Wednesday, March 29, 2006

The consequences of the layoff

A new book by Louis Uchitelle appears to confirm what most of us have known for a long time: Coprorate layoffs -- or downsizing, to be more business-friendly -- have wide-reaching consequences. There is the effect on the worker, no small thing, but there are other effects, as well.

Here is a paraphrase of some of Uchitelle's arguments, from a review in today's Times:

The layoff, Mr. Uchitelle argues, has transformed the nation. At least 30
million full-time American employees have gotten pink slips since the Labor
Department belatedly started to count them in 1984. But add in the early
retirees, the "quits" who saw the layoffs coming, and the number is much higher
— a whole ghost nation trekking into what for most will be lower-wage work. This
is the Dust Bowl in our Golden Bowl, and to Mr. Uchitelle, layoffs in one way
are worse than the unemployment of the 1930's. At least then, most of the
jobless came back to better-paid, more secure jobs. Those laid off in our time
almost never will.

And so, we humbly move forward with Voices of Reason in the hopes that some of the distress this corporate behavior creates on the economy and on those being pushed to the margins.

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Poet, journalist, blogger, political columnist, professor of journalism and writing. I live with my wife, Annie, and my dogs in Central Jersey.