Collapsing Jobs on Labor Day 2002 

> ------------------------- By LEIGH STROPE
> .c The Associated Press 

> WASHINGTON (Aug. 31) - Many Americans this Labor Day are just thankful to
>have a job.

> The nation's unemployment rate is hovering near a seven-year high, and new
>jobs are not being created as the bleak economy teeters on the cusp of
>recovery and recession.

> ``To working families, it looks a heck of a lot like a recession,'' said
>Jared Bernstein, an economist at the union-supported Economic Policy
>Institute in Washington and an author of ``The State of Working America

> The list of large employers seeking bankruptcy protection is formidable:
>Kmart, Polaroid, Enron, WorldCom, US Airways and more. Companies recently
>announcing layoffs include American Airlines, Charles Schwab, Williams
>Cos., Coca-Cola and Nokia.

> For Kathy Angiolillo of Woodbridge, Va., the economy couldn't get any
>worse. She was laid off from her lobbying job at a nonprofit organization
>July 3 and has a 4-year-old son to support. Unable to find another
>full-time position, she has been working as a receptionist or office
>assistant whenever a temporary firm calls.

> ``I don't care how much they pay, just give me a job,'' she said. ``If
>they called me to walk dogs I would do it.''

> Angiolillo has sent out dozens of resumes, often without receiving any
>response. Employers that initially show interest end up turning her down
>because they think she is overqualified, will demand too much money or
>won't stay long.

> ``I miss the '90s,'' Angiolillo said.

> So do a lot of people. The recent string of corporate scandals and a
>volatile stock market have made that time of freewheeling prosperity a
>distant memory to many workers now jittery about the future of their jobs
>and careers.

> The unemployment rate, now at 5.9 percent, dropped to a 30-year low of 3.9
>percent in 2000 as the country enjoyed the longest stretch of prosperity on
>record. Jobs were relatively easy to find, and many employers had to
>compete for workers by boosting salaries and upgrading benefits.

> Between 1995 and 2000 the average income of black and Hispanic families
>grew by 17 percent and 27 percent respectively. For white families, it grew
>by 11 percent. The median family income was $52,321 in 2000, compared with
>$46,857 in 1995.

> ``The tight labor markets of the late 1990s brought the first persistent,
>broad-based prosperity in decades,'' said Lawrence Mishel, EPI president
>and an author of the ``Working America'' analysis of Labor Department data.

> But the pay of corporate executives grew even faster during that time. A
>chief executive last year was paid in one day what an average worker earned
>in almost a year, according to EPI figures.

> As wages grew during the boom, so did the hours at work, and America
>remains a workaholic nation. The average worker logged 1,877 hours in 2000
>- more than any other rich, industrialized country, EPI said. The average
>middle-income, two-parent family works 660 more hours per year - 16 1/2
>more weeks - than in 1979.

> ``But now with the boom gone bust, American workers are heading back to an
>economy marred by slow wage growth and no job growth, with wage and income
>disparities widening once again,'' Mishel said.

> Employers are under less pressure to keep improving wages and benefits to
>attract workers. Hourly wages are growing faster than inflation, but the
>acceleration has slowed to the lowest since the beginning of 1995. Even a
>college degree doesn't provide the recession protection it used to. That
>group has seen a 1.4 percent rise in unemployment, larger than in previous

> ``If we are in an economic recovery, it's a jobless recovery at present,''
>said Carl Camden, president and chief operating officer of Kelly Services,
>the temporary employment firm. ``Our two prime concerns about this recovery
>are its fragility and the lack of strong demand for staffing services.''

> Employment demand in health care and financial services has improved,
>however, he said. But economists don't expect hiring spurts until the
>economy shows more life, and the unemployment rate could continue to rise
>to as high as 6.5 percent by fall.

>& Co. ``Many young people are going to graduate school, and people are
>retiring early.''

> Times may be rough right now, but analysts expect the job market
>eventually to improve. A shift is likely in the mix of available jobs and
>required skills.

> About 23 million new jobs are expected in the next 10 years, the
>business-supported Employment Policy Foundation estimates. Management and
>related occupations will account for about 29 percent of the gains.
>Professional jobs will increase by 7.5 million, including 2.5 million new
>jobs in mathematics and computer science and 2.1 million new jobs in

> ``Other occupations, such as machine operators, precision production
>crafts and secretaries and clerks will most likely see a decrease,'' said
>Ed Potter, the foundation's president.

> 08/31/02 16:27 EDT

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