October 19, 2009

JOBS ARE A SOCIAL PHENOMENON, NOT AN ECONOMIC ONE:

Employers Hold Off on Hiring (TIMOTHY AEPPEL and CONOR DOUGHERTY, 10/20/09, WSJ)

Businesses also face uncertainty about the potential costs of regulatory moves -- such as an expansion of health care and climate legislation -- that could drive up costs. And many employers have learned how to produce more with a smaller number of people than they previously thought possible.

That is what happened at D'Addario & Co. in Farmingdale, N.Y., one of the world's leading producers of guitar strings. [...]

[Chief Executive James] D'Addario sees no reason to start hiring. He shed 150 workers and cut hours during the darkest days of the slump, bringing the head count down to 950. A host of efficiency moves -- such as teaching many workers to inspect their own work, which let D'Addario go from 17 inspectors to 10 -- has saved so much labor that there's no need to hire now. "I estimate we can produce 15% to 20% more with the same number of people," he said.

The same story is being repeated across the economy -- in factories, hotels and banks.

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 19, 2009 7:58 PM
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