News

Lamenting a Jobless Recovery

11/14/2009 2:00 AM Eastern

While others (including Mike Farrell for our cover story) were chasing the nuances of the upcoming Comcast acquisition of NBC Universal, I was pursing tips about job cuts at Comcast and A&E Television Networks and reposting a story about a 600-employee call center Dish Network is closing in Pennsylvania. The Dish story was news in the Pittsburgh media for days: McKeesport, a former steel town, has an unemployment rate of 10.3%, according to The Post-Gazette.

Comcast chief financial officer Michael Angelakis recently disclosed that “a cost-management initiative” is under way that will lead to a severance charge in the fourth quarter. We asked Comcast about cuts we'd heard of, to marketing positions in various sites, and were told, on background, the company's trying to be more efficient, and when people are let go as jobs change, the company tries to find them other jobs. The Boston Globe reported a layoff notice in Massachusetts for 64 jobs at Comcast's Spotlight ad-sales unit in Wellesley.

AETN, absorbing Lifetime Networks, is mostly finished eliminating around 100 jobs out of a combined 1,100, in such areas as human resources, finance and public relations. AETN confirmed closing the affiliate-sales portion of its Chicago office, but didn't say how many people left.

In this jobless recovery, stocks are up on expected profit gains, largely from cost reductions. While first-time claims for unemployment benefits declined last week, the national jobless rate is a reported 10.2%.

Statistically, we're a nation of McKeesports.

The good news is cable and satellite firms are relatively stable employers. Dish said it isn't closing any other call centers. Good news came from Time Warner Cable, which said it was consolidating some operating regions but said no other job cuts are planned beyond a 1,250-job reduction (3% of the workforce) disclosed in February. Comcast and Cox both made job cuts late last year.

“We have an obligation to consider every additional and responsible step that we can to encourage and accelerate job creation in this country,” President Obama said last week in announcing plans for a jobs summit at the White House in December.

Amen to that.

September