sábado, 7 de marzo de 2009

El desempleo toco mi puerta

Pensé que no me tocaría, pero la crisis también me afectó directamente. A mi hijo mayor, ilusionado porque se acababa de graduar en diciembre de Florida International University en Ciencias Políticas, le dijeron a principios de semana que no lo podían mantener en su trabajo en un hotel aquí en Miami. Ayer me llamó mi “hermana” postiza desde Minneapolis – digo postiza porque fue mi host sister cuando estuve becado en la adolescencia – y perdió su trabajo en una oficina de abogados. Estaba destruida y no se animaba a llamar a su madre, ya anciana, y a su hermano en Dakota del Norte porque no quería destruirles el fin de semana.

La crisis se profundiza cada vez más en Estados Unidos. Ayer se dieron a conocer las nuevas cifras del mes y mi hijo Tomás y mi hermana postiza Faye fueron parte de los 651.000 empleos que se perdieron en febrero en todo el país. La tasa alcanzó el 8.1%, la más alta registrada desde 1983. Y lo que es peor, la tasa se irá incrementando en los próximos meses por la cantidad de anuncios sobre despidos masivos hechos por compañías grandes, como la Toyota en el sur de la Florida, que buscan afanosamente como reducir costos.

En el sector donde me muevo, el periodismo, la crisis no tiene proporciones. Anoche hablé con Bob Rivard, director editorial del San Antonio Express-News, y me contó que ya eliminó decenas de puestos de trabajo en su sala de Redacción y que debe hacerlo de nuevo. De un plantel de algo más de 300 periodistas, dentro de dos meses quedará con alguito menos a 200. Aquí en el Herald de Miami, donde trabajé hace algunos años, pude observar como muchos de mis amigos se fueron y los fueron en los últimos años. Pero esta próxima semana parece que habrá nuevos anuncios de una reestructuración del diario en español, El Nuevo Herald, de la que ya hay rumores por doquier.

La industria periodística tiene todos los días una nueva mala noticia. Las del New York Times y los millones de rescate de Carlos Slim ya son cosa de todos los días. A fines de febrero el Rocky Mountain News de Denver publicó su última edición con un título de portada con el que terminó su extensa trayectoria de 150 años: “Goodbye Colorado”. Mientras que en San Francisco, otro de los íconos del periodismo, el San Francisco Chronicle, dijo que estará cerrará sino logra reducir costos o vender su operación, la que alcanza a 354.000 ejemplares de venta – para nada despreciable – al día. Muchos otros periódicos, como los más importantes de Filadelfia están a punto de declararse en bancarrota.

Volviendo al desempleo general la pérdida neta de 651.000 puestos de trabajo sobrevino tras las reducciones de la nómina en los dos meses anteriores, de acuerdo con las cifras actualizadas. La economía perdió 681.000 empleos en diciembre y 655.000 en enero, según reportó AP. Esta agencia noticiosa justificó que “los patronos reducen sus plantillas a un paso alarmante y buscan otras maneras de reducir costos a costa del salario, tales como reducir las jornadas laborales, congelar o reducir los sueldos, porque la recesión merma las ventas y ganancias. Los consumidores en todo el mundo reducen sus gastos, a medida que la crisis global afecta a todos”.

El número total de desempleados alcanzó 12,5 millones. Los únicos sectores que no están tan afectados por la crisis son la educación, la atención médica y la burocracia estatal, cuya plantilla creció el mes pasado. Las disciplinas que están en picada son la construcción, las fábricas, los negocios detallistas, los servicios profesionales y empresariales, las empresas financieras, de viajes y hoteleras. Es decir casi todo.

La única esperanza es que pronto el paquete de estímulo de Barack Obama comience a surtir efecto. Mientras tanto, Tomás seguirá necesitando de mi aporte y Faye deberá darle las malas noticias a su hermana y su hermano para que salgan a su rescate.

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