Laid-Off Workers Who Find Jobs Take Deep Pay Cuts

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laid off workers who find new jobs take pay cuts

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. economic recovery hasn't felt much like one even for people who managed to find new jobs after being laid off. Most of them have had to settle for less pay.

Only 56 percent of Americans laid off from January 2009 through December 2011 had found jobs by the start of this year, the Labor Department said Friday. More than half of them took jobs with lower pay. One-third took pay cuts of 20 percent or more.The figures would be even lower if people who could find only part-time jobs were included in the total.

The report provides an illustration of the job market's persistent weakness well after the Great Recession officially ended in June 2009. It also documents that while the economy has added nearly 3 million jobs since the recovery began, many pay less than those that were lost.

And it points to the challenge for President Barack Obama, who's seeking re-election with unemployment at 8.3 percent. No president since World War II has faced re-election with unemployment above 8 percent. It was 7.8 percent when Gerald Ford lost to Jimmy Carter in 1976.

Laid-off workers always have a harder time finding new jobs than do people who quit. But since the government began tracking such data in 1984, people who lost jobs in a recovery haven't had it as hard as they did in the one that began three years ago.

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Laid-Off Workers Who Find Jobs Take Deep Pay Cuts
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SuperMedia provides Internet-based, print and direct mail marketing solutions to businesses in a variety of industries. The company generally serves small to medium sized businesses and organizations. The company, which has about 3,400 employees, publishes Yellow Pages telephone books on behalf of major phone-service carriers across the country.


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Unisys Corp. provides information technology services, software and technology. It serves commercial organizations and government agencies around the world, and offers outsourcing services, system integration services, maintenance, server technology and infrastructure services. The Blue Bell, Pa.-based company employs about 23,000 workers.


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A subsidiary of General Electric Co., GE Capital offers loans and other assistance to small and midsize businesses worldwide, and has banks worldwide. It employs more than 50,000 people and has operations in 55 countries.


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A former radio company, Rockwell Collins today provides aviation and information technology products to governmental agencies and aircraft manufacturers. Based in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, the company employs about 20,000 workers.


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Ernst & Young is one of the largest financial-services companies in the world, employing more than 144,000 employees worldwide. It is the ninth largest private company in the nation, according to Forbes. Its primary services include auditing, taxes, financial advisory and consultancy.


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DynCorp International is a military-staffing company based in Falls Church, Va., with additional offices in Fort Worth, Texas. The privately held company employs abut 16,800 workers, the vast majority of whom work overseas.


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Applied Materials Inc. is one largest manufacturers of computer chips. The company designs, manufactures and sells chips that power a number of electronic products including flat panel displays used in computer and television screens, and solar photovoltaic cells and modules. Its workforce numbers about 14,500.


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Coca-Cola Co. has been in business for 125 years. Started in Atlanta, the consumer-goods company now manufactures, distributes and markets non-alcoholic beverages along with fountain syrups and concentrates, such as flavoring ingredients and sweeteners. The company employs about 93,000 workers.


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And the pay cuts in their new jobs usually aren't so deep.

For example, in 2003-2005, a period that included a slow recovery, nearly 70 percent of those who were laid off found jobs. More than half who found full-time work in that time did so at equal or higher pay.

The government compiles data on laid-off workers every two years. The report covers only people who had worked at least three years in the same job before being laid off. In doing so, it focuses on those who had stable careers before they lost work.

They are people like Andrew McMenemy, who used to make $80,000 a year as a computer systems administrator at a software firm. He was among the 80 percent of the firm laid off in March 2010.

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Now he makes $9.15 an hour providing tech support for Apple. The job offers no benefits. He works from home in East Stroudsburg, Pa., where he lives with his father.

"I'm going to be 53; I have to live at home with my father," McMenemy said. "I made more when I worked in high school."

About 6.1 million people with at least three years on the job were laid off in the three years ending in 2011, the government's report said. That's down from 6.9 million in the previous report, which covered the 2007-2009 period. But it's still the second-highest total since 1984.

Though the proportion of laid-off workers finding jobs has improved since the 2007-2009 period, "by no means are they back to a normal level for a recovery," said Henry Farber, an economics professor at Princeton University.

Compared with most other recoveries, "this is really bad," said Dean Baker, an economist and co-director of the Center for Economic Policy Research, a liberal think tank.

Baker noted that only 15 percent of those laid off in 2009 through 2011 have found new jobs with equal or higher pay. That compares with 25 percent in the three years before the recession.

"You were much more likely to be re-employed in 2007 at the same or higher wage than now," he said.

Weakest Recovery Since The Depression

An Associated Press analysis this month documented that by just about every measure, this economic recovery is the feeblest since the Great Depression. The weakness goes well beyond high unemployment.

Economic growth has never been weaker in a postwar recovery. Consumer spending has never been so slack. And even for people who have jobs, paychecks have fallen behind inflation.

The Labor Department report Friday showed that men were more likely than women to regain jobs after a layoff. Male-dominated fields, such as manufacturing and mining, have experienced some of the strongest job gains. By contrast, hiring has been below average in some occupations with mostly female workers, such as office and administrative support.

That would come as no surprise to Kim Pinto, who lost her job in November 2009 as an executive assistant and office manager at a commercial interior design firm. Pinto, 50, who lives in Plymouth, Mass., was unemployed for nearly two years before landing a job as a sales person at a furniture store in July 2011.

Her new job pays roughly half the $52,000 she earned at her former job. The new one offers health insurance. But she can't afford the premium.

Pinto considered the sales job a "life raft" until she could find something better. She's still looking, and the competition is fierce. She applied for an administrative position at a local police station. There were 186 applicants, she was told.

"I've always worked a full-time job with benefits," Pinto said. "It's almost like that's a thing of the past. It really erodes your self-esteem."



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