After Balto. Co. layoffs, job hunt is tough 'Black Thursday' impact still felt

March 18, 1993|By Larry Carson | Larry Carson,Staff Writer

One month after "Black Thursday," the day hundreds of Baltimore County workers lost their jobs, four have found work in the private sector through the county's job placement center, and three have filled vacancies in county government.

A dozen other county jobs are available, though they won't be filled until mid-April at the earliest, according to personnel officials.

The depressed economy isn't making the job search easy for those out of work. Many older, former middle-management workers are "harder to place" because they want jobs with salaries and duties comparable to the jobs they lost, says John M. Wasilisin, the county's job placement administrator.

The people who found private-sector jobs are working as a construction supervisor, a development planner, a route driver for a vending machine company, and a secretary. Mr. Wasilisin says others may have found jobs on their own.

Dave Groft, 32, hasn't been so lucky. Like several other former county workers, he spent part of Monday at the county's temporary job placement assistance center in Lutherville, a telephone pressed to his ear. Having lost his county job of six years, he was looking for custodial work or maintenance.

Mr. Groft once thought his county job was secure. He bought a new truck and, several years ago, a house in Hanover, Pa. His job security ended after County Executive Roger B. Hayden announced layoffs Feb. 11. Subsequently, Mr. Groft was "bumped" out of his $25,000-a-year position repairing and replacing county road signs. A worker with more seniority took his job, even though it paid less. Now Mr. Groft is out of work.

"Things are so tight," he says of the job market. "Most places won't even take applications except on one day a week."

Mr. Groft says he'd signed up for the center's computer training courses, but the blue-collar courses he wants, such as warehousing and materials management, aren't being offered. To make matters worse, he's about to run out of severance pay, and figures he'll have to sell the house he bought three years ago -- at a loss.

In the weeks following the layoffs, 37 former county workers retired, and 10 lawyers working part time for the county Office of Law are pursuing their vocation elsewhere. Hundreds of other workers are still searching.

Although Mr. Hayden announced that 566 county jobs were cut, including 392 filled positions, fewer workers actually lost their jobs, says budget director Fred Homan. Seventy people bumped to lower-paying positions, or filled existing vacancies. Others, like the people working at the Essex Day Care Center or those in the county's central stores warehouse, won't lose their jobs until June.

As yet there's no exact count of how many of those laid off actually will become unemployed, says Mr. Homan. The current number stands at 314.

By the end of last week, 236 former county workers had attended orientation sessions at the county's job center. Of those, 215 have had resumes prepared at the center, and 209 have returned for appointments with individual counselors.

Eighty-eight have been referred to training programs and many others have attended one or more of the center's workshops on job-search skills, coping with stress, and managing money. The center will remain open at least until May.

Nancy Liss, 47, a former county librarian with 21 years of experience, is two weeks into her job search. The county library system didn't lay off its 25 full-time and 34 part-time people in February.

Library workers had to reinterview for their jobs. Selections weren't announced until March 3. That's when Ms. Liss, most recently of the Woodlawn branch, got her bad news.

"Twenty-one years and 10 months, thank you very much," says Ms. Liss, smiling.

With every local government cutting back on spending, there's no market for librarians, says Ms. Liss, who has a master's degree in library science.

"I did a resume" at the county job center, says Ms. Liss. She adds that she also plans to take several computer courses. "I know I should look at this as an opportunity, but it's still quite a shock."

Part of the problem laid-off county workers face is the competition, even at the county's job placement center. Julie Intelisanno, 23, the receptionist, is conducting her own job hunt.

She graduated last May from Towson State University and spent the fall buying radio time for political candidates. Now, she's an agency temporary, working until May.

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