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Timesizing News, February 1-14, 2003
[Commentary] ©2003 Phil Hyde, Timesizing.com, Box 622, Porter Sq, Cambridge MA 02140 USA 617-623-8080


2/14/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -

2/13/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - 2/12/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - nothing current, so we dip into the barrel of late arrivals - 2/11/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. [in the course of skuffling around to front Sunday's big worksharing story in the Globe, we came up with -]
    States with worksharing programs, *webpage by Information Technology Support Center, last updated 8/01/02, sponsored by US Dept. of Labor.
    [This could be the revelation that gives the shorter worktime (SWT) movement the "jump to warp speed" that would be nice ahead of Oct. 24's Take Back Your Time Day.] [If you're wondering how come there are suddenly 18+35= 53 states here, it's because they have included DC (Washington), PR (Puerto Rico) and VI (US Virgin Islands) in the count.   Anyway, 18 is 36% of the 50 states, which is pretty impressive: AR, AZ, CA, CT, FL, IA, KS, MA, MD, MN, MO, NV, NY, OR, RI, TX, VT, WA. The *State of Massachusetts' worksharing webpage (MA) is pretty cool, and we have put it and this general page at the top of our links page. We will be endeavoring to come up with a few more states' worksharing webpages for our links as time goes on, but if any of you keen worksharers out there come up with even just one more, puhleez let us know at timesizing@aol.com .]

  2. New York arts being cut back in money pinch...- Money squeeze is pinching arts groups in New York - An economic engine, choked for fuel, begins to cough and sputter, by Robin Pogrebin, NYT, front page & C22.
    ...The Staten Island Historical Society [SIHS], an outdoor living history site [huh?], recently announced a 20% paycut and reduction in workhours for its employees and is contemplating closing completely. "I'm holding off as long as I can," said John Guild, the executive director....
    [Looks like exactly what we've been recommending. Instead of a 20% jobcut, the SIHS is doing a 20% hourscut with prorated pay, to hold out against downsizing or completely closing for as long as possible. Timesizing, not downsizing. Unspecified jobs saved - so far.]

2/09/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - 1,400 jobs saved -
  1. Program helps firms avert layoffs - DET's WorkSharing lets firms cut hours rather than jobs, by Alan Earls (alanearls@attbi.com), Boston Sunday Globe, G1, highlighted by colleague Kate.
    ...More information about WorkSharing is available at *www.detma.org/worksharing..\..
    Bill Sebell, VP of operations at MSM Industries in North Reading MA, says WorkSharing gave the company some breathing room. Paul Borque runs MSM's machine shop..\.. [photo caption]
    A computer company. A travel agency. A manufacturing firm.
    Companies like these are among a growing number of Massachusetts businesses that have turned to an obscure state program in hopes of weathering the uncertain economic climate without resorting to layoffs.
    Administered by the [Massachusetts] state Division of Employment & Training [DET], WorkSharing lets companies cut hours rather than jobs and allows workers to regain some of the wages lost when their hours are curtailed by letting them collect unemployment insurance benefits [UI].
    [Aside from being a perfectly respectable transitional form of timesizing, not downsizing, there is an entire semi-scholarly book on this specialized form of worksharing = "Reducing Workweeks to Prevent Layoffs - The Economic and Social Impacts of Unemployment Insurance-Supported Work Sharing," by Fred Best (Temple University Press: Philadelphia, 1988).]
    With its promise of helping to keep people working - and allowing employers to avoid the disruptions associated with a traditional layoff - WorkSharing has been garnering a lot more attention recently. "Particularly for smaller companies, their success is tied up in their people," said Julie Scofield, exec. dir. of the Smaller Business Assoc. of New England. "This is a very innovative way of helping companies to cope and retain their employees."
    [Check it out. Olde France implemented a more primitive form of timesizing that turns off small companies and New England implemented a less primitive version that turns them on.]
    During 2002 according to the DET, there were about 200 employers enrolled in WorkSharing.
    [This is almost twice the number of employers (105) taking advantage of the Robien Law ("cut 10-15% of your workweek & hire {or avoid laying off} 10-15% of your workforce and we'll give you taxbreaks") in Jan/97 in the whole of France! - granted that was just after its first six months of operation whereas Massachusetts' WorkSharing program has been offered for roughly 12 years now. We have the impression it was started under Gov. Dukakis - guess he was still in office in 1992, the year when Big Red was elected to take office in '93. The Dems disgraced themselves by putting up John Silber, so the GOP won with Bill "Big Red" Weld. Then Weld would have come up for re-election again 6 yrs later in '98, but by then he dropped out to run for Senate against Kerry in '96, only to have his butt kicked. Weld turned over the reigns to Celucci, whom everyone thought had been "doin' the heavy lifting" anyway - until he took office. So who ran against "Celooch" in '98? - oh yeah, musta been Harshbarger, a quality guy whom Mass. voters didn't have the sense to elect, and so Celooch also quit midterm to afflict Canada as ambassador once Dubya seized office & appointed him, and we were left with Swiftie and her babysitting problems. And still nobody to reign in Finneran as he developed serious overreach from his perch as majority leader in the Mass. House. Well, this is all "muttynik" = MTYNK = More Than You Need to Know - but it may be a useful antidote to the creeping romanticism of all you French folks that we know are reading this and theenkeeng, "Sacré blue, zee New Eengland state of - 'ow yoo say eet - Massashoocess - sounds sooo lawvlee an' forward-theenkeeng." Back to the point -]
    So far, the level of participation looks similar for 2003.
    [A constant stream of new participants is necessary to make this statement, because presumably one of the limitations of the approach is the fact that it is limited to the same maximum durations as UI benefits; for example, in Mass., 26 weeks normally or that plus a 10?-week extension by special federal tweaking during recessions as now. Oops, later in the article we learn that Massachusetts' version of unemployment WorkSharing program can be extended another full half-year.]
    But through the early part of 2001, WorkSharing, which was born during the state's last big recession in 1990-91, had as few as a dozen or so companies enrolled.
    DET director Jack King said WorkSharing hadn't received much focus during the later half of the 1990s when the state unemployment rate dropped to record lows. However, as unemployment rose during 2001, the DET decided to update and modernize WorkSharing with Web-based applications and record-keeping to help companies adopt it more easily. "We put in place a staff of professionals to focus just on WorkSharing," said King.
    [Hey, maybe Phil Hyde's "Timesizing, Not Downsizing" candidacy against Ted Kennedy in 2000 did some good after all.]
    Now, according to spokeswoman Linnea Walsh, DET is promoting the program to business groups such as chambers of commerce and human resources [HR] associations. WorkSharing is even available to government agencies.
    Under WorkSharing regulations, reductions in hours worked must be implemented across an entire business unit or company in accordance with a plan approved by the state [of Massachusetts]. The reduction in hours may range from 10% to 60%. Then, for up to six months, employees are paid a percentage of what their unemployment checks would have been had they been let go - with benefits calculated using an average of their earlier, higher earnings. The percentage of unemployment benefits they receive under WorkSharing is equal to the amount their hours are reduced. The company can also apply to continue the program for an additional six months.
    [Hey, we're going to have the Japanese over here studying the Massachusetts' worksharing system instead of the German systems if we're not careful! See 1/15/2002 #2.]
    The program doesn't significantly lessen the potential benefits available to the individual. According to DET a UI claim is normally good for 52 weeks. If a WorkSharing participant has been on the program for that whole timespan, their claim will expire. However, if they are then laid off, they can file a new claim for UI [benefits] with their rate of compensation based on the previous four completed quarters of work - including any time spent using WorkSharing. Although the unemployment compensation they are then entitled to might be slightly lower, reflecting the lower pay they received while participating in WorkSharing, it would be...undiminished in duration....
    According to DET, WorkSharing is a cost-effective alternative to layoffs. "It is more beneficial and less expensive for the state to pay out partial unemployment benefits as part of WorkSharing than [to] have to pay out full benefits to someone laid-off altogether," said [DET spokeswoman] Walsh.
    WorkSharing, like regular unemployment benefits, draws funding from the Unemployment Trust Fund, paid for by employers through a special tax. As of Oct. 31, 2002, the [Massachusetts] fund balance stood at $1.089 billion. The program is not hurting the fund's viability, said economist Andre Mayer of the Associated Industries of Massachusetts, an industry group.
    [So is use of the WorkSharing program being taught yet in Massachusetts business schools!?! - like the Harvard Business School and Sloan School at MIT...?!? Are students even being alerted to it and programs like it?]
    Still, [Mayer] admitted the amount of money available in the trust fund is down by roughly half over the past two years - a pattern that he said is considered normal for a recession. ...Rep. Michael Rodrigues, a Westport Democrat and vice chairman of the Committee on Commerce and Labor, said that while he supports the goal of WorkSharing [the end and not the means?], the status of the trust fund needs to be closely monitored over the coming year. "It could be down to only $500m by the end of this year - we may have to look at its funding mechanism," he warned.
    [Where are we going to get the money for vital programs like this? Well, as Will Rogers answered back in the Great Depression when he was asked this question, "I guess we're going to get it from the rich - they're the only ones that have any."]
    More information about WorkSharing is available at *www.detma.org/worksharing.
    [Here's an ad that the Dept. placed on the Metro South Chamber of Commerce *News Report for Dec/2001 -]
    WorkSharing:
    The Smart Alternative to Layoffs
    How to reduce your payroll costs and retain your workforce...
    At some point, temporary business slowdowns affect most businesses and industries. Participation in Massachusetts’ WorkSharing Program is your alternative to layoffs that are no doubt disruptive for you as an employer and your workforce. WorkSharing allows workers - in an entire company, a company department, or a small unit within the company - to share reduced work hours while also collecting unemployment insurance benefits to supplement their reduced wages.
    By participating in WorkSharing, you: Under WorkSharing, employees collect a percentage of their unemployment insurance benefits equal to the percentage of the reduction in their wages and hours and avoid layoff. The decrease in the normal weekly hours must be shared equally by all workers in the unit(s) you have defined. The reduction in hours may range from 10 to 60 percent.
    All Massachusetts employers are eligible to participate in the WorkSharing Program. This includes both large corporations with hundreds of workers and businesses with only two employees, non-profits as well as for profit, and governmental entities. Any workers who would be eligible to receive regular unemployment insurance benefits are eligible to participate in the WorkSharing Program. However, seasonal layoffs are not covered.
    To learn more about WorkSharing or to obtain an application for approval, call the Massachusetts Division of Employment and Training at 617-626-5510 or visit www.detma.org and click on WorkSharing.

  2. Leave law on brink of change - Groups propose to change scope of the FMLA, by Diane Lewis, Boston Globe, G1, flagged by colleague Kate.
    ...Since the FMLA [Family & Medical Leave Act] became law a decade ago, 35m US workers at companies with 50 or more employees have exercised their right to take up to 12 weeks unpaid leave for family or medical matters such as caring for a newborn or sick relative, according to the US Labor Dept.
    [This subsidy for reproduction during an age of overpopulation, or alternatively a subsidy for sickness, would largely become moot and unnecessary if our workweek had been automatically adjusting against all forms of unemployment over the last 63 years instead of finding itself frozen at 40 hrs/wk. And, of course, shorter worktime should be available to all employees, not just employees with children. We learn from "On the margins of love," by Donovan Slack, Boston Globe, City 1, that "more than half the city's population [is] unmarried and 37% [is] living alone." In "Charlestown MA - For townies, a family passing," by Jeff Lemberg, 2/09/2003 Boston Globe, City 1, Fran Murphy of Murphy & Turnbull Funeral Home says, "This was a working-class family-oriented community. Now, it's more single business people. It's never going to be what it was." Yet what are our unions and other workplace advocates wasting their time on?]
    Now, with supporters marking FMLA's 10th anniversary last week, change is in the air. Unions and other workplace advocates are backing a proposal that would make millions of additional workers eligible for leave by expanding the law to include employers with [as few as] 25 workers. They are also pushing to tap state unemployment insurance [UI] or temporary disability insurance to make paid leave available to all employees, including the working poor.
    [Except for the fundamental objection to designing this for reproduction and sickness, the idea of linking it to UI is a good one, and has received book-length treatment in Fred Best's "Reducing Unemployment to Prevent Layoffs: The economic and social impacts of unemployment insurance-supported work sharing" (Temple, 1988).]
    The push for expansion comes at a time when the business community is [faced with recession and] demanding change too. Concerned that workers are using the law to justify time off for minor ailments, US employers have asked the Bush administration to revise some of the FMLA's rules. They want the scope of the law narrowed so that it covers only serious illnesses. Right now, they say, even the common cold could be used as a ruse to skip work.
    [Until labor gets together and presses for automatic overtime-to-training conversion and flexible adjustment of the workweek against comprehensive unemployment across each state and then across the nation to restore their bargaining power by transforming a perceived labor glut into a shortage, these penny-ante unstrategic demands will just eat away their credibility and hold up human progress.]
    ...Said Sandra Reynolds, senior VP of Associated Industries of Massachusetts, a trade group that represents more than 6,000 companies statewide, "Most employers have no problem accepting time off for serious conditions. It is the less serious conditions - the cold or the flu - that cause confusion."...

2/07/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope -
  1. At NASA assembly plant, workers fear the loss of a shuttle will also mean the loss of jobs, by Edward Wong, NYT, A21.
    NEW ORLEANS -...For more than 40 years, this plant, the Michoud Assembly Facility, has been tied to the country's space program. Public scrutiny of the factory has waned since NASA officials backed away Wednesday from the theory that insulation foam from the external fuel tanks produced here could have caused the Columbia's destruction on Saturday.... ...Though the plant is owned by NASA, it is the Lockheed Martin Corp. that operates it and employs its 2,000 workers.... Despite the inquiry's change of direction, NASA officials continued looking into production here [yester]day, roaming through parts of the plant used for mixing polyurethane foam insulation and spraying it onto the exterior of the external tanks. Those areas are shut down now; the 200 people who worked in them have been sent for training, temporarily reassigned or asked to take vacation....
    [This is probably the most primitive kind of timesizing, not downsizing.]

  2. Fourth-period net soared 62% on higher prices, lower costs, Dow Jones via WSJ, B5.
    Nucor Corp., the nation's 2nd-largest steelmaker behind U.S. Steel Corp., said Q4 profit jumped 62% due to higher steel prices, increased shipments and lower scrap-metal costs.
    [Nucor is one of our two main working models of flexible adjustment of the workweek, alias timesizing.]
    ...The Charlotte NC company...posted net income of $42.9m, or 55 cents a share, compared with $26.5m, or 34 cents a share, a year earlier. Shipments rose 18% and prices climbed 7% a ton compared with the year-earlier period. The latest results include a state income-tax credit of $16.2m and a $20.2m gain from the sale of Nucor Iron Carbide Inc. Sales rose 26% to $1.23B from $979.6m a year earlier.... In 4 pm NYSE composite trading, Nucor rose $2.13, or 5.9% to $38.11.
    [If there are any safe investments as American and foreign CEOs downsize their way into the Great Depression II, Nucor and Lincoln Electric are them.]

2/06/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - 2/05/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - 2/04/2003  primitive timesizing in the news, aka glimmers of strategic hope - 2/01-03/2003  timesizing consciousness in the news, aka flickerings of strategic hope -
  1. ["Conservative" Bush is so rapidly destroying so much that supports American living standards that, who knows, maybe average Americans, who under the Dems behaved like the "frog in the water" that only graaadually luuullingly came to a boil, will now wake up and save themselves. But with the kind of media go-along-to-git-along that we've got today, don't count on it.]
    2/02   Bush Rule Change Could End Some Overtime, by Leigh Strope, AP 02/01/03 09:15 EST via AOLNews, 'article catch' credit to reader Kurt Cagle.
    WASHINGTON - A Bush administration overhaul of decades-old labor regulations could force many Americans to work longer hours without overtime pay.
    The administration argues that the pillars of American labor law, which established the 40-hour work week, a minimum wage and overtime pay, are antiquated.
    The changes, Labor Department officials say, would make more lower-income workers eligible for overtime.
    But labor unions fear changes would severely restrict who is legally required to be paid for overtime work.
    "Nothing prohibits employers from requiring as many hours as they want,'' said Chris Owens, public policy director for the AFL-CIO. "The overtime pay requirement is the only thing that acts as a brake on excessive work hours.''
    It is just one of several changes the administration is pursuing to workplace regulations and programs, including the Family Medical Leave Act, job training programs and unemployment insurance.
    The overtime changes are confined to a section of the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act that defines blue-collar and white-collar workers and determines who must be paid an hourly rate of time-and-a-half for working beyond 40 hours a week. About 80 million workers now are covered by the overtime rules.
    Under current regulations, employees are only exempted from the overtime rules if they meet several criteria, including salary, management and other administrative responsibilities and whether jobs require advanced "intellectual'' skills and training.
    Under the salary test, last updated in 1975, workers earning more than $8,060 a year are exempt from overtime if they meet the other criteria as well. The administration wants to raise this amount.
    [Basically a meaningless threshold.] Low-wage workers are being hurt under the current overtime pay regulations, said Tammy McCutchen, administrator of the Labor Department's wage and hour division. She said a minimum-wage worker logging 40 hours a week earns more than $10,700 a year. "If this minimum level is raised, more employees automatically will be entitled to overtime, thus providing additional protections to low-wage workers,'' she said.
    [Yeah sure, draw attention to the fact that you're going to change a meaningless threshold and downplay the much more important weakening of definitions you're going to pull -]
    At the same time, however, the department is clarifying and simplifying job descriptions and duties tests. That could move many higher paid workers into the exempt category, though McCutchen said she could not quantify the impact.
    [No, she can't even describe them = the usual withholding of key information by the Bush administration - like the energy policy meetings when the "coincidence" of oilmen around Cheney were fleshing out plans outlined in 1997 (see Gore Vidal's new book) to steal Iraq's oil.]
    "If the changes result in moving an employee who previously received overtime into exempt status not entitled to overtime, the law would no longer require the employer to pay overtime,'' she said.
    [You betcha!]
    The proposed labor law changes are troubling, said Rep. George Miller of California, top Democrat on the House Education and Workforce Committee. This administration's track record on worker issues ... demonstrates a strong anti-worker bias,'' Miller said. "I will vigorously oppose any effort by the Bush administration to undo critical overtime pay and family leave protections.''
    Employer groups such as the Chamber of Commerce complain that under the complex rules involving job duties and salary levels, many highly skilled and well-paid professional workers are required to get overtime pay. A surge in overtime pay litigation aimed at employers also is a concern.
    The law "was created to protect those workers who had the least economic leverage,'' said Randy Johnson, the chamber's labor vice president. "Now it's been distorted to provide overtime to engineers making over $80,000 a year.''
    [Oh yeah? How many engineers making over $80K do you know who are getting overtime pay? This is like the way the Bush disinformation experts called attention to a tiny group of self-employed farmers to try to sell the weakening of estate taxes to the American public.]
    The Labor Dept. is expected to issue the new overtime pay rules for public comment by the end of March. Congressional action is not required.
    Unions acknowledge that the overtime regulations, known as "white-collar exemptions,'' are outdated and confusing. They have essentially remained unchanged for 50 years.
    [Really? Which unions exactly. All we get after this is a quote from Bush's pet "labor secretary," no union people. Fifty percent of union people have always been clueless about the all-points priority of worktime anyway, and as for remaining unchanged for 50 years, the standard maximum workweek has remained unchanged now for SIXTY-THREE (63) years after coming down by half from 80-84 hours a week over the previous 100-150 years. Furthermore, rules we passed on the basis of the hard lessons of the Great Depression are not necessarily outdated, just because they were passed a long time ago - the Kondratieff "cycle" takes 60-70 years before coming round again.]
    "They're so difficult to interpret that they generate more class-action lawsuits in the workplace than antidiscrimination laws [ie: lawsuits??],'' said Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.
    [Why in the world would anti-discrimination lawsuits be preferable to class-action lawsuits, and can't a class-action suit in fact be an anti-discrimination suit?! The most difficult-to-interpret thing in this picture is the garbled gobbledygook coming out of Elaine Chao's Bush-befuddled brain.]
    "We're going to change that by bringing these regulations into conformity with the realities of the 21st century workplace.''
    [i.e., the new American sweatshop?]
    Workers filed 79 federal collective-action lawsuits seeking overtime pay in 2001, surpassing for the first time class-action suits against employers for job discrimination, according to the American Bar Association.
    Also on the administration's labor agenda is an overhaul of the Labor Department's job training programs, established under the Workforce Investment Act that Congress must renew this year.
    In his 2004 budget being released Monday, President Bush proposes to streamline funding into two job training programs instead of having a number of separate initiatives. He also wants $2 billion to fund new re-employment accounts to help workers pay for job-search expenses.
    On the Net:
    Overtime exemptions fact sheet: *www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/whdfs17.htm
    Overtime requirements fact sheet: *www.dol.gov/esa/regs/compliance/whd/whdfs23.htm

  2. [on the other hand, look at how hard the French have to exert themselves to maintain their living standards -]
    2/02   More than 150,000 march in France, by Jean-Marie Godard, AP 02/01/03 17:35 EST via AOLNews.
    PARIS - At least 150,000 people, some braving snow, poured into streets across France on Saturday to protest government plans to "reform" [our quotes - ed.] the country's generous but overburdened - pension system.... In France's pension system, contributions by workers go directly to today's retirees.
    [Same mishigas as here in the U.S.]
    As the population ages, there are fewer employees to contribute - yet more beneficiaries.
    [That shouldn't matter in a well-designed system that exploits worksaving technology to have just as many or more employees being paid the same or higher pay but working fewer hours per person - which is the whole point of technology - to make human life easier and freer, not to make it more desperate for the majority and more unimaginably excessive for the minority in the upper income brackets.]
    ..\..The demonstrations amounted to a shot across the bow for conservative Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin, who is expected to outline the proposed reforms on Monday.... Raffarin...already has angered labor unions by pushing for corporate taxcuts and a softening [ie: weakening] of France's 35-hour workweek....

  3. [and here's the state of the struggle between evil and good, work-funneling and work-spreading, in Japan -]
    2/03   2002 average monthly pay down 2.3%, largest drop since 1991, Kyodo 02/02/03 21:03 EST via AOLNews.
    TOKYO...- Average monthly pay in all industries in 2002 fell 2.3% from the previous year to 343,688 yen, marking the largest drop since 1991, when the data were first collected using the present method, the government said Monday. Adjusted for changes in consumer prices, the real wage also declined 1.2%, signifying the fact that wages are shrinking both in nomial and real terms, the Ministry of Health, Labor & Welfare said in a preliminary report [which] covers companies employing 5 or more people. Both the figures marked the 2nd straight yearly falls.
    [Gee, why do suppose that is?]
    Meanwhile, average monthly overtime at manufacturing companies, a key indicator of the economy's health, rose 4.0% to 13.5% hours in 2002, up for the first time in 2 years. Behind the rise was longer hours reported by transportation-equipment-related industries such as the automobile industry, Ministry officials said....
    Here's another article on this overtime development -]
    Table - Japan Dec overtime pay up for fifth month, Reuters 02/02/03 21:03 ET via AOLNews.
    TOKYO...- The average overtime pay of Japanese wage earners rose 6.5% in December from a year earlier and was up for the 5th straight month, data showed on Monday.... In terms of hours worked, overtime rose in December for a 6th straight month, and was up 6.4% from a year earlier....
    [Hmm, so the Japanese are working harder for less, despite having possibly the most technologized, robotized and automated economy in the world. Or maybe because of that combined with the CEOs' stupid response of cutting jobs and funneling work and wages, instead of cutting working hours and spreading work and wages. What about all that talk of work sharing we got last year? Apparently it hasn't gone very far, if this recent article is any indication -]
    Japan's jobless rate hits record high of 5.4% in 2002, by Ko Hirano, Kyodo News 01/30/03 23:56 EST via AOLNews.
    TOKYO -...Japan's unemployment rate hit a record high in 2002, up 0.4% from the previous year and breaking the record for the 2nd straight year, the government said in a preliminary report Friday.... Health, Labor & Welfare Minister Chikara Sakaguchi said it is time for the government to act as a facilitator between labor and management to help companies introduce the work-sharing system..\..
    [Ah, wasn't that what they said they were going to do back on 1/16/2002 #2 when government, business, and labor agreed Japan should adopt work-sharing, or even before that on 12/29/2001 #4 when the ruling party, the LDP, had decided to study worksharing, or even the day before (12/28/2001) when Sakaguchi planned to visit Germany to observe worksharing, or even 11/29/2001 #1 when government, business, and labor agreed to talk on work-sharing? Geez, they make and implement decisions slower than DEC (Digital Equipment Corp.) in the feel-good consensus heydays of Ken Olsen.]
    The number of people without jobs rose 190,000 to a record-high overall average of 3.59m for the 11th straight year of increase, the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts & Telecommunications said. ...The number of employed in Japan sank 820,000 to 63.3m for the 5th straight year of falls, with men down 470,000 and women 350,000, according to the Ministry report..\..
    However, Japan's 5.4% unemployment for 2002 was lower than the 5.8% the same year for the United States, the first time Tokyo's rate has come down below Washington's in 4 years, underlining slumps in the world's two largest economies....
    [Why?]
    A Ministry official said the number of employees at companies with a workforce of 500 or more fell a sharp 640,000 in 2002, mirroring major firms' efforts to trim their operations through restructuring.
    [Meaning the bogus restructuring of amputational downsizing, instead of the pressures for true restructuring brought to bear by overtime-to-training conversion and timesizing = cutting hours for all instead of job for a few, and a few more, and a few more....]


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