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Blue-Collar Worker Worried About Economy With PM-Economy-Half Full

January 1, 1992

DALLAS (AP) _ Steve Brennecke’s leading economic indicator is whether or not he has a job. He’s working now, but the indicator has been higher.

The 34-year-old warehouseman at Dallas Semiconductor saw 75 of his 750 fellow workers laid off in October. Now, sitting over a pitcher of cold beer at the smoke-filled David’s Bar & Grill on the eve of 1992, he frets about his future.

″I’m more worried than I’ve been in the past five years,″ he said. ″I’ve been talking to my friends about how things are going at their companies. Everybody’s worried.″

Brennecke said he has many out-of-work friends, including a couple who are scrounging to pay basic debts.

″She’s laid off ... She’s applied at 45 companies and still doesn’t have a solid lead. He’s laid off from construction work. They’re staying home and everything they make goes toward the mortgage.″

The government reported Tuesday the Index of Leading Economic Indicators fell 0.3 percent in November, the biggest drop in 10 months. The fall was blamed on declining consumer confidence and other falling business barometers.

Like many employers around the country, circuit manufacturer Dallas Semiconductor told workers the layoffs were a reaction to soft demand. Besides the layoffs, the company has cut overtime, meaning the remaining workers have to compensate for the lost help without extra hours. There also weren’t the usual Christmas bonuses this year.

″That’s what I usually do my Christmas shopping with,″ Brennecke said. ″People got used record albums and stuff for gifts.″

Brennecke already has been scouting the job market, preparing for what he thinks might be inevitable, but he’s found that times are tough everywhere. He tried to get a part-time job. He finally gave up.

Fortunately, he said, he’s unmarried and has no children to support.

″I can’t afford a family.″

Brennecke doesn’t know who to blame for the recession, which President Bush only recently acknowledged but workers in this area have known about for months.

In the past year, such area companies as General Dynamics and American Airlines have announced layoffs.

Nearly 4,000 employees at the General Motors assembly plant in nearby Arlington found out a few weeks ago their chances of employment beyond 1992 are 50-50.

On Monday, Dallas-based Zale Corp., the nation’s largest jewelry retailer, announced it was closing 400 of its 2,000 stores at a cost of 2,500 jobs after a dismal holiday season.

Brennecke said he used to deliver papers part time for the Dallas Times Herald, which left 900 people unemployed when it shut down in early December.

″I’m wondering how long my job will be around,″ he said, pouring another beer. ″They concealed it the first time. They didn’t give us any hint that anything was going to happen. We have every reason to believe they’ll do it again.″

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