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Many Firms Indicate Pre-Recession Workforce Levels Are History

CHICAGO (UPI) — Results of a recent survey indicate many of the jobs lost in the last recession are not returning now or ever, a private U.S. employment firm said Thursday.

The survey conducted by outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas involved employers who had eliminated jobs during the recession. The intent was to find out how many jobs have already been recreated, how many are returning in the future and how many might be lost forever.

To start, 53 percent of the human resources executives who responded to the survey indicated that their firms had cut jobs during the December 2007 to June 2009 recession, the firm said.

That said, 82 percent of respondents indicated that they had hired new workers since January 2010.

Of those who have hired workers, 33 percent indicated some of the laid off workers had returned to work and 67 percent indicated that they have built up their workforce starting “from scratch,” the outplacement firm said.

In addition, 43 percent of the human resources executives who have returned to hiring indicated their workforces had returned to or surpassed pre-recession levels and 15 percent indicated they intended to return to pre-recession levels in time.

But 43 percent indicated their peak number of workers was in the past. Those executives indicated their firms had no intention bringing their workforce back to pre-recession levels, Challenger, Gray & Christmas said.

Those human resource executives represent a lot of lost jobs. The recession officially ended in June 2009, but the shrinking of the national workforce continued for another seven months, eventually accounting for 8,736,000 lost jobs, National Bureau of Economic Affairs data indicates.

“What we have come to know as ‘the jobless recovery’ may be the new post-recession norm, as employers rebuild their workforces from scratch, take more time to vet candidates, and find ways to operate with fewer workers,” said Chief Executive Officer John Challenger.

“To put that in perspective … basically, every one of the 8,030,000 jobs created between August 2003 and January 2008 plus another 700,000 were wiped out,” Challenger said.

Challenger, however, said jobs were being added to the economy at a faster pace than in the previous two recessions.

The problem is that the job losses were huge.

“It is just taking longer to rebuild due to the fact that we started in a much deeper hole,” Challenger said.

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