Economic News 1999 December

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updated: 2018-03-30
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1999 December








Lay-Offs Rose in November
Harper College
"Job cuts at US companies surged 123% in November after falling to a 25-month low in October, putting 1999 on track for a record year of job reduction, a private report released Tuesday showed...   In all, U.S. companies announced 50,907 lay-offs in November, a 123% increase over the previous month.   From a year earlier, the numbers are more in line -- just 1% below the 50,642 announced in 1998 November.   Year to date, some 630,450 job cuts have been announced, about 7% behind the 677,795 announced in 1998.   For December, some of the job cuts will come from companies involved in mergers, Challenger predicts, though so far only one in 9 job cuts this year have been a result of mergers or acquisitions.   Last December, Challenger reported over 100K job cuts, well above the firm's own expectations...   Year-to-date, retailers and computer makers lead the industries with the biggest increase in job cuts from 1998..."


NSF data shows massive glut of IT expertise
"more than 12M people trained as or employed as scientists and engineers (S&Es) in the U.S.A. in 1995...   The non-working percentage as determined by age ranges from a low of about 6.5% in the 45 to 49 year old age bracket to over 83% of S&Es over 75 years of age.   NSF figures also claim a total of 10.6% of bachelors-level S&Es are 'involuntarily out of field' [IOOF]...   only about one-quarter of the survey group are employed in S&E fields.   A majority, 57.57%, are working, but not in science or engineering fields.   That means almost 7M talented American men and women are not seeing economic benefits from their sacrifices required to earn a science or engineering degree.   [American minds are being wasted.]"





Rob Kaiser _Bergen NJ Record_
Visa "Shortage" Boots Business Over-Seas Allege Tech Executive Lobbyists
"The battle last year was about visas to bring more foreign technical specialists into the United States.   Next year, the fight may well be about companies shifting those jobs over-seas."


David Horowitz _Front Page Magazine_
letter to the past







Alexander Nguyen _The American Prospect_
High-Tech Migrant Labor
"Meanwhile, abundant anecdotal evidence indicates that some American technology workers, especially older ones, have a hard time finding steady work in their fields...   Gene Nelson, 47, found it just as difficult in Dallas.   Nelson worked on cutting-edge pen-based computing, which is used in 'Palm Pilot' technology.   Nelson says high-tech firms have given him the cold shoulder even though he has enrolled in retraining programs to keep his skills up to date.   For a while, he answered phones for MSFT from inside a 6-by-6-foot cubicle.   But the job didn't last...   The H-1B program depresses industry's incentive to retrain and hire workers like Nelson.   America's technology sector understands that generally tight labor markets make it difficult to keep labor costs down, and the industry likes to be choosy...   Critics say guest-worker programs amount to a back-door immigration policy.   'They want to promote the influx of people from over-seas but deny them the respect that a republic ought to accord to them.', said Mark Krikorian, director of the Center for Immigration Studies, on National Public Radio in 1998.   It's as if a method has been found to separate human capital from the humans who provide it.   The labor of guest workers is imported, but their potential citizenship is not acknowledged as part of the deal...   Reports of underpaid workers are not uncommon.   'Dear Career Adviser', wrote an anonymous software consultant to an advice column in Computerworld in April.   'My employer is under-paying me, because my pay is much lower than the figure he quoted on my H-1B application.   What should I do about this?'   The reply: 'If you report your employer, you could be fired.   And without a job, your H-1B visa becomes null and void.'"













1999 December
Anne M. Covey, Jonathan Sunshine & Howard P. Forman _American Journal of Roentgenology_
The Job Market in Diagnostic Radiology: Updated Findings from a Help Wanted Index (graphs)

1999 Fall
Franklin D. Latin _Illinois Labor Market Review_
High-Tech Skill Shortage or Low-Cost Labor Policy?: Are skill shortages so severe in America that we must import labor from abroad?
"there are numerous experienced professionals who are overlooked in favor of younger college graduates.   Gene Nelson, a 47 year old IT professional with a doctorate in biophysics, testified before Congress that he is constantly told that he is overqualified.   Nelson believes employers simply find it easier to hire young employees who are willing to work long hours without adequate compensation or to use H1-B workers rather than train older workers.   An AFL-CIO official who also testified before Congress noted that the unemployment rate for engineers over 40 years old is 5 times higher than for their younger counterparts.   Another opponent of the H-1B program stated, 'If there were really a major shortage of IT professionals we would expect wage rates to soar, companies to offer on-the-job training programs, and very little unemployment among software engineers.   Instead we find very modest growth in wages for programmers and other IT professionals, virtually no company-sponsored training and extraordinarily high unemployment among specialists over 40.'"

1999 Fall
Craig Willse _MakeZine_
Contingently Yours
"Contingent labor, sometimes euphemistically called 'non-traditional' labor, has become a standard way of life for millions of Americans.   Contingent employees include temps, industrial day laborers, and contract employees.   In the past, contingent workers have tended to do administrative support in office settings, construction jobs, health care in nursing homes, and child care.   However, since the economic recession of the 1970s, American corporations have aggressively 'down-sized' their staffs of regular, full-time employees, and have increasingly relied on contingent labor.   This means that many jobs that were formerly performed by full-time employees are now being filled by contingent laborers, either through temporary help agencies or contract systems.   Unlike regular employees, contingent workers usually receive no health care, no benefits, no paid vacations or sick leave, no chances for promotion, and no job security...   while companies benefit from contingent arrangements, employees largely suffer.   A Department of Labor study found that 59% of temps would prefer a traditional, permanent arrangement...   Finally, 'perma-temps' who work for years at big companies as contingent employees commonly find that their requests to be hired into regular, full-time positions are systematically denied."

1999 Fall
Susan N. Houseman _W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research_
Policy Implications of Non-Standard Work Arrangements
Flexible Staffing Arrangements
"From 1982 to 1998, the share of non-farm pay-roll employment in help supply services increased from 0.5% to 2.3%.   The overall share of the work-force in part-time jobs increased only slightly in the 1980s and has been stagnant in the 1990s...   indirect evidence suggests that the share in these arrangements is growing.   Some researchers have cited the rapid growth in business services as evidence, on the grounds that many contract company workers are classified in this sector.   Moreover, several employer surveys provide qualitative evidence that other types of nonstandard work arrangements have grown significantly in recent years (Abraham 1990; The Conference Board 1995; Abraham and Taylor 1996; Houseman 1997)...   A lack of benefits is a problem for workers in all nonstandard arrangements.   These workers are much less likely than regular full-time workers to have health insurance or a retirement plan through their employer or from any other source even after controlling for worker and job characteristics.   In fact, evidence from employer surveys suggests that savings on benefit costs is often one reason employers use non-standard work arrangements."

1999 Fall
Edwin S. Rubenstein _American Outlook_/_Programmers Guild_
Piled Higher and Deeper: The alleged shortage of highly educated workers in the U.S. is a myth. In fact, we're suffering from a chronic surplus of Ph.D.s

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