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Layoffs and Their Consequences
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Cover The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences
Publisher: Random House Inc
Publish date:
Mar 2006

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The Disposable American documents the ways in which layoffs are counterproductive, rarely promoting efficiency or profitability in the long term. There is something fundamentally wrong with America's whole acceptance of large-scale lay-offs as a necessary part of "staying competitive in a global economy." Instead it encourages wasteful mergers, outsourcing and the shifting of production abroad. In the long run, large-scale lay-offs are merely a blatant shift of millions of dollars to the corporate coffers of the already obscenely overpaid CE0s.

Uchitelle, an award--winning business reporter for the New York Times details how entire classes of people are being caught in a new trend of "downward mobility." It is impossible not to be touched by Uchitelle's many real-life tales of sacked workers who, through no fault of their own, were thrown into an economic and psychological maelstrom with weak or nonexistent safety nets to help them and their families.

By describing the significant psychological damage that the trauma of a layoff invariably inflicts--even on those soon re-employed--Uchitellee shatters the widely held myth that layoffs are ultimately good for the economy; that in America there is always work, and good pay, for the educated and skilled; and that new training creates jobs

The failure of these policies in destroying the notion of job security and the dignity of work is damage that, multiplied over millions of layoffs, is silently undermining the nation’s mental health.

At least 30 million full-time American employees have gotten pink slips since the Labor Department belatedly started to count them in 1984. But add in the early retirees, the "quits" who saw the layoffs coming, and the number is much higher — a whole ghost nation trekking into what for most will be lower-wage work. This is the Dust Bowl in our Golden Bowl, and to Mr. Uchitelle, layoffs in one way are worse than the unemployment of the 1930's. At least then, most of the jobless came back to better-paid, more secure jobs. Those laid off in our time almost never will.

A Timeline of Layoffs in the United States