- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 27, 2003

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Nearly one in five workers have been laid off since 2000, and two-thirds of them received no severance or other compensation from their employers, a new survey shows.

Of those who lost their jobs, 49 percent of those who earned $40,000 or more annually said they received unemployment insurance. For those who made less than $40,000 a year, the number with unemployment insurance shrank to 35 percent.

“There’s neither private-sector nor government support that’s going to most people,” said Carl van Horn, director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers, which conducted the study.

The study, titled “The Disposable Worker: Living in a Job-Loss Economy,” randomly targeted 1,015 working-age adults.

Barely one-fourth of those surveyed said their employers extended their health care benefits after they were laid off, and fewer than one-fifth said they received help finding jobs, career counseling or skills training.

Mr. van Horn said he and other economists disagreed with the proclamation made July 17 by the National Bureau of Economic Research that the recession that started in March 2001 ended in November 2001 — an eight-month duration.

“There are still a lot of people unemployed,” he said. “If you’re a typical person and not an economist, you don’t really care about the [gross domestic product].”

Businesses continue to announce thousands of layoffs. The national unemployment rate hit a nine-year high of 6.4 percent in June, and many economists think it could hit 6.6 percent before starting to decline, which probably won’t be until at least the end of this year.

In addition, workers are remaining unemployed longer than in previous recessions, said Mr. van Horn and the study’s co-author, Kenneth Dautrich, director of Connecticut’s Center for Survey Research and Analysis.

Thirty percent of those surveyed received only one to two weeks’ notice their job was being cut, and 34 percent had no warning.

The survey also found that 40 percent of those who lost their jobs worried it would happen again in the next three to five years.

Since James Malloy, 58, was laid off as a truck driver in September 2000, he has washed cars and mowed lawns, then worked part time for the Durham, N.C., transit company with no benefits to keep up with his mortgage and car loan.

“I was just scratching for pennies. It was tough times,” said Mr. Malloy, whose brother also hasn’t had steady work for about three years.

Married with two grown children, Mr. Malloy finally found a full-time supervisory job working nights with the transit system on July 1. But a new company just took over the transit system and quickly cut four of its 130 jobs.

Does he feel secure? “Not very,” Mr. Malloy said.

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