at limiting costs from President Barack Obama’s health care law.

Darden Restaurants Inc. declined to give details but said the test is only in four markets across the country. The move entails boosting the number of workers on part-time status, meaning they work less than 30 hours a week.

Under the new health care law, companies with 50 or more workers could be hit with fines if they do not provide basic coverage for full-time workers and their dependents. Starting Jan. 1, 2014, those penalties and requirements could significantly boost labor costs for some companies, particularly in low-wage industries such as retail and hospitality, where most jobs don’t come with health benefits.

Darden, which operates more than 2,000 restaurants in the U.S. and Canada, employs about 180,000 people. The company says about 75 percent of its employees are currently part-timers.

Bob McAdam, who heads government affairs and community relations for Darden, said the company is still learning from the tests, which was first reported by the Orlando Sentinel.

“We’re not at a point where we have results,” he said. McAdam also noted that Darden is not alone in looking at ways to keep labor costs in check, with companies across the industry prepping for the new regulations to take effect.

In fact, Paul Keckley, executive director of the Deloitte Center for Health Statistics, noted that follow-up legislation might be needed to ensure that companies do not shift more workers to part-time status to avoid providing coverage.

“There’s not a company in those industries that aren’t looking at this,” Keckley said.

This summer, for example, McDonald’s Corp. Chief Financial Officer Peter Bensen noted in a conference call with investors that the hamburger chain was looking at the many factors that will impact health care costs, including its number of full-time employees.

Nationally, 60 percent of companies offer health benefits, but the figure varies depending on the size of the company. Nearly all companies with 200 or more workers offer benefits, compared with 48 percent for companies with 3-9 workers, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

Even beyond health care costs, however, Darden has made cutting labor costs a priority in recent years as sales growth has stalled at its flagship chains. In the most recent fiscal quarter, the company’s restaurant labor costs were 31 percent of sales. That’s down from 33 percent three years ago.

The reduction was driven by several factors. Given the challenging job market, Darden has been able to offer lower pay rates to new hires, as well as cut bonuses for general managers as sales have stagnated. Servers at Red Lobster now handle four tables at a time, instead of three.

And last year, the company also put workers on a “tip sharing” program, meaning waiters and waitresses share their tips with other employees such as busboys and bartenders. That allows Darden to pay more workers a far lower “tip credit wage” of $2.13, rather than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.

Starting next year, the company will change the way it offers health insurance to full-time employees, to keep costs more predictable. Instead of offering one insurance plan for all 45,000 employees, it will give workers a contribution toward buying coverage and then send them to an online health insurance exchange where they can chose from five medical, four dental and three vision plans.

More employers are looking at this concept, known as defined contribution health insurance, as a way to stabilize health insurance costs.

Darden said it decided to do it because a survey indicated that employees wanted more options.



ObamaCare redefines full time job as 30 hours a week!

By Chuck Norton
Political Arena
October 24, 2012

That will fix that pesky unemployment number!

This is pathetic.


A little-known section in the Obamacare health reform law defines “full-time” work as averaging only 30 hours per week, a definition that will affect some employers who utilize part-time workers to trim the cost of complying with the Obamacare rule that says businesses with 50 or more workers must provide health insurance or pay a fine.

The term full-time employee means, with respect to any month, an employee who is employed on average at least 30 hours of service per week, section 1513 of THE LAW reads.  (Scroll down to section 4, paragraph A.)

That section, known as the employer mandate, requires any business with 50 or more full-time employees to provide at least the minimum level of government-defined health coverage to those employees.

In other words, a business must provide insurance if it has 50 or more employees working an average of just 30 hours per week, which is 10 hours per week fewer than the traditional 40-hour work week.

If an employer has 50 or more full-time employees and does not offer health insurance, it must pay a penalty per employee for each month it does not offer coverage.

The obscure provision recently reemerged in REGULATIONS IUSSUED BY THE IRS for how employers must account for which workers are full-time and which ones are not.

Under these standards, published in September, employers can choose a look-back period of between 3 and 12 months to measure if an employee has worked an average of 30 hours per week.

If an employee has worked 30 hours per week during this time, the person would count as a full-time employee for at least the next six months, regardless of how much they work, thus preventing employers from cutting hours to avoid the mandate.

In other words, an employer calculates the hours an employee works during at least a three-month period, determining if they employee has worked 30 hours or more per week on average.

If the employee meets the 30-hour threshold, they are counted as full-time for at least six months. If the employer has at least 50 such employees, he must provide them with health insurance or pay a fine.

The IRS regulations do not apply to seasonal or temporary workers, only to regular employees.



Disposable Workers: Why Throwaway Employees are Bad Policy

Naked Capitalism
February 18, 2013

The media increasingly appears to define the state of the economy based on corporate bottom lines and the experience of the upper echelon, reflected in the way it glosses over the anxiety and distress outside the top 1% of the population. The fact that this disconnect isnt a figment of our imagination was confirmed by a recent study by Edmund Saez that reported that 121% OF THE INCOME GAINS FROM 2003 to 2011 went to the top 1%, meaning they pulled further ahead while everyone else (in aggregate) became worse off. The big cause is the state of the labor market. And that isn’t just a product of the global crisis but also of a long-term restructuring of the RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES.

One of the pet ideas of neoliberalism is to encourage labor market flexibility which is code for letting companies fire employees on a whim. The problem is that a quick to hire, quick to fire posture is not a terribly sound idea. It takes a lot of time and effort to HIRE AND TRAIN PEOPLE (yes, Virginia, even a skilled employee needs to learn the quirks of how his employer likes things done), so firing people casually means a loss of this investment. Export powerhouse Germany has not been competitively impaired by ITS RESTRICTIONS ON TERMINATING EMPLOYEES. But while some businesses actually believe the HR trope that employees are our most important asset, most, to adopt an image from ROBERT OAK AT THE ECONOMIC POPULIST, treat them as disposables.

McKinsey took note of this development in the early 2000s, when a study they commissioned from Yankelovich determined that new college graduates could expect to have 11 jobs by the age of 38. HOW CAN YOU PLAN any spending, much the less sensibly commit to buying a house or raising a family, with that much income uncertainty? Multiply that across most of the economy and no wonder this expansion is so sluggish.

A recent report by Mark Szeltner, Carl Van Horn, and Cliff Zukin of the Heldrich Center at Rutgers, DIMINISHED LIVES AND FUTURES: A Portrait of America in the Great-Recession Era, shows how far this trend has gone in the downturn.


The media reports tended to play up this chart, which gives a sense of how pervasive job loss is, without hammering on the data: 23% of the respondents in their survey had lost a job. Of 18 to 34 year olds, it was 28%. And that;s before you consider the high level of unemployment among college graduates, as in how many have trouble getting hired after they graduate. And remember, traditionally, new graduates are seen as prime targets for hiring, since they are comparatively cheap and high energy. But they are apparently no longer such a great bargain now that everyone is scrambling for work. In addition, 20% of the survey respondents who did have a job were working part time, and the survey did not ascertain how many of them were underemployed.

As unemployment statistics suggest, it is also hard to get a job once you’ve lost one. Of those who were terminated, only 35% found new work in six months. 22% said they could not get hired.

And even the ones who did find employment typically had to settle for less to get a paycheck again. The chart below shows that almost half described their current job as a step down from the one they held before their recession-related layoff. And even more took a reduction in pay.


The one-two punch of no income while looking for a job and (in the overwhelming majority of cases) landing a worse to more or less the same status/pay level of employment has serious financial consequences


Look at that chart closely. People are draining their retirement accounts, neglecting medical care, and relying on food stamps to get by. Yet we read much more about how the economy (read the bottom lines of public companies) is getting better, while the desperate state of the un and underemployed shows up in anecdotes decorating the occasional story on those topics alone, and is underplayed when the media ventures out to see how the remnants of the middle class are doing.

Significant majorities expected that it would either take a long time for a return to normalcy or that the old way would never come back on a host of issues: college affordability, seniors not needing to work to supplement income, employees feeling secure in their jobs, lower unemployment, ability to find work commensurate with ones skill levels.

While this report has gotten media coverage, most mainstream sources have tended to focus on one aspect, perhaps because the totality is too much of a downer. I strongly encourage you read the ENTIRE REPORT [local copy], since it will provides some badly-needed insight into conditions on the unemployment line.


Posted by Elvis on 02/18/13 •
Section Dealing with Layoff • Section Telecom Underclass • Section Dying America
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