He holds a doctorate from the University of Wisconsin - Madison in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences where he developed a 3-D ocean model on a custom computing platform.
It was uncertain when airlines would be permitted to start flying again—or how many customers would be on them.
So almost immediately, all the U. Today the one airline that didn't cut staff, Southwest, still has never had an involuntary layoff in its almost year history. It's now the largest domestic U.
As its former head of human resources once told me: The unemployment rate dipped in January, from 10 percent to 9.
There are currently Companies have always cut back on workers during economic downturns, but over the last two decades layoffs have become an increasingly common part of corporate life—in good times as well as bad.
Companies now routinely cut workers even when profits are rising. Some troubled industries seem to be in perpetual downsizing mode; the U. There are circumstances in which layoffs are necessary for a firm Negative externalities essay survive. If your industry is disappearing or permanently shrinking, layoffs may be necessary to adjust to the new market size, something occurring right now in newspapers.
Sometimes changes in technology or competitors' embrace of cheaper overseas labor makes downsizing feel like the only alternative.
But the majority of the layoffs that have taken place during this recession—at financial-services firms, retailers, technology companies, and many others—aren't the result of a broken business model. They're cutting jobs to minimize hits to profits, not to ensure their survival.
As for firms that have no choice but to cut jobs, if your company is the 21st-century equivalent of the proverbial buggy-whip industry, don't fool yourself—downsizing will only postpone, not prevent, your eventual demise. For many managers, these actions feel unavoidable.
But even if downsizing, right-sizing, or restructuring choose your euphemism is an accepted weapon in the modern management arsenal, it's often a big mistake. In fact, there is a growing body of academic research suggesting that firms incur big costs when they cut workers.
Some of these costs are obvious, such as the direct costs of severance and outplacement, and some are intuitive, such as the toll on morale and productivity as anxiety "Will I be next?
But some of the drawbacks are surprising.
Much of the conventional wisdom about downsizing—like the fact that it automatically drives a company's stock price higher, or increases profitability—turns out to be wrong.
There's substantial research into the physical and health effects of downsizing on employees—research that reinforces the seemingly hyperbolic notion that layoffs are literally killing people.
There is also empirical evidence showing that labor-market flexibility isn't necessarily so good for countries, either. A recent study of 20 Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development economies over a year period by two Dutch economists found that labor-productivity growth was higher in economies having more highly regulated industrial-relations systems—meaning they had more formal prohibitions against the letting go of workers.
In the last decade layoffs have become America's export to the world. At a conference in Stockholm a few years ago, business executives told me that to become as competitive as America, Sweden needed to make it easier to lay people off.
In Japan, lifetime employment, which never applied to most of the labor market, is under attack.
There are daily calls for European countries to follow the U. It's difficult to study the causal effect of layoffs—you can't do double-blind, placebo-controlled studies as you can for drugs by randomly assigning some companies to shed workers and others not, with people unaware of what "treatment" they are receiving.
Companies that downsize are undoubtedly different in many ways the quality of their management, for one from those that don't.
But you can attempt to control for differences in industry, size, financial condition, and past performance, and then look at a large number of studies to see if they reach the same conclusion.
That research paints a fairly consistent picture:The new spotlight on these companies doesn’t come out of nowhere. They sit, substantively, at the heart of the biggest and most pressing issues facing the United States, and often stand on the less popular side of those: automation and inequality, trust in public life, privacy and security.
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