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Four in 10 Still Jobless After Manufacturing Recession

March 1, 1990

PITTSBURGH (AP) _ About four in 10 workers laid off at steel mills and manufacturing centers in the depressed Monongahela Valley since the early 1980s are still out of work, according to the results of a survey released Thursday.

In addition, those who are employed bring home paychecks of 40 to 68 percent less than their former wages.

The survey, which was drafted by steel industry and labor groups, covered responses of 3,500 workers who lost their jobs during the steel industry’s recession in the early- and mid-1980s.

Questionnaires were sent to 16,000 of the estimated 40,000 workers laid off in the last decade.

″This is not only wrong for the people who are trying to live, but this is a waste of resources for the area,″ said Mike Stout, the study’s coordinator and a staff member of the Tri-State Conference on Steel.

The survey says 18 percent of respondents once used computers, 11 percent operated heavy equipment containing computers, 22 percent monitored quality- control systems and 38 percent read blueprints.

Stout said, ″It’s a problem that has been forgotten and covered up for a long time.″

Stout once worked at USX Corp.’s Homestead works, where the workforce was cut by 6,000 in the 1980s.

Other major cutbacks in the 1980s were 7,800 workers at Westinghouse’s Turtle Creek plant, 3,800 workers at USX’s McKeesport plant and 3,500 at LTV’s Pittsburgh works.

In addition to lower or no wages, the workers reported family breakups, fewer benefits, poorer working conditions and unsafe workplaces.

Workers who responded were listed on the rolls of the United Steelworkers of America, United Electrical Workers and the Pennsylvania division of the AFL-CIO.

One-third who are employed said they work part-time and 57 percent said they were discriminated against because of their ages. The average age of the respondents was 50.

″No one wants a 54-year-old ex-steelworker who belonged to a union,″ wrote one respondent.

The survey criticizes politicians for relying on jobs in service industries to try to pump life back into local industries, Stout said.