Tuesday, January 28, 2003


Singles hit hardest by
job slump


A story published today by the Memphis Business Journal reports that a new analysis of government statistics shows the nation's unmarried masses are more than 60% more susceptible to long-term joblessness than married job seekers.

A combination of factors is disproportionately slowing the job searches of single job seekers, an analysis by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas says.

Those singles most affected likely include former high-tech workers, as 32% of all job cuts in 2002 came from that troubled sector; gays, widows and widowers, because of discrimination; young people with minimum work experience; single mothers seeking special work schedules to suit their circumstances; and small-town workers who have fewer options, Challenger says.

A study by Challenger of unpublished December employment data shows that singles represent 62% of the more than 1.8 Americans unemployed for 27 weeks or longer.

As of the December 2002 employment report, there are 1.86 million Americans who have been unemployed for 27 weeks or longer, the highest level since March 1994.

Unemployed singles include those never married and those who are divorced, widowed or separated.

This represents a significant increase from a decade ago, when the singles made up only 54% of those out of work for at least 27 weeks.

"The inability of these groups to find a job in a reasonable length of time, plus the fact that they do not have the emotional or financial support of a working spouse, could lead to a surge in the number of Americans forced to live in a state of poverty," says Challenger, Gray & Christmas CEO John Challenger.

Factors prolonging job searches for those in the high-tech sector include unrealistic expectations about salary and the type of company and atmosphere in which job seekers want to work, Challenger says. There's also the lack of job creation in this sector.

A few were able to cash in on some of their stock options before the collapse. These people, while looking for work, may not be searching as vigorously as those whose money has run out, he says.

"While some of these singles may have the temporary support of parents and/or unemployment benefits, these will only go so far and then the person may find himself or herself in dire straits financially," Challenger says.

"Already we are hearing from shelters and food depositories that they are seeing more young professionals and unmarried people who, a couple of years ago, never would have imagined needing such assistance."



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