October 22, 1997 in Nation/World

Layoff Trend Starting To Improve Survey Shows Decrease In Downsizing, Upswing In Hiring By U.S. Corporations

Maggie Jackson Associated Press
 

Downsizing is on the decline.

After years of widespread layoffs and shake-ups, companies are once again hiring, according to a nationwide survey released Tuesday that found downsizing and job cuts at their lowest levels of the 1990s.

That’s not to say all jobs are safe. Thirteen percent of the 1,200 companies surveyed by the American Management Association are firing workers, and a third of companies are both firing and hiring.

Still, the specter of downsizing is receding. Those companies surveyed created an average of 110 new jobs while eliminating 57, and their payrolls grew 6.9 percent in the year ending in June.

“We had to go through a long dark night where there was an emphasis on cost-control, cost-reduction and staff-reduction,” said Eric Rolfe Greenberg, director of management studies at the New York-based association. “Ultimately, companies found that there was more to doing business than cutting costs.”

The sweeping job cuts that were part of the downsizing era left few workers unaffected. Nearly 40 percent of companies cut jobs in three or more years since 1990, according to the survey.

The changes left even surviving workers with a sense of insecurity - as well as mounting work loads. And workers are still licking their wounds: witness such popular books as “Healing the Downsized Organization” by Delorese Ambrose or “Climb a Fallen Ladder” by Rochelle H. Gordon and Catherine E. Harold.

Now, times are better.

Companies reporting job cuts have shrunk to 41 percent this year from 56 percent in 1991, the management association reported. Companies that downsized - or decreased their total work force - fell to 19 percent from 43 percent in the same periods.

Some of the same forces spurring job cuts - re-engineering and automation - now are causing hiring, Greenberg noted.

Technical advances have prompted hiring at Xerox, where 12,000 jobs were cut from 1993 to 1995 from a work force of 97,000.

In the last two years, the company has added 4,000 jobs, mostly in sales and in Xerox Business Services, which runs the in-house printing and copying operations of other companies.

Nationwide, 32 percent of jobs cut in the past year were managers and supervisors, while only 14 percent were professionals and technicians, according to the survey, which focused on companies with revenues of $10 million or more. It had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.5 percentage points.

Even companies that have been in the headlines with announcements of job cuts are still quietly hiring.

AT&T;, a company practically synonymous with downsizing after its job cuts of the 1990s, has hired 3,000 workers since the end of 1996.

Eastman Kodak, burdened by a film-price war with Japanese company Fuji, said recently it would eliminate 200 management jobs and 10 percent of its administrative staff worldwide.

Yet the company is still hiring professional and technical workers for its efforts in the emerging field of digital photography.


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