NAM: High gas prices causing layoffs

High natural gas prices are beginning to cause significant job losses, salary freezes and lost market share for U.S. manufacturers, according to the results of a national survey released Thursday by the National Association of Manufacturers. Nearly 45% of those surveyed said they will be forced to lay off workers or impose wage freezes or reductions.
By Staff December 1, 2005

High natural gas prices are beginning to cause significant job losses, salary freezes and lost market share for U.S. manufacturers, according to the results of a national survey released Thursday by the National Association of Manufacturers.

Nearly 45% of those surveyed said they will be forced to lay off workers or impose wage freezes or reductions. About 22% of respondents said their companies would cut health care or benefits in an attempt to keep up with energy costs.

“This is a crisis. It’s the worst I’ve seen since we started this company 45 years ago,” said Virginia Ferrell, president of Capital Engineering and Manufacturing Co., with 85 employees in Chicago. “I don’t think people recognize that this shortage of energy is new to the United States. It’s a seismic market disruption. Meanwhile, our competitors are increasing their energy supplies.”

Ferrell said her company would impose job cuts, wage freezes, benefit cuts, and move to a four-day work week to survive energy costs that have doubled. “This is serious enough to put us out of business,” she said.

About two-thirds of respondents said natural gas is their primary energy source. About 15% cited oil, and three percent cited coal.

“The results of this survey should set off alarms in Congress — high energy prices pose an immediate threat to the U.S. economy,” said NAM president John Engler. “It is time to increase energy supply and infrastructure, starting with developing our vast resources in Alaska and the Outer Continental Shelf.”