U.S. companies ask workers to do more rather than hire

Mon Nov 30, 2009 10:07am EST
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By Chris Reese

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Like many U.S. employers, Tish and Snooky Bellomo are asking their workers to take on additional duties, rather than hiring new employees, at their New York cosmetic and hair accessory company.

Earlier this year the two got rid of a consultant and, rather than rehiring, turned to their 13 employees at Manic Panic, which has sold punk rock inspired fashions and hair dyes since 1977, and asked them to pick up the slack.

The two are not alone in foisting more responsibilities on employees of their cluttered packaging facility floor in a gritty neighborhood in Queens in New York City. Government data earlier this month showed U.S. employee productivity rose at its fastest pace in six years in the third quarter of this year.

The 9.5 percent jump at an annual rate in the amount of output per employee came at a time when many American employers are slashing jobs in an effort to cut costs. The U.S. unemployment rate climbed in October to 10.2 percent, a 26-1/2 year high.

"We have given people a lot more responsibility since we have gotten rid of this consultant, so now everyone is doing everything and people are not just doing their specific job," says Tish Bellomo, who co-founded the company with her sister.

Employees now handle public relations and marketing duties formerly managed by the consultant.

The Bellomo sisters are unusual in that the deepest recession in decades has not hit their business. In fact, Manic Panic is having their best year ever, with revenues expected to top $5 million in 2009.

It seems that rather than spending upward of $200 at a salon for a hair dye job, people are instead paying about $12 for a jar of the dye, either online or at a retail outlet, and coloring their hair with "vampire red" or "atomic turquoise," themselves at home.   Continued...

<p>Job seekers wait in a line for a turn to speak with a recruiter at a job fair in San Francisco, September 15, 2009. REUTERS/Robert Galbraith</p>