Enterprise forced into first job cuts

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Car Rental News - 01/01/2009


Companies managing to avoid layoffs in past downturns are finding it impossible to do now.

Until this most recent economic downturn, US-based Enterprise Rent-A-Car was proud that in 51 years it had never had to lay off employees. Even after the September 11 attacks, when rivals were cutting the size of their fleets and closing down underperforming branch offices, Enterprise kept on growing.

Recently, however, the largest rental car company in America was forced to announce the dismissal of 1,000 of its 75,000 employees, as US consumers decreased the amount of flying and driving they were doing. "These types of declines are unprecedented," said Patrick Farrell, who is the vice president for corporate responsibility at Enterprise.

In the US, the deepening recession is leading to layoffs at long-established employers in other industries that also were able to avoid cuts in past downturns.

Some of the employers are in industries that have been hit hard by economic conditions. For example, in the car rental and leasing industry, employment fell by 3.3 percent in the month of October, compared with the same month in 2007, according to figures provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Zeeland, Michigan-based Gentex Corp., a supplier to the automotive industry, had to recently lay off employees for the first time in 34 years, as car sales plunged. Even a decline in gambling revenues has added up to lost jobs at the Little River Casino in Manistee, Michigan. One hundred of the 950 workers employed by the casino were dismissed in November – constituting the first layoffs at the casino in its nine years in operation.

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