In late September, José Torres, an architectural designer, was laid off from the Miami firm where he had worked for two years. Because of the global economic crisis, he says, “there were no more projects coming to the table.” His severance package included two weeks’ pay and a letter of reference that attributed his lay off to “the dire financial environment that has overtaken the country.” Now, he’s struggling to find a new job, he says, as candidates with similar credentials flood the market.
Nationwide, unemployment is on the rise. According to the "Employment Situation: October 2008" report released on November 7 by the U.S. Department of Labor, 1.2 million jobs have been eliminated this year, more than half of them in the past three months. In October, the unemployment rate climbed to 6.5 percent, a 14-year high; the construction industry alone lost 49,000 jobs. “Since peaking in September 2006, construction employment has fallen by 663,000, largely in residential components,” the report says.