Economic News 1999 September

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updated: 2018-03-30
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1999 September




M. Corey Goldman _CNN_/_Money_
Jobs take August break (unemployment rate graph)
"Some 124K new jobs were added to the economy in August, the Labor Department said Friday, significantly fewer than the 220K economists had anticipated.   Wages rose just 2 cents an hour to $13.30, well below the 5 cents forecast, while the jobless rate slipped to a generation low of 4.2%...   OTOH, companies are laying off employees.   U.S. companies' intentions to reduce their work forces rose by almost 8% in July compared with a year earlier, according to a monthly report released by Chicago-based employment firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas..."

Camille Luckenbaugh & Mimi Collins _NACE_
Starting Salaries for New Grads
Computer Science$44,649
Computer Engineering$44,649
EE Engineering$45,180
Chemical Engineering$46,929
Mechanical Engineering$43,275
Civil Engineering$36,076




Americans work longest hours among industrialized countries, Japanese second longest: Europeans work less Time, but register faster productivity gains
alternate link
alternate link with graph
see also Key Indicators of Labor Markets
"the US pattern of increasing annual hours worked per person (which totalled 1,966 in 1997 versus 1,883 in 1980, an increase of nearly 4% - see Tables) runs contrary to a world-wide trend in industrialized countries that has seen hours at work remaining steady or declining in recent years.   The long working hours of US and Japanese workers (whose 1995 total was 1,889 annual hours worked versus 2,121 in 1980, a decline of more than 10%) contrasts most sharply with those of European workers, who are logging progressively fewer hours on the job, particularly in the Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Sweden where hours worked in 1997 were, respectively 1,399 and 1,552 per year.   In France, which recently introduced legislation limiting the work week to 35 hours, men and women workers put in 1,656 hours in 1997 versus 1,810 in the 1980s.   In Germany (Western), the annual total of working hours was just under 1,560 in 1996 versus 1,610 in 1990 and 1,742 in 1980."



1999-09-08 09:20PDT (12:20EDT) (16:20GMT)
Lay-offs head high
"After 57,253 job cuts in August, the out-placement specialist firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas Inc. said Americans employers have announced 495,510 job cuts in 1999, 38% higher than the 8-month total in 1998, the biggest down-sizing year of the decade.   The August figure was 5% higher than July's total of 54,709 and last month was 54% higher than 1998 August, making it the 17th consecutive month that job cuts were ahead of the same month in the previous year."

_San Diego Daily Transcript_
August Job Cut Announcements Were Up 5%


1999-09-09 08:15PDT (11:15EDT) (15:15GMT)
James Freeman _USA Today_
"You have zero privacy...   Get over it."
"Do you own the story of your life?   Is information about you part of your personal property?   [Of course!]   Scott McNealy, CEO of Sun Microsystems, expressed his view in a January response to a question about on-line privacy.   Said McNealy, 'You have zero privacy anyway.   Get over it.'"








Catherine K. Ruckelshaus _National Employment Law Project_
Contingent Workers and Coverage Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA)
Dunlop Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations
"The U.S. Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations (the Dunlop Commission) concluded in its final report that, '[C]ontingent [work] arrangements may be introduced simply to reduce the amount of compensation paid by the firm for the same amount and value of work, which raises serious social questions.   This is particularly true because contingent workers are drawn disproportionately from the most vulnerable sectors of the work-force...   The expansion of contingent work has contributed to the increasing gap between high and low wage workers and to the increasing sense of insecurity among workers...'   Thus, contingent workers are not getting paid minimum wage and overtime in many instances, because of their employers' ability to avoid liability and responsibility for their workers by passing responsibility on to the smaller, less capitalized nominal entities designated the workers' (sole) employer [or shifting the burden onto the individual employees]."




James E. Challenger _Florida Sun-Times_
Body Shopping Increasing
"As the number of part-time, contingent and out-sourced employees grows, companies are cutting full-time employees deemed too costly to keep...   The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the number of out-sourced temporary workers increased 580% between 1982 and 1998, going from 417K to 2,824,000.   Independent contractors have become so prevalent in the work force that in 1995, BLS conducted the first survey of 'alternative work arrangements'.   The biennial survey estimates that in 1997, 8.5M workers in the United States considered themselves independent contractors.   With so many options available for hiring far less costly just-in-time workers, the complacent full-time employee clearly is an endangered species."





Lamar Smith _San Diego Union Tribune_ pg B13
Does US need more foreign workers?
"Also, the legislation mandated that the National Science Foundation (NSF) submit 2 reports to Congress by 2000 October 1.   One study will examine the labor market's need for workers with high-technology skills over the next 10 years.   The other study evaluates the status of older information-technology workers and the extent of age discrimination faced by these workers...   The visa program is susceptible to massive fraud by 'front companies' set up for the sole purpose of applying for visas and by companies submitting bogus job experience letters and educational diplomas for applicants.   When the INS and the State Department undertook a review of more than 3K visa petitions at the US Consulate at Chennai, India, they were unable to verify about 45% of the petitions, and 21% were found to be outright fraudulent.   India accounts for almost half of all high-tech foreign workers.   --A labor shortage should be accompanied by sharp increases in wages.   But The Washington Post reported recently, 'For the second year in a row, the rise in high tech-company salaries has held at a modest cost-of-living rate.'...   A recent study by Professor Laura Langbein of American University has found that the average length of time it takes an unemployed engineer to find a new job increases by 3 weeks for each additional year of age.   There is also a 17% unemployment rate for computer programmers over age 50...   Lay-offs by high-tech companies continue.   In the past year, Hewlett Packard has laid off 3,200 workers, Motorola has laid off 2,124, Lucent Technologies has laid off 1,700, and Intel has laid off 875."


Kathleen Finigan _Albany NY Business Review_
Employee retention programs ensure competitiveness
"existing employees may be assigned additional tasks during the period after an employee leaves the company and before a qualified replacement begins.   There is a cost to productivity associated with replacing a worker.   Add in the time it takes for someone to train the newly hired employee and the cost of sourcing candidates, whether that is on the Internet, through networking or at job fairs...   Deloitte & Touche Human Resources Strategies Group and the Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University.   4 out of 5 companies reported that finding and retaining qualified employees was a major challenge, the survey said.   During 1998, the largest U.S. companies demonstrated a commitment to finding top-notch employees by spending an average of 18% of their human resources department budgets on recruitment, up 5% from the previous year.   By combining training and development with [recruiting] expenditures, the survey concluded that U.S. corporations spend 31% of their annual human resources budgets on [recruiting] and retention...   The supervisors said the reason the company was losing employees was because that it was not offering a competitive salary...   former employees offered other reasons, including a limited vacation policy; an inflexible work schedule; a non-competitive 401(k) match; an inflexible dress code; infrequent and unclear messages on corporate strategy from company officials; underutilized equipment; limited investment in employee training; and disrespectful attitudes of supervisors towards employees."




Peter Behr _Washington Post_
By the Numbers: Web Snares More Employment Ads; Proliferating On-Line Job Sites Challenge Long-Held Niche of Newspaper Industry




1999 September
Lisa Pohlman & Christopher St. John _Maine Center for Economic Policy_
Life After Lay-Off in Central Maine
"Between 1995 and 1999 there have been over 50 major lay-offs in Kennebec county alone, affecting more than 3,900 workers...   Negative impacts persisted for most of these workers well beyond the first few weeks, months or even years after their lay-off.   They were generally in their prime working years, but over one-third had not had a job since their lay-off.   At the time of the survey, 44% were unemployed, excluding those who were retired.   While a third of those not working were currently in a training or education program, another third said they could not find work.   Prior to lay-off, the survey respondents generally had better than average wages and benefits.   But the median wage in their current or most recent jobs had declined by $3.48 per hour from the median wage in the previous manufacturing plants.   The median household income for all respondents in the year prior to their lay-off was $40K.   In 1998 the median household income among respondents was $25K.   Almost half of the respondents' households in 1998 were living at or below 185% of the federal poverty line, which is considered in Maine to be the minimum liveable wage.   For those who found work, 1 out of 4 of their current or most recent jobs were part-time and almost one-third of all jobs were seasonal, temporary or day-to-day jobs.   The fact that 40% of those working had moved to the service and retail sectors explains this trend in declining wages and benefits and increased contingent work...   Sixty percent (60%) of the workers had completed high school, while 10% had not.   Almost half took part in some kind of training after their lay-off, most funded through federal Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), with income support while in training through the federal Trade Readjustment Allowance (TRA)."

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