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Fortunately, she had heeded the advice to continue networking and
was able to move on to a new job, almost seamlessly, but she remains
skeptical about the ability of supervisors to foresee the future. “When
they need to fire you,” she told me, “management often makes quick
decisions. Program or front-line staff is cut first. Because mid-level man-
agers haven't been privy to higher level budget discussions, it often comes
as a shock.” Ms. Elefson told me her supervisor “drove two hours and
cried when she told me I was being terminated. She said that it was the
most difficult thing she had done in 30 years as a professional.”
To add to the emotional impact of unemployment, the study reported
by Deprez (September 3, 2009, p. 1) found that many of the laid off
workers had no advanced information about their job security and conse-
quently had little time to prepare emotionally or financially. The report
notes that:
￿ 60% of the respondents received no advance warning of their layoff;
￿ 84% received no severance package or other compensation;
￿ 43% of those unemployed reported having received unemployment
benefits in the past year;
￿ 61% described themselves as “very concerned” their benefits would
expire before they found a job.
To further complicate matters, the average wage of US workers has
not been keeping pace. In 1997, the average wage in the United States
was 11th-highest among all nations. The difference between the highest
wage country, Switzerland, and the United States was $7.00 an hour. In
December, 2011 the United States had slipped to 14th among all nations
but the differential between the country with the highest hourly wage,
Norway ($57.53/hour), and the United States ($34.74/hour) was fully
$22.79 an hour ( Bureau of Labor Statistics, December, 2011 ). Part of the
cost per hour differential is related to benefits. In European countries the
average benefit is 40% of compensation whereas in the United States it is
33%, leaving a much greater amount of direct costs to US workers in
health insurance, lower vacation and sick days allowed, and benefits we
have never seen in the United States, including 35-hour work-weeks and
up to 9 months in leave to care for newly born children.
Writing for Ya h o o F i n a n c e , Snyder (July 15, 2010) believes that the
middle class is not only being systematically wiped out of existence in
America, but that more American workers are actually moving into
poverty because of
low wages, and provides
the following data as
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