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Rate of Job Loss Through Firm Restructurings Slows

August 23, 1996|From Washington Post

WASHINGTON — American workers are losing jobs in company restructurings at a slower pace than in previous years, the Labor Department reported Thursday.

From January 1993 to December 1995, 3.8 million workers lost a job they had held for three years or more for reasons relating to shifts in the U.S. economy, including plant closings or moves, the elimination of shifts and insufficient work to justify the job, according to a Bureau of Labor Statistics survey conducted in February.

The number was down from 4.5 million found in a similar survey in February 1994 that covered a partially overlapping period, January 1991 to December 1993.

The latest result was also lower than the 4 million workers displaced from January 1989 to the end of 1991. There is a one-year overlap in the periods covered by successive surveys.

The department credited the continuing economic recovery from the 1990-91 recession for most of the reduction in job losses.

The survey measures "long-tenured" workers 20 years of age or older who have held a job for at least three years and whose jobs have evaporated.

Many analysts and policymakers regard job losses among long-tenured workers as more harmful, particularly to older workers, than losses among workers who have been on the job for short periods. The latter typically are younger workers who can more readily find another comparable position.

The Clinton administration reacted cautiously to the news, as it has to many other reports showing the economy improving, because officials know many workers, even those who have not lost a job, are not necessarily happy with their economic situation or job prospects.

Joseph E. Stiglitz, chairman of the president's Council of Economic Advisors, said in a prepared statement, "While the decline in job dislocation is a positive trend, the report also confirms that some American workers who lose their jobs remain unemployed and, for those who do find new jobs, many experience a drop in earnings."

Of the 3.8 million long-tenured displaced workers, 73% had found a new job by last February. Thirteen percent were still unemployed and the remaining 14% had dropped out of the labor force.

For those 55 or older, many had retired.

Those figures were improvements over the findings of the February 1994 survey. Of the 4.5 million workers displaced in 1991-93, 68% had a new job, 19% were unemployed and the rest were no longer in the work force.

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