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March 23, 1975 - Image 3

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily, 1975-03-23

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laura berman
dan borus
contributing editor:
mary long



page four-books
page five-john
page six-week in

Number 21 Page Three March

123, 1975

Jobless and s
Singing those

JT WASN'T DOING without vaca-
tions and country clubs that
bothered Bill George about being
laid off from his research and de-
velopment job at a local auto sup-
ply firm. It was the meager gift
he gave his wife for his thirty-fifth
"All I could afford was a small
trinket and a card," he said, stav-
ing off tears. "I felt like dirt. She's
been so great and ... "
If a picture is worth a thousand
words, then America's images
of hard times constitute a library
of despair . and anguish. Bill
George's speechlessness in the un-
employment office, like the Thir-
ties' Dust Bowls, soup kitchens,
and apple sellers, symbolizes the
transformation of the Great Amer-
ican Dream of Success into a vio-
lent nightmare of failure.
Small successes to the contrary,
signs that more and more execu-
tives are going to face the harsh
economic, realities of unemploy-
ment lines and meager meals are
just being sighted.
or employment counselor is
suggesting that today's hard times
will banish masses of trained and
highly educated people into bare-
ly subsistence occupations as the
Great Crash and Depression did.
But they are cautioning about
hard times ahead.
Economist Gardner Ackley sees
a downward trend in employment
for the next six months at least.
And though recession and depres-
sion wound working class families
harder and earlier financially, the
psychological devastation of bad
times knows no class barriers. The
White Collar Pink Slip Blues, with
its tension and depression, are part
and parcel of today's social por-
* ITEM - The automobile in-
dustry, a keystone to economic
health, is not hiring new execu-
tives. Ford and General Motors
have cancelled all their interviews
at schools through out the coun-
try. Chrysler went through what
some sources termed "massive"
layoffs last winter and have not
called everyone back. Just last
week the Supplemental Unemploy-
ment Benefits (SUB) for 5,000
white collar workers ran out. Mor-
ale at all four auto firms is a
touchy subject and is certainly not
* ITEM - The Michigan Em-
ployment Security Commission,
which h a n d I e s unemploy-

p ink


p blues
hair that is still jet black at forty.
"Just angry."
"Look, I received an excellent
education, did well at the com-
pany, was liked by many of my
clients. And now I can't find any
work at all. It's just not right. It
simply isn't right. My family and
I deserve better than this."
It is his family that is George's
greatest concern. The medical
bills, shopping bills, and orthodon-
tist bills are piling up and he

ment benefits, is handing out more
to white collar workers than last
year. This is a rough ballpark esti-
mate by a local branch manager
since the Commission does not
classify its recipients by collar
hue. The MESC office here parcels
out an average of $75,000 to $80,000
a day in benefits, with the high-
est award $106.00 a week.
0 ITEM -Local management
employment agencies are carrying
slightly heavier case loads in the

"Look, I received an excellent education, did
well at the company, was liked by my clients.
And now I can't find any work at all. It's just not
right. It simply isn't right. My family and I1de-
serve better than this."

last six months. A considerable
number of these clients are execu-
tives seeking a second or third ca-
reer as a. result of layoffs or the
threat of layoffs. Owen Porterfield,
owner of Career World, estimates
that a good fifty per cent of the
clients he sees are currently unem-
" ITEM - Though public and
private therapists hesitate to draw
conclusions from their limited and
as yet uncodified data, they do
agree that the poor economic situ-
ation has increased the number
of depressed patients they see.
Clinics are overburdened, and pri-
vate practices are not suffering
from the recession.
There is sturdy statistical proof
that there exists an inverse rela-
tionship between economic cycles
and the number of schizophrenics
admitted to mental institutions.
When the economic indicators fall,
admissions rise.
* ITEM - Middle and upper
class alcoholism has increased.
* * *
THE MESC OFFICE in the Maple
Shopping center is never a
pleasant place to stand and wait.
It's floor is just barely institution-
ally clean, nothing more. The
counters are tinny and worn. The
walls are painted in an atrocious
off-white. When it is crowded in
the morning with people who look
as depressed and helpless as you
feel, it's even a worse place to be.
This Friday morning Bill George
(not his real name) is going out to
Maple Village to pick up his
$106.00 a week check. "I wouldn't
say I am embarrassed to be here,"
he says, rubbing his hands through

doesn't know how far his savings
can go. It's more than the luxuries
he's sacrificing now - its new
clothes, small repairs, some food
items. Possibly the comfortable
Ann Arbor home is next.
my daughter has been the
roughest thing. She's fourteen
years old and has only known lux-
ury. Curing affluent buying habits
are really very difficult.
"The first month was the hard-
est of all. We were sort of addicted
to things like good meat and play-
ing indoor tennis. It was also the
month with the most quarrels. I
was shot. I couldn't take it. I kept
asking 'why me?'
"I'd buy things, little things
really inexpensive to cheer myself
un. I had to stop it and we had to
stop all the luxuries at once. I
guess it's like cold turkeying."
Cold turkeying was something
William George never thought
he'd have to do. He graduated from
a Midwestern college in 1956.and
went to work for Chrysler that
year. After two years with the au-
tomakers, he left to join an auto
supply firm. Ironically 1958 was a
recession year, yet George doesn't
remember the hardships at all.
"WHEN I WENT to school I al-
ways believed that I was en-
titled to good things if I worked
hard and did well. I don't think I
ever questioned whether or not
they would be there. It was silly to
think they wouldn't be. Those peo-
ple who did were the left-wing
fringe people.
"You know," he reflects, "some-
times I think those guys I called

An unidentified white collar worker applies for
employment office.

kooks were right and I was the
Majorie George didn't marry a
kook sixteen years ago. She mar-
ried a man she fell in love with at
the library where she worked -
a man whom she wanted to share
life's joys and sorrows.
"Bill was what I'd guess you'd
call a hard charger," she says. "He
knew what he wanted from life
and knew he could get it. Some-
times these days I wonder if he's
lost a bit of that confidence."
"He'll mope a bit. Then he'll get
angry. We have not had any major
fights that I can think of. But lit-
tle things keep cropping up.

"It's not just the economics that
are causing such problems among
the unemployed," University Hos-
pital Walk-in Clinic psychiatrist
Stephen Landau says, "It's a life
crisis. People who find themselves
either unemployed or under the
threat of unemployment must re-
solve the drastic role shift - from
provider to dependent. At the same
time, they must accept the way
the family perceives them in that
new role and resolve insecurities
about the future . Economic bad
times can aggravate pre-existing
pathologies which might have re-
mained unexpressed if the stress
were not there. Those who deal

"When I went to school I always believed that
I was entitled to good things if I worked hard
and did well. I don't think I ever questioned
whether or not they would be there. Those peo-
ple who questioned whether it was all worth it
were left-wing fringe people. You know, some-
times I think those guys I called kooks were right
and I was the kook."

Daily Photo by STEVE KAGAN
benefits at a local un-
also observing the stress of the un-
employed. Sam Sarafa of Manage-
ment Recruiters sees the effect in
employment patterns. "The switch
in careers goes beyond the present
situation. People are moving in
different directions and have been
since 1970, the last great recession.
They start thinking about the fu-
ture and figure they don't want to
be unemployed and in the same
miserable position again.
new area and when we talk
sales and marketing to engineers,
they get very nervous and don't
think much of the idea. But when
they get through a couple inter-
viewing experiences, they feel bet-
ter. The initial dislocation is so
strong and sometimes hurts so
Landau sees the "recessional
neurosis" affecting present college
students as well. "The crux of the
problem is not only being laid off
but the threat as well. Sometimes
that can be more debilitating," he
says. "College students are coming
out of school with little chance of
getting that first job they want
and theyhare worried.
"We're seeing a helluva lot more
of them and we expect even more."
JIM KLEE at the University's
Business School placement of-
fice sees the story from a different
angle. "I wish I could tell you
something dark," he said. "But
we're doing surprisingly well.
We're holding our own. Banking,
finance and accounting are very
healthy; several students in the
program have offers already.
"We do have alumni placement
operation and they have had a
slight increase in participation
since August. However it is hard
to determine how much of that is
because people are out of work, or
concerned about their futures."
Porterfield, who emphasizes that
he works in a specialized market,
sees the executive market now lev-
eling off after some high times.
He feels Ann Arbor has a normal
job market.
And Sarafa says that while the
short term picture isn't excellent,
he's optimistic about the future.
"You always have to be," he says,
"things always pick up."

"I'll do my best to help him out.
I try and listen to almost every-
thing he says, even when I am
bored. It's tough for him, when I
am working at the library and he's
waitings for calls or letters. I sug-
gested he change fields and I
think he will."
RILL IS NOT SO sure he will go
into marketing and sales as
his wife suggested. "I don't have
the right techniques -- I'm an
auto man - and I certainly don't
like sales. But I've got to do some-
thing. I can't stand not working."
"I think I am most worried
about the kids',' George savs.
"Marjorie and I will make it," he
states with finality, reclining in
an easy chair in their living room
after he pinked un his benefit
check and denofited it in the bank.
"fiwi has been very cold and
withirnwn You know sornPthinQ is
bothpring her. hut she won't sv.
T think s child needs to think of a

successfully with such major stress
are those who have a set of well
developed coping skills."
DR. SAUL FORMAN, a private
practitioner in Detroit who
sees patients from all economic
strata, concurs that the economy
is having an effect on the psycho-
logical health of executives. He is
quick to point out, though, that
the maladies he sees daily are not
confined to white collar unem-
"Yes, I do see a lot of 'recession-
al neurosis' - people who have no
idea what to do with themselves,
who are reiected, angry and who
take to acting out their anxieties.
Treatment is difficult in some
cases since much of the problem
is agegravated by what can't be
Not all stress problems end un-in
n-vchiatrist's couches or thera-
nist's chairs. Many people do not
conciilt formal agencies. Many


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