A notable quirk emerged in the Labor Day story by my colleague Mara Lee, “Laid-Off Workers Struggle to Rebound.”
The story documents the plight of workers who lost their jobs from 2009 to 2011, many of whom have not found full-time work. The federal government surveys so-called displaced workers, who lost jobs because their “plant or company closed or moved, there was insufficient work for them to do, or their position or shift was abolished,” as the U.S. Department of Labor defines them.
It’s worth pointing out that two of the workers in Mara’s story lost jobs at companies that have been growing strongly in Connecticut: Judy Williams at Oakleaf Waste Management and Rick Zablocki at ESPN.
This is a reminder of yet another stressful force in today’s economy — even firms that are adding jobs overall, tend to lay off people in areas where they don’t need the work. The layoffs for Willams and Zablocki were not just a few people, but 49 at Oakleaf, which was about 8 percent of its staff at the time, and 2oo at ESPN.
Oakleaf, now owned by the national firm Waste Management Inc., took a $3 million state package in 2010 to move to Windsor and save jobs, and is expected to grow to 600 local employees this year. ESPN was the second of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy’s “First Five” companies, and its staff has been growing consistently to more than 4,000, with the possible exception of 2009.
A generation ago, layoffs happened at companies that were mired in hard times and had to cut costs overall. Then in the late ’80s and ’90s, big firms got the bright idea that they could, and should, lay off sections of people they didn’t need, even when they were hiring elsewhere.
More efficiency for the economy. More upended lives.
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