Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review has been on the web since 1995. See main page for full contents

June 13, 2009


Dennis Cauchon, USA Today - People who still have jobs are faring worse than at any time since the Great Depression, a USA Today analysis of employment data found. Furloughs, pay cuts and reduced hours are taking a toll on workers who so far have escaped job cuts.

The employed worked fewer hours in May - an average of just 33.1 hours a week - than at any time since the Bureau of Labor Statistics began counting in 1964. Part-time work is at a record high. Overtime is at a record low.

The magnitude of job losses - 6 million jobs gone, a 9.4% unemployment rate - has overshadowed the groundbreaking nature of the nation's employment troubles, especially the financial decline of those still working.

"You can rip a whole chapter out of your Economics 101 textbook because the job market isn't behaving the way we were taught," says David Rosenberg, chief economist at money manager Gluskin Sheff and Associates.

Businesses cut total wages at a 6.2% annual rate in the first quarter. Federal, state and local governments increased spending on wages by 6.1%, offsetting some of the decline.

The use of pay cuts - the last choice at most companies after hiring freezes, salary freezes and layoffs - shows how the recession is unlike any since the Depression, says Laura Sejen of compensation consultant Watson Wyatt.

"The recession has been broad, deep and long. No one has been immune," she says.

Baby boomers- 79 million people born from 1946 to 1964 - have been hit particularly hard.


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