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Vocapedia > Economy > Jobs


labor market,

hiring, job creation, employment,

workers' conditions / rights





Dwayne Booth, Mr. Fish

Comment cartoon


9 February 2009
















employment        UK
























































































































































































full employment        USA




profiles-of-america-in-full-employment - 2019











employment tribunal        UK










occupation        USA










position        USA












jobs        USA











































work two jobs        USA











middle-class jobs        USA        2015


The types of jobs

that pay middle-class wages

— between $40,000

and $80,000 in 2014 dollars —

have shifted since 1980.


Fewer of these positions

are in male-dominated

production occupations,

while a greater share

are in workplaces

more open to women.






odd jobs        USA








advertise for a job






apply for a job        UK






Find a job / Upload your CV





find a job        UK






get a job        USA






get steady work        USA






dream job        UK






dream job        USA






gigs        USA






professions        UK






career ladder        UK
























labor market        USA












Labor day        USA


Labor Day in the United States

is a public holiday celebrated

on the first Monday in September.










Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938        USA










Labor Department        USA



























underemployment        USA

















application        UK






résumé        USA




























Illustration by Andrzej Krauze


 This is a brutal and inhumane way to treat staff

– and Sports Direct is not alone


Wednesday 8 June 2016    06.00 BST

Last modified on Wednesday 8 June 2016    08.11 BST
























full-time jobs










full-time employees
























































contract        USA










contract work        USA










contract workers        USA

















freelancers        USA










freelancing        USA










contractors        USA

















zero-hours contracts        UK





































be on a zero-hours contract        UK








insecure jobs        UK

















day laborer jobs        USA


















job market        UK



























job market        USA
















strong job market        USA










jobs data








jobs report    USA
































job growth        USA














disappointing job growth        USA










employment growth        USA










create jobs        USA










job creation        USA

















add / gain ... jobs        USA

































job training        USA






job center        USA






job figures        UK / USA










restructuring        USA






restructuring plan





job cuts        UK








job cuts





cut jobs        UK













jobless       USA








jobless rate        USA






cartoons > Cagle > the nation's jobless        USA        June 2012






jobless map        USA        September 2011






joblessness        USA






jobless ranks















jobseeker        USA






jobseeker        UK






job openings        USA






job fair        USA
















job discrimination        USA






job discrimination        UK






discrimination at work        UK






Equal Employment Opportunity Commission        USA

















working from home        UK












remote work        USA










remote work > Gender And Racial Harassment        USA

















boss        UK

















employer        UK










employer        USA

























rogue employer        UK

























Uber        UK










Uber        USA















Uber > Labor laws        USA










Uber > Uber drivers > employees or independent contractors        USA










Uber > sharing economy        USA










Uber > gig economy        USA

















opening        USA






apply for a job        USA






applicant        USA






interview        USA






resume        USA
























































hire        USA























be hired        USA










hire        USA










hiring        USA













































hiring bias        USA






















employee > privacy        USA






self-employed        UK






workplace surveillance        USA






workplace abuse > harass workers        USA






workplace violence        USA






sign noncompete agreements / clauses        USA























outsourcing > going abroad for cheap labor        USA






be offshored to Asia        USA






online job marketplaces        USA
















Work, life and balancing it all during coronavirus

A New Normal    G    22 July 2020





Work, life and balancing it all during coronavirus

Video    A New Normal    G    22 July 2020


There has been massive upheaval in the world of work

over the past four months with coronavirus lockdowns,

furlough schemes and redundancy.


What can we learn going forward?


In this episode of A New Normal,

Iman Amrani speaks to Guardian readers

about travelling less, dealing with childcare,

what working from home is really like,

and how they're feeling about a changed workplace.

































work        UK












work        USA












work part-time / full-time






work schedules        USA






shift        USA






work        UK






work        USA








work force / labor pool        USA






teamwork        USA






seasonal work        USA        2014
























telework        USA

















working day        UK











British workers' rights        UK






workers        USA










food workers        USA






freelance workers        USA






frelancing        USA






part-time workers        USA






full-time work        UK






temporary workers        UK / USA








fast-food workers        USA






tech workers        USA






older workers        USA






manpower company        USA






precariat        USA






part-time working






part-time work        USA






short-time working        2009






three-day week         UK









at work        USA










work accidents        UK










voluntary work        UK










volunteering        USA










worker        USA














illegal worker        USA












U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement        USA










working class        UK












working class        USA










class isues        UK










key worker








tag workers        UK










skilled employees








skilled labor        USA










overqualified        USA










unskilled jobs        USA










work life        USA










workforce / work force        USA












the American work force        USA










workplace        UK










in the workplace        USA










workplace harassment        USA










office        UK










meeting        UK


















buyout        USA



























office > co-working spaces        USA










open-plan office        UK

























casual labour        UK










labour market rules        UK










flexible labour markets        UK

















absenteeism        UK










sickie        UK

















moonlight / moonlight        USA










moonlighter        UK

















man / woman





women workers





working mother        USA






women doing 'men's work'        UK


truck driver, coxswain, surgeon, grip

train driver, mechanic, butcher






working mother        UK






breadwinner        UK






glass ceiling





women > executives        USA

















bullying at work        USA







bullying at work /

bullying in the workplace / workplace bullying















lunch break        UK






















manager        UK






human resources manager

























corporate killing        UK






corporate manslaughter / killing





on-the-job deaths        USA






death at work law        UK






corporate kleptocracy        UK






gross negligence





unfair dismissal





employment tribunal cas





employment tribunal cases
















The Guardian        2 June 2004















slavery        UK / USA

















slave        USA










child labour        UK









USA > child labor in the United States        UK / USA














Corpus of news articles


Economy > Jobs


Work, hiring, job creation,


workers' conditions




Slump Alters

Jobless Map in U.S.,

With South Hit Hard


September 26, 2011

The New York Times



When the unemployment rate rose in most states last month, it underscored the extent to which the deep recession, the anemic recovery and the lingering crisis of joblessness are beginning to reshape the nation’s economic map.

The once-booming South, which entered the recession with the lowest unemployment rate in the nation, is now struggling with some of the highest rates, recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics show.

Several Southern states — including South Carolina, whose 11.1 percent unemployment rate is the fourth highest in the nation — have higher unemployment rates than they did a year ago. Unemployment in the South is now higher than it is in the Northeast and the Midwest, which include Rust Belt states that were struggling even before the recession.

For decades, the nation’s economic landscape consisted of a prospering Sun Belt and a struggling Rust Belt. Since the recession hit, though, that is no longer the case. Unemployment remains high across much of the country — the national rate is 9.1 percent — but the regions have recovered at different speeds.

Now, with the concentration of the highest unemployment rates in the South and the West, some economists and researchers wonder if it is an anomaly of the uneven recovery or a harbinger of things to come.

“Because the recovery is so painfully slow, people may begin to think of the trends established during the recovery as normal,” said Howard Wial, a fellow at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program who recently co-wrote an economic analysis of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas. “Will people think of Florida, California, Nevada and Arizona as more or less permanently depressed? Think of the Great Lakes as being a renaissance region? I don’t know. It’s possible.”

The West has the highest unemployment in the nation. The collapse of the housing bubble left Nevada with the highest jobless rate, 13.4 percent, followed by California with 12.1 percent. Michigan has the third-highest rate, 11.2 percent, as a result of the longstanding woes of the American auto industry.

Now, though, of the states with the 10 highest unemployment rates, six are in the South. The region, which relied heavily on manufacturing and construction, was hit hard by the downturn.

Economists offer a variety of explanations for the South’s performance. “For a long time we tended to outpace the national average with regard to economic performance, and a lot of that was driven by, for lack of a better word, development and in-migration,” said Michael Chriszt, an assistant vice president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s research department. “That came to an abrupt halt, and it has not picked up.”

The long cycle of “lose jobs, gain jobs, lose jobs” that kept Georgia’s unemployment rate at 10.2 percent in August — the same as it was a year earlier — is illustrated by Union City, a small city on the outskirts of Atlanta.

It suffered a blow when the last store in its darkened mall, Sears, announced that it would soon close. But the city had other irons in the fire: a few big companies were hiring, and earlier this year Dendreon, a biotech company that makes a cancer drug, opened a plant there, lured in part by state and local subsidies.

Then, Dendreon announced this month that it would lay off more than 100 workers at the new plant as part of a national “restructuring.”

Union City, with a population of 20,000, now calls itself the place “Where Business Meets the World” and has been trying to lure companies by pointing out its low business taxes, various incentive programs and proximity to Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport.

Steve Rapson, the city manager, said that the challenge there, as in much of America, has been to get employers to hire again. “It’s hard to get your mind around what can you do as a city to encourage future jobs and jobs growth,” he said.

The reordering of the nation’s economic fortunes can be seen in the Brookings analysis, which found that many auto-producing metropolitan areas in the Great Lakes states are seeing modest gains in manufacturing that are helping them recover from their deep slump, while Sun Belt and Western states with sharp drops in home values are still suffering. The areas that have been hurt the least since the recession, the study said, rely on government, education or energy production. Places that were less buoyed by the housing bubble were less harmed when it burst.

In Pennsylvania, the analysis found, the Pittsburgh area — which is heavily reliant on education and health care — is weathering the downturn better than the Philadelphia area. In New York, areas around long-struggling upstate cities like Buffalo and Rochester are recovering faster by some measures than the New York City metropolitan area. And the rate of recovery in Rust Belt areas around Youngstown and Akron, two Ohio cities that were hit hard, has outpaced that of former boomtowns like Colorado Springs and Tucson.

In a sign of how severe the downturn has been, the Brookings analysis found that only 16 of the nation’s 100 largest metropolitan areas have regained more than half of the jobs they lost during the recession.

The toll on the nation’s millions of unemployed people has been harsh, with the Census Bureau reporting that the United States had more people living in poverty last year than in any year since it began keeping records half a century ago.

Joblessness is taking a toll on states, too. This month, 27 states will have to pay $1.2 billion to the federal government in interest on the $37.5 billion that they borrowed in recent years to keep paying unemployment benefits.

What is most striking about the high unemployment rates, several economists said in interviews, is how they continue to afflict wide parts of the country.

“It just seems to be so pervasive across the country — except for the breadbasket area — that it’s hard to pick out anybody who is bouncing back,” said Randall W. Eberts, the president of the W. E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research in Michigan.

Dr. Eberts pointed to another feature of the downturn: people are much less likely to leave their jobs voluntarily.

Before the recession, he said, about three million people voluntarily left their jobs each month. Now, around two million people do — leaving fewer openings for job seekers.

So what happened in South Carolina? Richard Kaglic, a regional economist with the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond, Va., said the state’s lingering troubles reflect what happened when its once-thriving construction and manufacturing industries were hit hard by the recession. Mr. Kaglic, who is also a pilot, used an aviation metaphor to explain what he meant.

“If your nose is high, if you’re climbing faster and your engine cuts out, you fall farther and it takes you a longer time to recover,” he said. “The conditions we experienced in late 2008, 2009, are as close as you come to an engine-out situation in the economy.”

But Mr. Kaglic said that the recent return of manufacturing jobs was giving him hope, and that one reason for the high unemployment rate was that more people were now seeking work.

“I would look at it as our dreams are delayed,” he said, “rather than our dreams being denied.”

Slump Alters Jobless Map in U.S., With South Hit Hard,






65 and Up and Looking for Work


October 24, 2009

The New York Times



It is well known that during the nation’s gale-force recession, many older Americans who dreamed of retirement continued to work, often because their 401(k)’s had plunged in value.

In fact, there are more Americans 65 and older in the job market today than at any time in history, 6.6 million, compared with 4.1 million in 2001.

Less well known, though, is that nearly half a million workers 65 and older want to work but cannot find a job — more than five times the level early this decade and this group’s highest unemployment level since the Great Depression.

The situation is made more dire because of numerous recent trends: many people over 65 have lost their jobs as seniority protections have weakened, and like most other Americans, a higher percentage of them took on debt than in previous generations.

The expectation once was to pay off your 30-year mortgage before you retired, or come close. Instead, the level of indebtedness among older Americans has risen faster than in any other age group, partly because so many obtained second mortgages to take money out of their homes.

This financial squeeze is one reason President Obama has proposed giving a special $250 one-time payment to all Social Security recipients.

Many out-of-work older Americans complain that they face foreclosure or have had to give up their car.

“It’s a big deal for a lot of these people not to find a job,” said David Certner, legislative policy director for AARP. “That so many of them are still trying to find work shows how bad the economic situation is. A lot of people normally give up at that age.”

The unemployment rate for older Americans is still much better than for others — 6.7 percent compared with 9.8 percent in the general population. But 6.7 percent is more than double the level of two years ago — and far higher than the minuscule 1.9 percent rate early this decade.

And unemployed older workers stay out of work longer — 36.5 weeks on average, 40 percent longer than for the unemployed in general.

Patricia Warmhold, who has worked as a translator and telemarketer, would love to retire, but at age 67, she says that is out of the question.

Her mortgage payment is nearly $1,500 a month, and her car payments and auto insurance are another $350. She receives $1,071 a month in Social Security and $918 in pension.

“I have very little after the mortgage,” she said.

Ms. Warmhold, who speaks German, French and Creole, was laid off a year ago from her job as an interpreter for a law firm. “I’ve been looking for jobs ever since,” she said. “I applied to Nassau County and Suffolk County, and they don’t call back.”

A divorce worsened her financial situation, although her mother, who is in her 90s, helps by sometimes sending her $100.

“In a month’s time, I sent out 101 job applications,” she said, including more than 50 to school districts, to no avail.

The recession has battered young, middle-aged and old, although several modern trends have left older workers more vulnerable than in the past — for instance, the shift toward 401(k)’s and away from traditional pensions that give retirees a monthly stipend for life has pressured many Americans to continue working well past 60.

Another force pushing Americans to delay retirement is that the percentage of companies that provide health coverage to retirees is half what it was two decades ago. Moreover, the age to obtain full Social Security benefits has increased to at least 66 for people born after 1942, from its traditional 65.

The median income for those 65 and over was just $18,208 in 2008 — a quarter of them had incomes under $11,139, according to Patrick Purcell, an expert on older workers and pensions with the Congressional Research Service.

The average Social Security recipient age 65 and over receives just $12,437 in annual benefits, he said, and among individuals 65 and older who received income from financial assets, half received less than $1,542 last year.

While Social Security keeps most seniors above the poverty line, there are a substantial number near poverty “who are just getting by,” said Richard W. Johnson, a senior fellow at the Urban Institute. Many economists say it is good that Americans are working later in life — many are living longer and able to contribute longer.

Still, many older job seekers insist they are losing out because of age discrimination. Last year, nearly 25,000 workers filed age discrimination complaints, a 29 percent jump over 2007, according to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

“I often get told that I’m overqualified,” said Barbara Brooks, 71, who retired in 2003 after 30 years as an administrative assistant at the University of California, Los Angeles. She said being told that is code language for “you’re too old.” But Ms. Brooks said she wanted to work — and needed to — citing her monthly mortgage of $1,500, which eats up half her monthly pension.

“I would like to be able to treat myself to a couple of dinners, maybe a movie,” Ms. Brooks said. “I think as long as people have excellent skills, and they can get around like a 40-year-old — I’ve been told I look 40 or 50 — why shouldn’t I work?”

For years, unemployment among older Americans was largely ignored because so few of them were jobless. But now more than a million Americans over age 60 are unemployed, two-and-a-half times the level two years ago.

And at least jobless workers 65 and over are guaranteed health coverage through Medicare. Workers laid off before that age often have to fend for themselves to obtain health insurance, which is often prohibitively expensive for those over 60.

One such worker is Michael Husar, 62, a former engineering manager who spent 38 years with General Motors and then its Delphi auto parts spinoff. Mr. Husar, a resident of Scottsdale, Ariz., retired in 2003 at age 56, but as a result of Delphi’s bankruptcy, he now has to purchase his own health insurance. He pays $1,600 a month, which translates to $19,200 a year.

Despite two engineering degrees, his search for consulting work has come up empty in recent months.

“There are two reasons I feel a need to continue working,” he said. “One, I still have a lot to offer, and two, I need the money.”

Alicia H. Munnell, director of the Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, says older workers have fared better by and large than younger workers in this recession. The percentage of workers ages 25 to 54 with jobs has fallen to 75 percent, from nearly 80 percent two years ago, while the percentage of older Americans with jobs has risen slightly, to 16.3 percent.

But that is fewer than the number who want to work.

Patricia Piazza, 66, who worked for Chrysler for 30 years as an analyst, knows that all too well.

She and her 72-year-old husband, a longtime employee at General Motors Acceptance Corporation, had planned to retire by now, but she is hunting for job, and he recently landed one with the local transit system.

Their home in Warren, Mich., has dropped $100,000 in value, Ms. Piazza said, while their pensions, as former nonunion employees, will be far less than anticipated because of the auto company bankruptcies.

Chrysler recently took away her life insurance policy and optical coverage, she said.

“It’s like the bottom fell out of everything” she said. “This isn’t the way we planned retirement.”

65 and Up and Looking for Work,






Joblessness Hits 9.5%,

Deflating Recovery Hopes


July 3, 2009

The New York Times



The American economy lost 467,000 more jobs in June, and the unemployment rate edged up to 9.5 percent in a sobering indication that the longest recession since the 1930s had yet to release its hold.

“The numbers are indicative of a continued, very severe recession,” said Stuart G. Hoffman, chief economist at PNC Financial Services in Pittsburgh. “There’s nothing in here to show that the economy and the market are pulling out of the grip of recession.”

The Labor Department’s monthly snapshot of employment, released Thursday, challenged visions of a recovery already taking root. The numbers intensify pressure on the Obama administration to show returns on programs aimed at improving national fortunes — not least its $787 billion stimulus plan.

Some economists are now calling for another dose of government spending to stimulate the economy, though the White House maintains that enough money is in the pipeline already.

“Not all the recovery money has been put to work yet,” said the labor secretary, Hilda L. Solis. “We’re making progress.”

But Ms. Solis acknowledged that joblessness was already much worse than the administration projected in January when it created its stimulus spending bill, suggesting then that joblessness would peak at about 8 percent.

Asked why the unemployment rate is already much higher, Ms. Solis noted that much of the stimulus money was moving slowly, with construction projects in particular requiring time-consuming government permits.

“Over all, it’s been a challenge,” Ms. Solis said. “We still have a ways to go.”

That explanation echoed criticism that some initially leveled at the spending package when it was debated in Congress: many of the projects would take too long to get going, creating too few jobs in the near term. Still, Ms. Solis portrayed the program as a success.

“We would have done much worse had we not put the recovery plan in place,” she said.

In recent weeks, positive signs have emerged that automakers are beginning to see stronger sales, factories are gaining more orders, and housing prices have stopped falling in some markets. But the jobs report injected the sense that paychecks are disappearing so swiftly that consumer spending is likely to be tight, limiting economic activity. The gloomy news caused the Standard & Poor’s 500-stock index to tumble more than 2 percent.

Indeed, the report reinforced a consensus that high levels of unemployment are likely to afflict American life for many months and perhaps much longer. That will dump more jobless people into a weak job market, making it harder for those already unemployed to find work and pressing down wages and hours.

After a May report that showed the pace of deterioration was moderating, some economists expressed hopes that an economic recovery might finally be emerging. But the June report tempered such thoughts.

For another month, manufacturing jobs disappeared, dipping by 136,000, while construction jobs shrank by 79,000 and retail by 21,000. Health care remained a rare bright spot, adding 21,000.

The losses for June lifted net jobs shed since the beginning of the recession to 6.5 million — equal to the net job gain over the previous nine years.

“This is the only recession since the Great Depression to wipe out all jobs growth from the previous business cycle,” Heidi Shierholz, an economist at the labor-oriented Economic Policy Institute in Washington, said in a research note. She called this fact “a devastating benchmark for the workers of this country and a testament to both the enormity of the current crisis and to the extreme weakness of jobs growth from 2000 to 2007.”

The June figures did show continued slowing in the pace of job losses. From November to March — after the collapse of some prominent financial institutions — the labor market lost an average of 670,000 jobs each month. From April to June, the decline slowed to 436,000 a month.

The Obama administration seized on those numbers to argue that its stimulus spending plan was gradually working.

“We’re seeing a kind of leveling off here,” said Ms. Solis, the labor secretary.

Some economists contend that a recovery is indeed in its early stages, cautioning that the job market tends to lag behind progress in other areas.

Michael T. Darda, chief economist at the research and trading firm MKM Partners, pointed to a recent rally in the corporate bond market as a sign that normalcy was returning to the financial system. He asserted that this presaged the resumption of economic growth in the second half of this year and vigorous activity next year.

“The labor market is going to lag the recovery process to a certain degree,” he said.

But other experts argued that employment was a more crucial source of spending power than in downturns past, given how many alternate sources of cash had been lost.

Consumer spending amounts to 70 percent of overall American economic activity. In recent times, Americans found myriad ways to fuel spending even as incomes for many households stagnated, borrowing against the once-rising value of homes and tapping credit cards.

Now, the paycheck has returned as the primary source of spending. Yet pay is eroding even for those who have jobs.

The average workweek for rank-and-file employees in the private sector — roughly 80 percent of the work force — slipped by a fraction to 33 hours, the lowest level since the government began tracking such data in 1964.

The so-called underemployment rate — which captures not only the jobless but also those working part time because their hours have been cut or they cannot find a full-time job — increased to 16.5 percent.

Some economists contend that while unemployment remains high, millions of Americans will continue to watch their spending.

“It looks really bad,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research in Washington. “There are no green shoots here. People can’t spend when they don’t have the money.”

For another month, the average length of official unemployment increased, this time to 24.5 weeks — the highest level since the government began tracking such data in 1948. The unemployment rate, 9.5 percent, is the highest since 1983.

Layoffs have slowed in recent months, but hiring has yet to pick up, meaning that jobless people face a more frustrating search.

In the Brownsville section of Brooklyn, Jeffrey Jones, 40, has found no work since losing his job as a cook at a senior center in October. He worries about paying rent and caring for his four children.

“I know I’m not supposed to be letting it stress me out,” he said. “The way I’m going now, I won’t be able to make it too much longer. I can’t go this long without doing something for my family.”


Jack Healy contributed reporting.

    Joblessness Hits 9.5%, Deflating Recovery Hopes, NYT, 3.7.2009,






Bad Times

Spur a Flight to Jobs Viewed as Safe


January 25, 2009
The New Yoirk Times


After years of struggling to get their wages up, the nation’s workers are trying to find jobs that will simply last, at least through the deep recession.

Fearing layoffs, investment bankers at a Merrill Lynch or a Morgan Stanley are joining small Wall Street firms for less pay but with signed employment guarantees. Academics are migrating to community colleges, which are adding teachers as enrollment rises. And in Eastern Wisconsin, workers furloughed from a paper mill they fear will not reopen are training as truck drivers and welders.

“Looking online and in newspapers and talking to my instructors, I’ve decided that trucking and welding stand out as jobs that are available and will continue to be available, and a lot of my friends agree,” said Dan Geneen, who has picked up a truck-driving certificate and is learning welding since he was let go by the paper mill last fall.

Trucker and welder are hardly glamorous careers to most Americans. But there is a new allure developing around jobs likely to keep a person employed, at reasonable pay, through a prolonged downturn. Government employment once offered that promise, certainly in the Great Depression. But government hiring is less than robust now, at 181,000 additions over the last year, mostly at the state and local level. That is far from offsetting the 2.5 million jobs lost in the 13 months of recession.

With his economic recovery package now before Congress, President Obama promises to generate thousands of steady jobs, some of them in government. Until those positions appear in abundance, however, the hunt for safe work is occurring mainly in the private sector — and the hunting is not easy.

“The companies doing the least hiring right now are very often the companies that offer the safest jobs,” said Susan Houseman, a senior economist and labor expert at the Upjohn Institute, a research group in Michigan.

With employers shedding half a million jobs a month, some economists, like Nancy Folbre of the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, liken safe jobs to high ground amid the turbulent flood waters of lost employment.

“There is a danger in using the term ‘safe jobs’ for this perch,” Ms. Folbre said. “That makes them sound like sinecures, and they are not.”

Such is certainly the case on Wall Street. The flow to the smaller boutique firms often involves top people at big but shaky investment banks. Fearful they will be laid off, they move on before the ax falls, said Cheryl Solit, a partner at Solit Tessler & Company, a placement firm in Short Hills, N.J., that helps such executives make the switch to jobs with less initial compensation but more security, although in these hard times, not that much more.

“The no-layoff clauses in the contracts they sign are usually for one or two years,” she said, “and usually in the form of guaranteed compensation. The new employer is not likely to lay you off when he has to pay you anyway.”

Community colleges are turning out to be a similar mecca as enrollment rises because of the recession. Laid-off workers are flocking to the schools to retrain for other occupations, and young people are enrolling in greater numbers to avoid the higher tuitions of a four-year college, said James Jacobs, president of Macomb Community College in Warren, Mich.

At 41,000 students, Macomb’s enrollment is up 10 percent from last year, Mr. Jacobs said. With the recession driving enrollment, he is adding to his staff of 220 full-time teachers and 750 adjuncts. Most of the new hires are adjuncts, though the courses they teach there and at another community college often add up to full-time work.

Since enrollment is rising, they are assured of work semester after semester, Mr. Jacobs said. The annual pay is $40,000 or less — usually less — and no benefits. Still, they are coming back.

“If you spent six or seven years and hundreds of thousands of dollars getting a graduate degree and you end up doing this, that is not a happy thought,” Mr. Jacobs said. “But it is steady work.”

That is precisely what Mr. Geneen, the displaced paper mill worker, seeks from his course work at Fox Valley Technical College in Appleton, Wis., where he earned a truck driver’s certificate in December and is now learning to be a welder.

He was laid off in September as an operator of a coating machine when the NewPage paper company in Kimberly, Wis., shut — a victim of plunging demand. Mr. Geneen, 47, had worked at the mill since high school. He says he is not even trying to match the $60,000, with overtime, he earned at NewPage.

Steady work, even in a recession, is his current goal, which makes him reluctant to exercise his recall rights even if NewPage reopens. “I don’t want to have the same thing happen to me again five years from now, when I’m older,” he said.

Taking advantage of a federal subsidy to train for what he considers a safer occupation, he completed a 10-week course to become a commercial truck driver. Even though truck shipments are off sharply and drivers’ employment has fallen, Mr. Geneen sees a need for truck drivers, in good times and bad. So do 34 others who were laid off at NewPage and took the same course.

“Two of my classmates just this week applied at a trucking company advertising for tractor-trailer drivers,” Mr. Geneen said. “They were hired on the spot and told to report for work on Feb. 1. They didn’t even meet with the personnel people.”

Mr. Geneen says he plans to drive a truck, preferably within Wisconsin. But with his wife, Kathy, earning $40,000 a year as a certified public accountant and with enough severance from his mill job to help carry the family for a while, Mr. Geneen has enrolled in a yearlong course to qualify as a welder. It is another occupation chronically short of qualified people, even in a recession. At $40,000 a year or so, welders’ work would not match his old pay but would provide a backup plan for the future.

“I want options that will hold up in a failing economy,” he said.

As the recession deepens, the only industry in the private sector adding jobs in significant numbers is health care, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and it is doing so across the board, from physician to bed pan attendant.

Government used to be a refuge, particularly postal work and public school teaching. But the post office has been shrinking its payroll for several years. Public school employment — mainly kindergarten through high school — rose through August to nearly 8.1 million jobs, but it has fallen each month since as declining tax revenue forces cutbacks.

Those cutbacks rarely apply to math and science teachers, who are often in short supply. “Teaching math in a high school in an affluent suburb,” said Tom Geoghegan, a labor lawyer in Chicago and a Democratic candidate for Congress, “that is my idea of the ultimate safe job.”

Bad Times Spur a Flight to Jobs Viewed as Safe,
NYT, 25.1.2009,






For the Jobless,

Hope and Fear for a New Day


January 20, 2009
The New York Times


COLUMBIA, S.C. — Joe Lewis came to the local employment office on Friday in the hope of buying a little more time.

Four months had passed since he lost his job as a maintenance worker at a chain of convenience stores, trading a paycheck of $370 a week for an unemployment check of $180 a week. With those benefits about to expire, Mr. Lewis arrived to fill out the paperwork for an extension, weary and uncertain about the future.

A new president is about to take responsibility for the American economy — the first black president, which has a particular resonance for Mr. Lewis, 52, an African-American. That Barack Obama is promising to devote hundreds of billions of dollars toward creating jobs is interesting, too. Yet none of this gave Mr. Lewis comfort.

“I haven’t seen the change,” Mr. Lewis said. “Until he does something, he’s just like all the rest of them to me. He ain’t done nothing for me. Everybody’s making promises.”

Mr. Lewis’s job search has amounted to an in-depth tour of shrinking prospects in one of the worst economic downturns since the Depression. He has applied at warehouses, at a moving company, at a concrete plant. So far, nothing. The next stop: a poultry slaughterhouse on the outskirts of Columbia.

Variations on his story echoed through the employment office in downtown Columbia, whose economic experience traces the national trajectory of the last decade more than any other metropolitan area. The people who passed through on this recent morning provided a snapshot of the extraordinary economic challenges inherited by the new president, as well as the mixture of hope and skepticism that greets his arrival.

Hope, because Mr. Obama represents a distinct break from the past, armed with a mandate to unleash government largess toward putting millions of people back to work. Skepticism, because Washington seems a long way from where most Americans live, geographically and figuratively. At the employment office, sounds of frustration created the running soundtrack. “This is the issue ...” “I never got the call.” “The store has closed ...” “I just need this paper signed, showing that I been here.”

A lot of people have been here. In December, 23,029 people passed through here to arrange job training, seek a new job or arrange unemployment benefits, said Keith Lucas, area director of the Midlands Workforce center, the official name for the place. That was far more than the 13,698 who came in the final month of 2007.

Nationally, some 2.6 million jobs have disappeared since December 2007, when the recession began. Last week, 524,000 more Americans filed for unemployment benefits, amid forecasts that the number could spike as high as 750,000 by late this year.

The economy that Mr. Obama is supposed to somehow fix is gripped by fear and the deepening realization that, for many people, recovery will be an exercise in making do with less than they had before.

A year ago, people let go by area factories that had paid as much as $18 and $20 an hour generally balked at the idea of retraining for a job installing heating and air-conditioning gear at half that pay. Now, those training programs are packed.

“There was a lot of resistance before,” said Abby Linden, who oversees such programs. “People now seem to expect that they’re going to have to start over.”

Mr. Obama’s inauguration is like a palpable marker of a new beginning for many, an inarguable sign of change, she said. “There’s a lot of excitement and hope,” Ms. Linden said. “People have a lot of faith in him, and faith that he’s going to be able to turn it around.”

And yet, out in the lobby, where dozens of people sat quietly in plastic-backed chairs arrayed across the linoleum floor, waiting to apply for unemployment benefits, weariness and resignation carried as much weight as faith and hope.

“It’s got to be better, it can’t be worse,” said Charles English, 62, who lost his job at an asphalt plant two years ago and has not worked since, living on the good graces of his grown son. “Just to listen to Obama talk and see those kids of his, it just makes you stand up and feel proud.”

But the talk of big spending on public works projects to generate jobs seemed to exclude him. “I ain’t able to go out and get this construction work,” he said. “I’m too old for that. So what happens to me?”

As John Arnette sat beneath the pale glow of the fluorescent lights, waiting to inquire why his check had suddenly stopped, he worried that Mr. Obama was promising to spend money the country did not really have, adding to long-term debts.

“You’ve got all the money that’s been given to the financial sector, plus all the money that’s going to the Big Three auto companies,” he said. “Where’s the money going to come from?”

It was the same question being asked with increasing frequency in his own household: Despite his college degree, Mr. Arnette, 36, has been out of work since May, when he lost his job as a midlevel manager at a convenience store chain.

Looking for work has been a humiliating process of discovery. Fresh college graduates are working as waiters or stocking the shelves at Lowe’s, the home improvement store. Management positions there seem increasingly filled by people with graduate degrees.

His wife still works, at a Verizon Wireless call center, but their household income has dropped from $150,000 a year to about $65,000.

“I’m blessed that my wife has a good job,” Mr. Arnette said. “Without that, I’d be homeless.”

For the Jobless, Hope and Fear for a New Day, NYT, 20.1.2009,






With Economy,

Day Laborer Jobs Dwindle


October 20, 2008
The New York Times


HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. — More than 50 day laborers stood, bored, anxious and mostly silent, in the sun-blasted parking lot of a Home Depot here last week, tracking the ebb and flow of customers and hoping for work. The hours crawled by. Six, maybe seven men scored jobs. The rest just waited.

“To stand here doesn’t make a lot of sense to a lot of people,” Jairo Mancillas, 29, a day laborer from El Salvador, said glumly as he waited on a grassy median in the parking lot. “But to us, it’s a very important thing. It means a lot.”

This bleak scene is playing out at scores of day laborer sites across the region. Here on Long Island; under the elevated No. 7 line on Roosevelt Avenue in Jackson Heights, Queens; at the intersection of Port Richmond Avenue and Castleton Avenue on Staten Island; along Bay Parkway in Brooklyn; near highway on-ramps in Westchester County; and into New Jersey and Connecticut, clusters of day laborers, their numbers swelled by people laid off from full-time jobs, wait for work that, more often than not, never comes.

Two years ago, when the economy was booming and home-building was thriving, many of these same laborers were working every day. Now, they are lucky if they work twice a week, many of them say. Their lives have become a test of wits, patience and hope.

Simple lives have become simpler. The laborers, most of them illegal immigrants, said they had stopped eating in restaurants, buying new clothes and sending money home to their families. In interviews with more than a dozen laborers in New York City and its suburbs, many said they were thinking about returning to their homelands.

Carmelo Peña Garcia, 59, an illegal immigrant from Mexico who waits for work every day at Roosevelt Avenue and 69th Street in Queens, said he was trying to make just enough money to buy a plane ticket home. “Sometimes you don’t sleep because you are thinking about work and nothing else,” he said on a recent morning.

Here in Hempstead, Mr. Mancillas said, “The American dream isn’t an American dream.”

The amount of money sent by immigrants in the United States to Latin America and the Caribbean is expected to increase this year over last year, according to the Inter-American Development Bank, which has been tracking remittances since 2000. But when adjusted for inflation, the value of the remittances is actually expected to decline. The bank attributed the drop to several factors, including the economic downturn in the United States, inflation and a weaker dollar.

Like other day laborers, Mr. Mancillas came to the United States with the intention of making money to help his family. In his village of Ahuachapán, El Salvador, he was a tailor and worked from home, making trousers for adults and children. But he was barely scraping by and decided to try his luck in the United States.

He left his wife and two young daughters behind, and with the help of a smuggler, whom he paid $2,500, traveled through Guatemala and Mexico, sneaked across the border into California, then made his way to Hempstead in 2005.

Work came quickly at first, he said. Every morning just after dawn he and many other day laborers would gather outside a Home Depot, and most days, he was hired. In flush times, he made as much as $800 a week. He would send $600 home and use the balance for food, clothes and his half of the $500 monthly rent for a tiny room he shared with another laborer in a rooming house in Hempstead.

He and his friends made enough to be able to eat meals in restaurants and buy clothes — for themselves and their families — at the mall. Mr. Mancillas would fill boxes with toys and other goods and ship them to his daughters in El Salvador.

But work slowed last year and now has nearly dried up: In the past several months, like many other laborers, he has been working once or twice a week, making between $80 and $200.

The drop in wages for Mr. Mancillas has resulted in sacrifices, large and small.

Mr. Mancillas said he now shops for clothes at the Salvation Army. He no longer eats out and instead subsists on basic home-cooked food or rice and beans from Latino delicatessens. He has also stopped buying clothes and toys for his family.

Most significantly, he said, the remittances home are much smaller and less frequent. Some weeks he does not send any money at all.

As the economy has worsened, the number of laborers gathering at the Home Depot here has grown, making the competition for fewer jobs that much fiercer. The newcomers have arrived from other cities, thinking things would be better in New York. Or they have been laid off from longer-term jobs in manufacturing and construction, either as a result of the economy or because of tougher crackdowns on illegal immigrants.

As demand for day labor has plunged, some employers have taken advantage of the glut of workers by paying them less or not paying them at all, several workers said.

One of Mr. Mancillas’s friends, David, an illegal immigrant from Mexico, said a contractor did not pay him for several days of work soon after he arrived last year in Hempstead. But he did not seek help from the authorities because he was afraid of being deported.

“He owed me $1,000,” said David, who refused to give his last name. “But fear kept my mouth shut.”

The crowd thinned throughout the day as workers gave up and went home, most to shared rooms in houses full of other laborers with little to do but watch television. By midafternoon, fewer than 20 remained. Some sat alone on the curbs of the medians, seemingly lost in their thoughts, but still keeping an eye out for potential employers.

“When you return to the house and you haven’t worked and you can’t provide for your family, you feel really bad,” Mr. Mancillas said.

Another of Mr. Mancillas’s friends, a 23-year-old Salvadoran named Junior Garcia, spotted a Home Depot customer trying to wrestle some lumber into the back of a van and sprinted over to help him. (Mr. Garcia would get a $10 tip out of it, a small windfall.)

A few minutes passed. The men watched cars drive by.

Wilfredo Hernandez, 38, who was also from El Salvador, broke the silence. “I used to go to restaurants all the time, drink beers,” he said. “One night I went to the restaurant Hooters. You know Hooters?” He itemized his meal from that night: a hamburger ($10) and four beers ($20). “I gave the waitress $36,” he said wistfully.

The men said they did not know much about the turmoil in the financial markets. “The investment in the war in Iraq is the reason, right?” Mr. Mancillas asked. But while the details might have been obscure to them, the realities of the country’s economic malaise were plainly, and painfully, evident.

“The situation in the United States has gotten bad,” Mr. Garcia said, fiddling with a paint-splattered tape measure he carried on his belt. “I didn’t think it was going to come to this.”

“Let’s see what sort of changes a new president brings,” Mr. Hernandez said. “If it continues the same, I’ll go back.”

The men grew silent again and continued to scan the lot. The idea of returning home was not a popular topic. And anyway, the day was not over yet, and there was still a chance, however slight, of work.

    With Economy, Day Laborer Jobs Dwindle, NYT, 20.10.2008,


















Illustration: Paul Rogers


The Working Wounded    NYT    27 May 2008















Op-Ed Contributor

The Working Wounded

May 27, 2008
The New York Times


Ann Arbor, Mich.

ON a hot August morning in 1996, Scott Dominguez reported to work at Evergreen Resources, a small fertilizer manufacturing plant in his hometown, Soda Springs, Idaho. The workday began like any other, with gruff commands barked out by the owner of the company, Allan Elias, who was a Wharton graduate, a lawyer and one of the most notorious violators of environmental and worker-safety laws in the state.

Mr. Elias wanted his workers to clean out a 25,000-gallon tank that contained cyanide waste. He refused to test the air or the waste inside the tank. He ignored the pleas of his workers for safety equipment. When the workers complained of sore throats and difficulty breathing, Mr. Elias told them to finish the job or find work somewhere else.

Mr. Dominguez, a 20-year-old high school graduate, wanted to keep his job. Wearing just jeans and a T-shirt, he used a ladder to descend into the tank. Two hours later, covered in sludge and barely breathing, he was removed from the tank, a victim of cyanide poisoning at the hands of a ruthless employer who would blame his “stupid and lazy” employees for the incident.

Mr. Dominguez suffered severe and permanent brain damage. He now has the rigid body movement and stammering speech found in patients with Parkinson’s disease.

The Justice Department opened a criminal investigation of Evergreen Resources. I was one of the lead prosecutors on the case. We quickly discovered that we had a major problem.

Mr. Elias did not commit a crime under the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which is the primary federal worker-safety law in the United States. Why not? Because Mr. Dominguez did not die.

My colleagues and I were shocked to learn that an employer who breaks the nation’s worker-safety laws can be charged with a crime only if a worker dies. Even then, the crime is a lowly Class B misdemeanor, with a maximum sentence of six months in prison. (About 6,000 workers are killed on the job each year, many in cases where the deaths could have been prevented if their employers followed the law.) Employers who maim their workers face, at worst, a maximum civil penalty of $70,000 for each violation.

We ended up prosecuting Mr. Elias for environmental crimes, and he was sentenced to 17 years in prison. I later became chief of the Justice Department’s environmental crimes section, and we started an initiative — based on this case and others like it — to seek justice when workers were seriously injured or killed during environmental crimes. We prosecuted some of the largest companies in America. But in cases where no environmental crimes were committed, we often could not prosecute.

Employers rarely face criminal prosecution under the worker-safety laws. In the 38 years since Congress enacted the Occupational Safety and Health Act, only 68 criminal cases have been prosecuted, or less than two per year, with defendants serving a total of just 42 months in jail. During that same time, approximately 341,000 people have died at work, according to data compiled from the National Safety Council and the Bureau of Labor Statistics by the A.F.L.-C.I.O.

It is long past time for Congress to change the law. First, Congress should amend the Occupational Safety and Health Act to make it a crime for an employer to commit violations that cause serious injury to workers or that knowingly place workers at risk of death or serious injury. Whether good fortune intervenes and prevents harm to workers should not determine whether an employer commits a crime.

Congress should make it a felony to commit a criminal violation of the worker-safety laws, and the penalties for lawbreakers should be stiffened. The maximum sentence ought to be measured in years, not months.

Congress also should change the worker-safety laws so that ignorance of the law is no longer a defense. Employers have a duty to know their responsibilities under the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Finally, Congress should make clear who can be prosecuted. Some courts have held that prosecution is limited to companies and their owners. Supervisors who order workers to break the law, as well as responsible corporate officers who fail to stop violations that they know are occurring, should also be held criminally responsible, just as they are under most other federal laws.

Most companies care about protecting their workers. But without a serious threat of criminal enforcement, more workers will be put at risk by companies that put profits before safety.

David M. Uhlmann is a law professor

at the University of Michigan.

The Working Wounded, NYT, 27.5.2008,






80,000 Jobs Cut in March;

Unemployment Rate Rises


April 4, 2008
The New York Times


The economy shed 80,000 jobs in March, the third consecutive month of rising unemployment, presenting a stark sign that the country may already be in a recession.

Sharp downturns in the manufacturing and construction sectors led the decline, the biggest in five years. The Labor Department also said employers cut far more jobs in January and February than originally estimated.

There were fewer jobs in March than there had been five months earlier. In the last 50 years, whenever there has been an employment downturn like the one of the last few months, a recession has followed.

The unemployment rate ticked up to 5.1 percent from 4.8 percent, its highest level since the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in September 2005. More Americans looked for work than in February, when many simply took themselves out of the job market. But employment opportunities appeared sparse.

Stock markets on Wall Street opened flat, as investors hoped that the worst of the downturn was over.

Economists were less optimistic. The drop in payrolls was worse than feared: many analysts had expected a decline of 50,000 jobs and an unemployment rate of 5 percent.

“Three months in a row of payroll job losses and a sizable negative revision: these are clear signs that the job market is in recession,” said Jared Bernstein, an economist at the Economics Policy Institute. “I’m hard-pressed to imagine anyone who would raise doubt to that at this point.”

The employment report is considered the most important monthly indicator of the health of the economy. Many economists were already bracing for a poor report, and the chairman of the Federal Reserve, Ben S. Bernanke, told Congress earlier this week that the labor market would continue to soften.

The numbers suggest the Fed will extend its string of rate-cutting when it meets April 29. Investors expect central bankers to lower the benchmark interest rate by at least a quarter point, a move that can stimulate growth.

Wage increases continue to fall behind inflation, meaning many employees are actually earning less than a year earlier. Average hourly salaries ticked up 5 cents, or 0.3 percent, in March, and were running 3.6 percent higher than a year earlier. But consumer prices rose 4 percent over the same period.

In March, private payrolls dropped for a fourth month, as factories, home builders and retail outlets all slashed positions. The only increases came in education and government jobs, as well as the leisure and hospitality industries.

Employers cut 76,000 jobs in January and February, far more than originally estimated.

    80,000 Jobs Cut in March; Unemployment Rate Rises, NYT, 4.4.2008,






Sharp Drop in Jobs

Adds to Grim Economic Picture


March 8, 2008
The New York Times


WASHINGTON — The worst fears of consumers, investors and Washington officials were confirmed on Friday, as deepening paralysis on Wall Street collided with stark new evidence of falling employment and a likely recession.

In a report that was far worse than most analysts had expected, the Labor Department estimated that the nation lost 63,000 jobs in February. It was the second consecutive monthly decline, and the third straight drop for private-sector jobs.

Even before the bad news on jobs emerged, the Federal Reserve was already racing to ease the latest crisis in the credit markets, where seemingly rock-solid companies have been caught short because the markets are devaluing the collateral they had posted to back billions of dollars in loans. Much of that collateral consists of mortgages.

In a surprise announcement early Friday, the Federal Reserve said it would inject about $200 billion into the nation’s banking system this month — with more to come after that — by offering banks one-month loans at low rates and in return letting them pledge mortgage-backed bonds and even riskier assets as collateral.

Though monthly payroll data are notoriously volatile and subject to revision, the jobs report was so bleak that many of the few remaining optimists on Wall Street threw in the towel and conceded that the United States was already in a recession.

“Godot has arrived,” wrote Edward Yardeni, who had been one of Wall Street’s most relentlessly upbeat forecasters. “I’ve been rooting for the muddling through scenario. However, the credit crisis continues to worsen and has become a full-blown credit crunch, which is depressing the real economy.”

The convulsions in the credit markets were spurred in part when Thornburg Mortgage, one of the nation’s biggest independent mortgage lenders, and Carlyle Capital, the offspring of one of the country’s largest private equity firms, failed to meet demands by lenders to post more cash or pledge other assets, also known as margin calls, on debts that had been backed by packages of mortgages.

Fed officials said Friday that they were not pumping money into the system in response to the poor jobs data but rather to the growing unwillingness or inability of investors to finance even routine business deals. Fed officials have long feared that anxiety about credit losses would create a “negative feedback loop,” or self-perpetuating spiral of rising unemployment, more home foreclosures and yet more credit losses.

“You have big credit losses that make it harder to get new credit, which means the economy starts to slow down and foreclosures go up,” said Nigel Gault, a senior economist at Global Insight, a forecasting firm. “Then you get even bigger credit losses, which makes banks even less willing to lend and you keep spiraling down.”

The Fed’s problem is that its main weapons against a downturn — lower interest rates and easier money — are ill suited to a crisis that stems from collapsing confidence about credit quality.

Even though the central bank sharply cut short-term interest rates twice in January and clearly signaled that it would cut them again on March 18, rates for home mortgages have risen and rates for many forms of commercial loans have jumped sharply.

“There has been a tug of war under way between deteriorating credit conditions and monetary policy,” wrote Laurence H. Meyer, a former Fed governor and now a forecaster at Macroeconomic Advisers. As a result, he said, credit conditions have remained almost as tight as ever.

The darkening economic outlook, coming just nine months before presidential elections, puts enormous pressure on President Bush and could pose a problem for Senator John McCain, the presumptive Republican nominee for president. Typically, the party in power has not been able to hold onto the White House when the economy is in a recession in an election year.

President Bush, in a hastily arranged appearance before television cameras on Friday afternoon, acknowledged that the economy had slowed but predicted that it would get a lift this summer from the $168 billion stimulus package of tax rebates and temporary tax cuts that Congress recently passed.

“Losing a job is painful, and I know Americans are concerned about the economy,” Mr. Bush said.

“The good news is, we anticipated this and took decisive action to bolster the economy, by passing a growth package that will put money into the hands of American workers and businesses.”

Edward P. Lazear, chairman of President Bush’s Council of Economic Advisers, said the White House had downgraded its earlier forecasts but still believed that the tax rebates of up to $1,200 for many families will help the economy escape a recession.

“There is no denying that when you get negative job numbers, realistically the economy is less strong than we had hoped it would be,” Mr. Lazear said. “The question is how quickly will it pick up. We think it will pick up — as I mentioned, we think it will pick up by the summer.”

Few private forecasters were so buoyant. Many firms had already concluded that a recession was under way. Within minutes of the new report on employment, many in the dwindling pool of optimists changed their positions.

Mr. Yardeni was hardly alone. Just one minute after the Labor Department published its report at 8:30 a.m., JPMorgan Chase reversed its stance, declaring that a recession appeared to have begun. Lehman Brothers switched its position as well.

Unemployment typically starts to rise only after a recession has started, and it keeps climbing for many months after the economy has hit bottom and begun to recover.

Paul Ashworth, an economist at Capital Economics, noted that private-sector payroll employment has now declined by an average of 47,000 a month — a decline that has been followed by a recession every time it has happened in the last 50 years. In each of those recessions, Mr. Ashworth added, the job market recovered only after monthly job losses peaked at 200,000 jobs.

Ben S. Bernanke, chairman of the Federal Reserve, had already sent clear signals in recent weeks that the central bank was ready to reduce the overnight federal funds rate when policy makers meet on March 18.

Since August, the Fed has sharply cut overnight rates five times, to 3 percent from 5.25 percent, and investors have been all but assuming that the central bank would reduce them by at least another half a percentage point, and perhaps three-quarters of a point, at the next meeting.

But by Thursday, Fed officials had become increasingly alarmed that rates for many kinds of lending were skyrocketing as investors demanded steep risk premiums that are normally associated with a serious economic recession.

What particularly alarmed Fed officials was that the margin calls on Carlyle Capital and Thornburg Mortgage had stemmed from plunging confidence about the value of highly conservative mortgages that were guaranteed by Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the giant government-sponsored mortgage companies.

If investors lose confidence in Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, which have become the only major remaining source of mortgage financing in recent months, Fed officials fear that home sales and housing prices could plunge further and foreclosures could climb even higher than they already have.

On Thursday, the Mortgage Bankers Association reported that about 7.9 percent of all loans — a record high — were past due or in foreclosure. Until the third quarter of last year, the rate had not climbed above 7 percent since 1979.

Home prices are falling in almost every part of the country, a phenomenon that Fed officials and many other experts until recently thought was all but impossible, and some analysts now predict that average home prices will ultimately fall 20 percent from their peak in 2006.

The effect is reducing household wealth. According to data this week from the Fed, net household wealth declined by $900 billion in the fourth quarter of last year.

Indeed, the ratio of homeowners’ equity to the value of their homes fell below 50 percent for the first time in history last year, according to the Fed. Far more alarming, however, is that about 30 percent of all homes bought in 2005 and 2006 are “under water,” meaning they have mortgages that are higher than their resale value.

“We’re at the beginning of the bursting of the housing bubble,” said Dean Baker, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a liberal research organization in Washington. “The rate of foreclosures is just going to increase as time goes on.”

Eric S. Rosengren, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Boston, noted that the housing calamity thus far has occurred even though unemployment is still low, at just 4.8 percent. But a surge in joblessness would almost certainly lead to more foreclosures and more downward pressure on home prices.

“A downside risk that we do need to consider is whether a rising unemployment rate generated by slow growth will force some people to sell their houses, creating further downward pressure on housing prices,” Mr. Rosengren said in an interview.

In opening up its monetary spigots on Friday, the central bank left little doubt that it wanted to increase the money for mortgage lending.

Its first move was to offer up to $100 billion through the Term Auction Facility, a program created in December that allows any bank or savings and loan to bid for loans at what amounts to wholesale rates and allows them to pledge a wide variety of securities — including mortgage-backed securities that are not tradable at the moment — as collateral.

The central bank’s other new initiative is to lend an additional $100 billion in March through its open-market operations. That money is available only to primary dealers, a few dozen major investment banks, but the loans can be secured by certain mortgage-backed securities, like those issued by Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac.

Fed officials said they were prepared to infuse even bigger sums of money into the financial system if they see a need, and the central bank said it was in “close consultation with foreign central bank counterparts” — a hint that it might seek support from other central banks if the credit problems persist.

    Sharp Drop in Jobs Adds to Grim Economic Picture, NYT, 8.3.2008,






Employment Drops

in a Pink Slip Blizzard


February 1, 2008
Filed at 3:48 p.m. ET
The New York Times


WASHINGTON (AP) -- In a shower of pink slips, U.S. employers cut jobs last month for the first time in more than four years, the starkest signal yet that the economy is grinding to a halt if it hasn't already toppled into recession.

Conditions are deteriorating, according to the most up-to-date employment snapshot by the Labor Department, which showed nervous employers slicing payrolls by 17,000. The country hasn't seen such a nationwide job loss since 2003, when employers were still struggling to recover from the last previous recession.

''We are certainly on thin ice,'' said John Silvia, chief economist at Wachovia. And even President Bush, normally a cheerleader for the economy, said there were ''serious signs'' it was weakening.

Wall Street, however, took the news in stride. Stock prices were up near the close of the trading day.

Job losses were widespread in January. Factories, construction companies, mortgage brokers and real-estate firms were among those eliminating jobs -- casualties of the housing bust and credit crunch. The government cut jobs for the first time since last July.

All those cuts swamped job gains in education, health care, retailing and elsewhere.

The unemployment rate actually dipped slightly to 4.9 percent, from 5 percent in December, as people left the labor force.

''Discouraged by a sluggish job market, many more adults are sitting on the sidelines,'' said Peter Morici, an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland.

Wage growth also slowed, another indication of belt-tightening. Smaller wage gains could make people who still have jobs -- already squeezed by high energy prices -- reluctant to spend, further hurting the economy.

President Bush prodded Congress anew to quickly pass an economic rescue package.

''There's serious signs that ... the economy is weakening and that we've got to do something about it,'' Bush said. On Capitol Hill, Democratic and Republican supporters of a stimulus package -- including tax rebates for people and tax breaks for businesses -- agreed the gloomy employment report underscored a need for urgency. The package is pending in the Senate, where there are disputes over attempts to expand it.

The Democratic presidential contenders, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton of New York and Barack Obama of Illinois, said the job losses were evidence of failed Bush policies. ''We are sliding into a second Bush recession,'' Clinton said. Obama called the employment figures ''troubling news'' and urged Congress to extend unemployment benefits ''for more time and to more people.''

To help ease the credit crisis, the Federal Reserve announced it would provide cash-strapped banks with an additional $60 billion in short-term loans through auctions later this month. The Fed started the auctions in December and has already provided $100 billion in loans to banks.

With fears of recession growing, the Fed has gotten much more aggressive -- ordering two big interest rate reductions in just over a week. A severely depressed housing market, hard-to-get credit, turbulence on Wall Street and ''some softening in labor markets'' were cited by the Fed when it lowered rates by a bold half-point on Wednesday. The weak employment report would justify additional rate cuts, economists said.

The health of the nation's job market is a critical factor shaping how the overall economy fares. If companies continue to cut back on hiring and put a lid on wages, that will spell more trouble.

People running companies are concerned.

''They are thinking if there is some capital spending I should postpone for a while, I should do that. If there is some hiring I don't necessarily need to do right now, I can put that off for a few months to see what happens,'' said Joel Naroff, president of Naroff Economic Advisors. ''The problem with that thinking is that more economic weakness or a recession can become somewhat of a self-fulfilling prophecy.''

Average hourly earnings for jobholders rose to $17.75 in January, a 0.2 percent increase from the previous month. It was half the pace logged in December. Over the past 12 months wages went up by 3.7 percent. With high energy and food prices, though, workers may feel like their paychecks aren't stretching as far.

The unemployment rate had shot up in December to 5 percent, from 4.7 percent in November. The magnitude of that increase -- something not seen since right after the September 2001 terror attacks -- set off alarms. In the past, such a big increase has signaled the economy was starting a recession or already in one.

With economic growth slowing this year, the unemployment rate will climb again. In fact, Mark Zandi, chief economist at Economy.com, predicts the jobless rate will rise to near 6.5 percent in early 2009.

The 17,000 drop was in total payrolls -- both government and private employers -- in January, the first monthly decline since August 2003. The government sliced 18,000 positions, while private employers added just 1,000, the fewest in nearly a year.

The government on Friday also released annual revisions -- based on more complete information -- that showed job creation was even weaker last year than initially thought.

The economy added an average of just 95,000 jobs per month in 2007, versus an earlier estimate of 111,000 a month. In 2006, payroll employment grew by an average of 175,000 a month.

Construction and factory workers have been especially hard hit by the meltdown in housing, which has catapulted home foreclosures to record highs. Construction companies cut 27,000 jobs last month and have lost 284,000 since employment peaked in September 2006. Spending by private builders on housing projects last year plunged by a record 18.3 percent, the Commerce Department said in a separate report.

Factories eliminated 28,000 positions in January, and have cut 269,000 jobs over the past 12 months. Manufacturing activity gained some ground in January, after contracting in December, the Institute for Supply Management said in still another report Friday.

The economy nearly stalled in the final three months of last year, and some economists believe it may actually be shrinking now.

Under one rough rule, the economy would have to contract for six months for the country to be considered in a recession. The likelihood of a recession has risen sharply over the past year, and analysts increasingly believe the U.S. will be in one during the first half of 2008. The worry is that people and businesses will hunker down and pull back their spending, sending the economy into a tailspin.

Bush said, ''We're just in a rough patch. And, I'm confident we can get through this rough patch.''


On the Net:

Employment report: http://www.bls.gov

Employment Drops in a Pink Slip Blizzard, NYT, 1.2.2008,






U.S. Economy Unexpectedly

Sheds 17,000 Jobs


February 1, 2008
The New York Times


The economy lost 17,000 jobs in January, the Labor Department reported on Friday, the first decline in four years and the most striking evidence yet that the United States may be slipping into a recession.

Jobs disappeared across a broad spectrum of professions, with the steepest losses coming in the manufacturing, construction and goods-producing industries.

The unemployment rate, after jumping to 5 percent in December, fell back slightly, to 4.9 percent.

“This is the clearest signal yet that the job market is either in or teetering on a recession,” said Jared Bernstein, senior economist at the liberal Economic Policy Institute in Washington.

With the collapse of the housing market, trouble on Wall Street and the continuing fallout of the subprime mortgage crisis, many economists have pointed to the continued growth in the labor market as the final holdout in a sluggish economy.

But the employment report puts the job market in a startlingly different light. Economists had predicted a substantial gain in January payrolls, and early signs pointed to a relatively strong report. Instead, the government reported the first decline in jobs since August 2003.

“There’s a race going on between an economy that’s gathering weakness and aggressive monetary and fiscal policy,” said Ethan Harris, chief United States economist at Lehman Brothers. “Whether we have a recession in the U.S. or not depends on which of these two forces moves quicker.”

Mr. Harris noted that the employment data can be quite volatile from month to month. The last reported monthly decline, in August 2007, was later revised up to a 74,000 gain.

Just last month, the December report showed an anemic 18,000 rise in payrolls, prompting a significant downturn in the stock market. On Friday, the Labor Department raised that estimate to a gain of 82,000 jobs.

“People were saying the recession started in December,” Mr. Harris said. “Look, it didn’t. December was fine.”

Still, there were several signs of weakness in the employment report. Payrolls at private companies increased by a mere 1,000 jobs. Businesses are reducing the number of hours that their employees work.

And workers’ salaries have effectively fallen in the last 12 months. The average hourly wage for rank-and-file workers — about 80 percent of the total work force — rose 3.7 percent since last January, below the pace of inflation.

Average hourly earnings ticked up 0.2 percent last month, slowing from a 0.4 percent rise in December.

The government also sharply lowered its estimates for employment in 2007 as a whole. In November, for example, the government had said 115,000 jobs were created. That number was reduced to 60,000 in the latest report.

The jobs report was accompanied on Friday by a batch of mixed economic data. Manufacturers appeared to recover from a sudden drop in business in December, as a closely watched indicator — a survey by the Institute for Supply Management — ticked up on a surge in foreign and domestic demand.

The I.S.M. index had fallen to 47.7 in December, setting off concern on Wall Street, but that figure was revised up to 48.4. The index was at 50.7 for January, suggesting that December’s downturn was a momentary blip.

Despite the waves of bad economic news, American consumers were more confident about the state of the economy in January, according to a survey by the University of Michigan and Reuters. Consumer confidence rose to a reading of 78.4 from 75.5 in December.

Finally, the Commerce Department reported that spending on construction projects fell 1.1 percent in December. The decline was mostly due to the problems in the housing markets, as home builders cut back on groundbreakings in response to lagging sales. Nonresidential construction was flat for the month.

    U.S. Economy Unexpectedly Sheds 17,000 Jobs, NYT, 1.2.2008,






Measuring Payroll Jobs,



February 1, 2008
Filed at 11:25 a.m. ET
The New York Times


WASHINGTON (AP) -- The number of payroll jobs declines for the first time in more than four years but the unemployment rate falls. Why the discrepancy?

The difference results from the fact that the two figures come from different surveys of the labor market.

The unemployment rate is based on a survey of households. It shows the number of unemployed people looking for work as a percentage of the total number of persons in the labor force.

The number of payroll jobs created each month is based on survey of payroll data from businesses and government agencies.

The two figures over time generally show the same trends in the labor market, but the monthly report can at times diverge because two surveys are being used.

    Measuring Payroll Jobs, Unemployment, NYT, 1.2.2008,







Sounds Warning About Economy


January 5, 2008

The New York Times



The unemployment rate surged to 5 percent in December as the economy added a meager 18,000 jobs, the smallest monthly increase in four years, the Labor Department reported on Friday.

Economists viewed the report as the most powerful indication to date that the United States could well be falling into a recessionary downturn. Evidence of widening unemployment heightened anticipation that the Federal Reserve would further cut interest rates this month, perhaps by an unusually large half a percentage point, in a bid to prevent the economy from sliding into the muck.

“This is unambiguously negative,” said Mark Zandi, chief economist at Moody’s Economy.com. “The economy is on the edge of recession, if we’re not already engulfed in one.”

A recession is typically defined as an extended period of at least several months during which economic activity shrinks and unemployment rises.

The swift deterioration in the job market resonated as a warning sign that troubles once confined to real estate and construction are spilling into the broader economy, threatening the ability of American consumers to keep spending with customary abandon.

On Wall Street, the report led to a big sell-off that sent the Dow Jones industrial average plunging nearly 2 percent.

As the presidential race heated up, Democrats seized upon the bleak job numbers to indict Republican-led economic policies. “This morning’s jobs report confirms what most Americans already knew,” Nancy Pelosi, the House speaker, said in a statement. “President Bush’s economic policies have failed our country’s middle class.”

President Bush cautioned that “we can’t take economic growth for granted” and said he would work with Congress to be “more diligent” on protecting the economy. Speaking to reporters at the White House after a meeting with his economic advisers, Mr. Bush warned that “the worst thing the Congress could do is raise taxes on the American people.”

The lone consolation for investors, workers and the public at large was that the bad news seemed severe enough to prod the Fed to push its benchmark rate below its current 4.25 percent when policy makers meet at the end of the month. Lower interest rates decrease borrowing costs and encourage banks to lend more freely, spurring spending, hiring and investment.

The Fed has already eased rates three times since September in a bid to inject confidence into jittery markets. But analysts cautioned that central bankers may now feel constrained against further easing: inflation is growing, particularly as oil hovers near $100 a barrel. Lower interest rates, over time, can generate the seeds of inflation, and could make an already weak dollar worth less against foreign currencies.

“The Fed is trying to juggle a two-sided sword,” said Ryan Larson, senior equity trader at Voyageur Asset Management. “They’re trying to fight inflation moving higher and they’re trying to fight a slowdown in growth.”

In an effort to encourage lending, the Fed has been pumping cash through the banking system by auctioning off loans at discounted rates. On Friday, it said it would expand a pair of auctions scheduled for this month, offering $30 billion.

Some economists said the markets and other analysts were making too much of a lone jobs report that could yet be revised.

“The stock and bond markets are going into panic mode,” said Michael Darda, chief economist at MKM Partners, a research and trading firm in Greenwich, Conn. “We’re going to have a slowdown, but I don’t think we’re going to have a recession.”

While filings for jobless benefits have been rising in recent weeks, the pace has not been swift enough to justify such a sharp jump in the unemployment rate, Mr. Darda added.

For months, the economy had managed to grow vigorously despite worrying developments, from the unraveling of the housing industry to turmoil in the credit markets. Through it all, economists marveled at the resilience of the labor market, suggesting that as long as the economy kept creating jobs by the tens of thousands each month, Americans would keep spending and growth would carry on.

But the jobs report for December suggested that the negatives dogging the economy finally appear to be dragging it down.

“There’s no mystery as to why the unemployment rate went up,” said Robert A. Barbera, chief economist at the research firm ITG. “The mystery is why it took so long.”

December’s addition of 18,000 jobs to nonfarm payrolls was an abrupt drop from the 115,000 created in November — a figure revised on Friday from an initial estimate of 94,000. It put the annual rate of job growth at its lowest since 2004.

Some areas of the economy continued to expand, according to the report. Government jobs grew, and health care added 28,000 jobs. Food services added 27,000.

But that growth was largely reversed by pain elsewhere. Retailing lost 24,000 jobs in December. Financial services lost 7,000. Construction shed another 49,000 jobs. Even commercial construction, which some have suggested could compensate for woes among home builders, lost 17,000 jobs. Over all, private sector jobs slid by 13,000.

Despite a weak dollar, which has helped compensate for disappointment at home by lifting American sales abroad, the nation shed 31,000 manufacturing jobs in December.

For the third consecutive month, wages grew slower than the pace of inflation, cutting into the real income of many workers. Among rank-and-file workers, who make up more than four-fifths of the labor force, average hourly earnings rose 3.7 percent last year, below the 4.3 percent rise in 2006.

Job growth has been slowing steadily for two years. In 2005, the economy generated 212,000 new jobs a month, according to the Labor Department. Last year, the pace dropped to 122,000.

The spike in the unemployment rate, which was 4.7 percent in November, suggested that the deterioration of the job market is now accelerating.

Last year, companies fretted about business prospects amid falling housing prices and tightening credit. Many stopped hiring, but large-scale layoffs were rare. But now, some appear to have concluded that they can no longer tough it out.

“December’s bleak jobs report represents the siren call that this business cycle is just about over,” declared Bernard Baumohl, managing director at the Economic Outlook Group, in a note to clients. “We’re about to tilt over to the other side of the economic curve and begin the downsizing.”

In Penacook, N.H., the tilt came during the Christmas season: Riverside Millwork, a supplier of windows, doors and stair parts, laid off 43 people. That added to a wave of layoffs that has winnowed the staff from 225 to 40 since October 2005, when home building began its decline.

“We’ve cut just about everything that we can possibly cut,” said Larry Byer, the company’s human resource manager. “When you don’t have assets to sell or to keep you going, the bodies have to go.”

In calculating the rate of job growth, the Labor Department relies upon a sampling of payroll data and an extrapolation of how many jobs have been created and destroyed. An accompanying survey of households, used to calculate the unemployment rate, presented an even bleaker picture, showing that the number of Americans saying they were working plunged by 436,000 in December — the worst number in five years.

The trend was pronounced for teenagers, blacks and Hispanics, with unemployment among those groups jumping 0.6 percentage point, triple the increase for whites.

The household survey is notoriously volatile and treated with skepticism. But unlike the payroll data, it is not subject to revision, other than for seasonal factors, making it a better indicator when the economy is on the cusp of change, Mr. Barbera said.

Between December 2005 and December 2006, the household survey showed jobs increasing by 2.2 percent. Over the last year, jobs grew less than 0.2 percent.

“Every time we’ve gotten down to this level since 1956, there’s been a recession,” Mr. Barbera said.

The risk is that the weakening job market will swell from a symptom of malaise to a cause. As fewer jobs are created, spending power could dry up. Faced with declining business, employers could further trim payrolls. As unemployment grows, more homeowners could fall behind on mortgages, leading to more losses at banks, and more layoffs.

“The risk of a vicious cycle setting in now is very high,” Mr. Zandi said. “The job market’s operating at stall speed. Either it picks up soon or it quickly unravels.”


Edmund L. Andrews contributed reporting.

Unemployment Sounds Warning About Economy, NYT, 5.1.2008,






June 12 1934


Where love of home is tragic


From The Guardian Archive


June 12 1934

The Guardian


There is a fine 'gated' road over the fells which is used by tourists passing from Wastwater to Ennerdale Water. On a dry day you will find at each gate a little knot of young men who wait idly for hours in the hope of picking up a penny from a motorist. That is the only contact which a visitor to the Cumbrian Lakes is likely to have with that other Cumberland, which is one of the distressed areas now being vis ited by a Government commissioner.

Like much of the northeast coast and of South Wales, industrial Cumberland in its decline is illustration that there are few more rickety foundations on which to build a stable community than iron and coal.

The problem of Cumberland is principally due to the increased efficiency of modern production. Ten years ago there were iron-producing plants at Maryport, Harrington, Distington, and Cleator Moor as well as at Workington; now production is concentrated in this last town.

Cleator Moor grew up as an ironstone-mining centre. It was ill-built at a time when ugliness was unconsidered. The men have now no work to do and no prospect of obtaining any.

To the outside observer there would appear to be nothing to keep the unfortunate victims of the economic collapse of Cleator Moor from gladly accepting any opportunity of leaving the district. It is, however, home to its own people, and the many attempts which have been made to transfer workers to other districts have not been particularly successful. The Cleator Moor Labour Exchange area was scheduled as depressed in June, 1928. Until June, 1932, 556 men were found work outside the district. By the end of that period 445 of them had returned home.

In this experience Cleator Moor is not exceptional in Cumberland nor Cumberland among distressed areas. Men may be persuaded to move away if there is work for them to go to, although even then they sometimes find the new surroundings so strange and uncongenial that they will walk back home to unemployment. It seems almost impossible to persuade men to stay away once they fall out of employment.

A man, for instance, goes to work in Kettering. He loses his job and returns home. 'Where else should I go but home?' he asks. Yet the chances of getting work again in Kettering after an interval of unemployment are good; in Cumberland they are negligible.

The tragedy of a derelict area is that love of home, the English virtue, becomes a vice which must be extinguished if the people are not to perish.

David Ayerst

    From The Guardian Archive > June 12 1934,
    Where love of home is tragic, G,
    republished 12.6.2007, p. 34,






June 8, 1918


How to get a six-hour working day


From the Guardian archive


Saturday June 8, 1918



Lord Leverhulme [the soap magnate, philanthropist, founder of what is now Unilever] last night was the guest of the Manchester Rotary Club, and the chief subject of his address was the question of the six-hour working day.

He laid it down as a guiding principle that when the standing charges of an industry were equal to the wage bill, the change from eight to six hours could be made without loss, even though no increase resulted in the efficiency of the workers.

This was provided that the machinery was worked for two shifts. Where the standing charges were less than the wages, the change would lessen the cost of production. In the few industries, like agriculture, where the standing charges were more than the wage bill, we should have to wait for a fuller use of machinery.

As soon as most of our farming operations were done by machinery, agriculture would become an industry in which a reduction of hours must be made for economy's sake, because the best could not be got out of machinery by jaded labour.

As a concrete example of the effects likely to follow the change from a shift of eight hours to two of six, Lord Leverhulme took the cotton industry, which, he said, was not the most favourable case, because its standing charges and its wage bill were practically equal.

The change here, assuming the same wages for six hours as for eight and the same efficiency of workmanship, would result in an unchanged cost of production. But the whole history of industrial development and the experience of those who had recently made the experiment led to the belief that workpeople would produce about as much in a six- hour day as they produced in an eight-hour day.

If this was so, it would mean a saving in the cost of production which would enable the workman's wage to be raised 33 1/3 per cent and the price of the product to be reduced 20 per cent. The employer, he thought, would not need any of the money saved, because he would have increased his output without increasing his capital.

Under these conditions, Lancashire, even with an Indian tariff against it, could overcome all competition in the world's markets. The workmen in the cotton industry had blocked their way to shorter hours because they would not listen to the idea of two shifts.

The Mayor, Bishop Welldon and Mr. R. B. Stoker, M.P., were also guests of the Rotary Club.

From the Guardian archive > June 8, 1918 >
How to get a six-hour working day, G,
Republished 8.6.2006,






June 27 1917


The unrest among the engineers


From The Guardian archive


June 27 1917

The Guardian


North, south, east, and west I find that men are physically weary, nervously exhausted, and spiritually depressed. Although the number of active pacifists is negligible, there is everywhere a great longing for the end of the war and the return to peaceful ways.

The hours worked for nearly three years have been long. Seven shifts a week continue to be the rule in some places. I heard of one large works in Scotland where men are working 90 hours a week. A working week of from 70 to 80 hours is common.

The arrangement to pay men mealtimes in order to keep the machinery running incessantly involves taking food quickly and there is not even a dinner-hour relaxation of mind and body. The continuous strain has produced a chronic state of nerves. What I have described as spiritual depression may be in part a reaction from the physical condition.

It is also a consequence of the falling away of the ideals that swayed men's minds when the war began, and the obsession with the horrors of the conflict and the troubles of workshop and home. Desire for peace is very real, but it is a desire with little hope.

Perhaps the most difficult necessity is to promote confidence in the Government. The decision to abolish leaving certificates and to require arbitration awards to be made within a fortnight will ease two causes of irritation. If the Government will restore 'freedom of action' to trade unions they will probably get rid of many legitimate workshop grievances.

A change is coming over the mind of workers and new aspirations are shaping themselves. I could not fail to be impressed by the assumption everywhere that after the war the worker must have a real share in control of workshop conditions. This is a fixed and positive idea. There is in most localities an equally confident belief in the continuance of the shop stewards system. It will be necessary for unions to capture the shop stewards organisation or it will capture them.

One thing about which it is impossible to be definite is the influence that will spread in this country from the Russian revolution. Something will most surely come of it, and in an uncertain way one gets to feel that the forces which made for revolution in Russia are stirring here too, but vaguely.

However that may be, the plans that are made to allay unrest in the skilled engineering trades must take account not alone of particular grievances alleged, but also of the altered state of mind and the new thought among the workers.

JV Radcliffe

From The Guardian archive > June 27 1917 >
The unrest among the engineers, G,
republished 27.6.2007, p. 36,






September 9, 1893


Soldiers kill three miners in Pontefract


From the Guardian archive


Saturday September 9, 1893



The scene of the riots at Featherstone, near Pontefract, which extended until after midnight, was yesterday morning one of desertion and desolation. The town of Featherstone was almost all in mourning.

It was about nine o'clock on Thursday night when the South Staffordshire detachment first fired on the mobs which were besieging the colliery of Lord Masham and were charging the soldiers with stones. The first shot was only by one file of two men, and these did not take effect. Shortly before ten o'clock one section of the Staffordshires fired two volleys.

So far as could be ascertained seven of the mob were hit. James Gibbs, of Loscoe, was shot through the breast, and expired. James Perkins, knee shot away, died yesterday.

It was eleven o'clock on Thursday night before the Staffordshire were reinforced by detachments of Yorkshire Light Infantry and York and Lancaster Regiment, whose duty did not extend beyond that of keeping the crowd off the colliery premises.

Mr. Bernard Hartley, the magistrate who was pelted with stones whilst reading the Riot Act, was little the worse yesterday. Another death is now reported. The victim, one of the miners shot, named Tomlinson, was a Normanton man.


Throwing Away Sympathy

It is with a kind of despair that those who have hoped that this dispute might end with some concession on the part of the coal-owners now see a small reckless percentage of the colliers throwing away tactical advantages. Hitherto public sympathy has been remarkably evenly divided between the parties. The miners' refusal of arbitration has been resented by many; the abrupt and tactless demand of the coal-owners for a heavy [wage] reduction "in one piece" has been resented by about as many more.

But riots like this bring a mass of fresh public opinion to bear. The miners appear as wanton robbers and destroyers, the coal-owners as law-abiding men subjected to cruel injury.

For the sake of the miners and of trade unionism itself, we hope that every repetition of these blundering crimes will be repressed with more common sense than when soldiers were helplessly looking on for want of a magistrate to read the Riot Act.

· A sculpture was unveiled at Featherstone

in 1993 marking the centenary

of "the Featherstone massacre",

in which it says two miners died.

From the Guardian archive,
September 9, 1893 >
Soldiers kill three miners in Pontefract,
Republished 9.9.2006,






October 4, 1848


About the lamp

and scavenging committee


From the Guardian archive


Wednesday October 4, 1848



Mr. Whitworth's contract for cleaning the streets of the township of Manchester with his Machines having expired on Friday last, the hand-sweeping under the direction of the lamp and scavenging committee commenced on Saturday last.

There are, in all, 142 men employed under the direction of Mr. Wallworth, the superintendent. The township is divided into four districts, each of which is placed under the control of an inspector, and is divided again into three sections.

To each of these sections are allotted nine men:- one leader, two fillers, and six sweepers. Twenty carts, including four dust carts (in the early part of the morning), are employed in removing the sweepings, so that with the 20 carters thus employed, and with one grid-opener for the whole township, and with nine yardsmen (the same number as were employed during Mr. Whitworth's contract), the total number of the men employed under Mr. Wallworth is, as we have stated above, 142.

The men employed are able-bodied- men, selected by the committee, after a personal inspection, from about 500 applicants. Part of them were able-bodied paupers who have been accustomed to outdoor work.

There are also amongst them a number of night-soil men, who have been thrown out of employment by the corporation undertaking the emptying of the ashpits. Their wages are at present 11s. 9d. a week for leaders; 13s. 3d. for fillers and 12s. 6d. sweepers.

But we cannot help thinking that although the committee may obtain the services of able-bodied men for these wages in the present depressed state of the times, and general difficulty of finding employment, they will find it difficult to do so when the trade of the district is in a more favourable state.

The hours of labour of the scavengers will be from five o'clock in the morning till five o'clock in the evening, one hour being allowed for breakfast and another hour for dinner.

The committee have had under a trial a number of different patterns of brooms. The brush part of the one now in use is eighteen inches long, and is composed of four rows of the Brazilian weed used by Mr. Whitworth in his machines, set in a strong piece of wood.

It is so contrived that the handle may be fastened to either side of this, and that consequently the brush may be worn equally on both sides. Of the success or otherwise of these arrangements in preserving the cleanliness of the streets, it is, as yet, too early to speak.

From the Guardian archive,
October 4, 1848 >
About the lamp and scavenging committee,
Republished 4.10.2006,










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