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Still Rusty

October 23, 1988

Without knocking the contribution that the renaissance of the Rust Bowl makes to our economy or to those currently employed there, I wonder if the social and economic costs of the "rusting" have ever engaged the attention of the economists who attempt to measure the nation's industrial health or those who report on that health. ("Nation's Industrial Engine Fired Up by Cheaper Dollar," Business, Oct. 9).

Does the present low unemployment rate mean that most of those laid off are now back at work? Has anyone factored in the very real economic costs of long-term unemployment? Are the changes in wage structure in the steel and auto industries reflected in the money that engineering and management personnel can command? Can families generally afford to buy homes? Are employee health plans on a par with those offered (for example) by California industry?

It seems to me that these are valid questions whose answers would flesh out the story of economic resurrection.

JANET V. KELBLEY

Palos Verdes

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