From Bureaucracy to Burger King?

The big news out of New Orleans late yesterday was, of course, Mayor Ray Nagin's announcement that the city was laying off 3,000 employees--half of its ...
by | October 5, 2005

The big news out of New Orleans late yesterday was, of course, Mayor Ray Nagin's announcement that the city was laying off 3,000 employees--half of its workforce. Tbell_4

But just below that article on the Times-Picayune Web site was another startling jobs story: Competition for low- and unskilled workers is fierce in the metropolitan region. Many fast-food restaurants, for example, are increasing their pay by more than 50 percent to $8 an hour, as well as offering signing bonuses of up to $6,000.

The tight general labor market is good news for the working poor who remain in the area--as well as for many who just received a pink slip from City Hall. (It's a troubling but true fact that lots of full-time, government jobs in the Big Easy, and elsewhere, pay less than $20,000 a year.) And I expect that not only cafeteria cooks but also clerical specialists, custodians, library aides, mail-room supervisors, parking-meter collectors, pest-control workers and sign fabricators are happy to hear Popeye's is hiring.

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Anne Jordan  |  Former Editor
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