Companies likely to retain current workers
Molly Davis, Staff Writer
Posted: 02/27/2011 08:14:31 PM PST

People can begin to feel some relief after recent reports suggest that layoffs have declined for now.

Economists agree that businesses are less likely to make staff cuts, while unemployment figures are not expected to drop.

According to findings from Chicago-based outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, companies announced plans in January to cut fewer than 39,000 jobs this year, 46 percent fewer than last year. For all of 2010, planned layoffs hit a 13-year low, the firm said.

“Companies are working hard to keep the cream of the crop,” said George Huang, economist for the San Bernardino County Economic Development Agency.

And “people don’t want to take chances,” he said, explaining that the
employed are less likely to make changes that could affect their employment, like move or startup businesses.

In a recent report for the EDA, Huang said that job recovery will likely be “long and tedious,” with potential impacts like loss of skills, work habits and work ethics.

Huang said that in the last several years, companies forced to cut staff “got rid of the people they don’t need.”

When the sales return, companies find that they can operate with a “skeleton crew,” he said. As a result, some companies don’t want to hire even if employees are needed.

Local data supports this theory. Steve Carrasco, branch manager for Arrow Staffing in Redlands, said that although there is hiring, most positions are “projects,” and there are very few temp-to-hire positions available.

He said that “there are few people currently with jobs that are looking” for other opportunities.

People “are pretty much holding on to what they have,” Carrasco said.

Occupations with the fastest job growth since 2008 in San Bernardino County are personal and home-care aides, medical sciences, data communications analysis, physician assistants and machine workers, according to data from the Employment Development Department.

Conversely, construction in the county has dropped nearly 10 percent since December 2009, or 1,300 jobs, a February report from the county said.

Currently, the county has seen a drop in its unemployment rate, from 14 percent in November, to 13.7 percent in December, the most current numbers available.

While the employed can feel some confidence in their status, the unemployed will have to keep working at competing with the masses of fellow unemployed people.

“Given the high unemployment rate and increase in the number of job seekers, employers have the ability to be more selective and some don’t have to advertise their openings as they have in the past,” said Christine Taitano, director of student services for the University of Redlands’ School of Business.

Taitano said that her advice to job seekers would be to “do your research on the job market. Learn which industries and companies are hiring and which positions are they hiring for.”

She also advised people to be resourceful in searching by staying involved in professional organizations and community events, and to network with former co-workers and classmates.

She recommended that people learn who the “key players” are in a company, and tailor resumes to specific jobs.

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