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Sunday, January 23, 2005
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Find your earnings potential. Section 10

Like Factories
Paperwork? Some Rev Up
Medical Like (At Last)
Workers In the US

HREE years ago, Ace Clear-
By THOMAS J. LUECK water Enterprises, a Tor-
rance, Calif., maker of
custom parts for everything

ITH the health care in- from jet planes to power plants, of-
dustry struggling to fered its 175 workers the choice be-
keep pace with the ex-
panding requirements In the tween a shortened workweek and job
cuts. This year it is staffing up.
for paperwork under managed care, "We've been in hiring mode for
the New York region is confronting
an acute shortage of physician as-
office, about a year now," said Gary John-
son, its vice president, who wants to
sistants and clerical workers at the
entry level in medicine, according to the No. 1 bring his payroll up to 195.
Manufacturing is back. Last year,
government labor statistics and in-
dustry executives.
Although many see the demand as
complaint producers of machinery increased
employment by 22,000. Makers of
computers and electronic products
positive, they also see a downside.
The situation may provide ample op- is being added 11,000 jobs. After six years of
decline, manufacturing added 76,000
portunity for jobs, some experts say,
but medical assistant and record-
keeping work may lead to few, if any,
too cold. jobs in 2004.
The increase hardly makes a dem
chances for advancement because in the 2.8 million manufacturing jobs
of rigorous training and licensing lost from 2000 to 2003, when manu-
requirements. By AMY ZIPKIN facturing took the steepest dive since
The demand for such workers is the early 1980's. No economist ex-
running high nationwide. A forecast pects manufacturing to return to its

released in February 2004 by the ERRY McCLOSKEY, direc- peak of the 1970's, when it accounted
Bureau of Labor Statistics said the tor of research at a media for 20 percent of the nation's jobs,
fastest growing occupation until 2012 company in Manhattan, de- compared with 11 percent today.
will be medical assistants. Physician scribes her office as having Yet as producers of everything
assistants ranked third on the bu- "very strange temperature pock- from power generators to surgical
reau's list (behind data communica- ets." During the winter months, Ms. devices guardedly add to their pay-
tions analysts), while medical McCloskey keeps a red sweater rolls, some economists are cautious-
records technicians ranked sixth and handy and leaves a suit jacket in the ly optimistic that the decline of the
physical therapists' assistants office. Occasionally she wears a former great job engine, which sup-
ranked 10th. scarf. ported the rise of the nation's middle
Demand for medical workers ap- "It's hard to keep your thoughts class through the postwar era, might
pears to be the most voracious from wandering with goose bumps have finally come to an end.
among the huge concentration of hos- on your arm," she said. She particu- "We've probably hit bottom," said
pitals, clinics, nursing homes and larly dislikes the seventh-floor con- Josh Bivens, an economist at the
medical offices that make New York ference room, which she calls so Economic Policy Institute, who fol-
a magnet for health care. "I would cold that "when you open the door, lows factory employment. "We
bet that in New York, where health you can almost see your breath." should see some benefits from the
Her only recourse when she is cold is fall in the dollar so far. If the fall
rn fall,a maiPUwwwcft.Paie'-.'Jiüiitaiify'-i ... SB^^CS ' ••' • - - ..••••••. • •'
ILJL.J. just the thermostat down the hall.
Asia we could get more gains."
Ms. McCloskey is not alone. A
In New York, an acute May 2003 survey by the Internation-
Manufacturing workers have had
a rough century so far. Employment
al Facilities Management Associa-
shortage of health tion in Houston says being too cold
at manufacturers fell from 17.2 mil-
lion at the end of 2000 to 14.3 million
was the No. 1 office complaint, fol-
care office workers. lowed by being too hot, poor janitori-
at the end of last year, the lowest
level since 1950.
al service, not enough conference
Much of the blame lies in a combi-
rooms and not enough storage and
nation of lackluster spending by busi-
care is such a dominant industry, the filing space in a workstation. The
nesses since the recession of 2001,
demand is going to be even greater association conducted similar sur-
in the rest of the country," said Mi- veys in 1991 and 1997, and a spokes-
chael L. Dolfman, the bureau's New man, Donald Young, says the same
complaints led both times, although
York regional commissioner.
once hot edged out cold.
Job Production
A result is a large, growing entry
point to the medical industry that is Winter took its time arriving this Manufacturing employment is
particularly suited to immigrants, year in New York. Temperatures in showing signs of recovery
who may lack extensive training or the 50's during the second week in after several years of decline.
college degrees, but speak more January were unusual. With oil
than one language. Many of the cleri- prices ai or near record highs in the
cal skills required can be mastered Northeast, and colder temperatures
in associate degree programs or returning, companies are again
shorter course work. keeping a watchful eye on the ther-
In a polyglot region where insur- mostat to minimize fuel costs.
ance forms, duplicate bills and other They take their cue from the fed-
medical red tape can be frustrating eral government. While there are no Manufacturing
for people with limited English, it national standards for energy con- employment, monthly
has become essential for hospitals servation, the Department of Ener- finally adjusted
and medical offices to offer help in gy's Office of Energy Efficiency and
several languages. Moving up the Renewable Energy suggests that
career ladder, however, poses con- heating be set at 68 degrees in win-
siderable challenges. ter and cooling at 78 degrees in
Maritza Rodriguez of Manhattan, summer. That has been the rule of
a 42-year-old divorced mother of two, thumb since the 1973 oil embargo by
had worked at clerical jobs in offices the Organization of Petroleum Ex-
and in retail customer service before porting Countries. And for every de-
gree the heat is set lower than 68, 0
completing a 10-week course in med-
ical billing and record keeping in utility bills are reduced by 1.5 per-
90 92 94 96 '!'!! '00 02 04
October. She said she immediately cent, said Paul Hess, an energy in-
found Jobs with two doctors, splitting formation specialist for the Energy Source: Department ol Labor
her workweek between Brooklyn Information Administration.
and Manhattan. "There is so much Now, though, Alan Hedge, director The New York Times
demand," said Ms. Rodriguez, who of the Cornell University Human which reduced demand for manufac-
said she rarely logged more than 40 Factors and Ergonomics Laborato-
hours a week total and expected to tured goods, and a burst of produc-
ry, says he believes corporate
make more than $50,000 this year, tivity growth as companies squeezed
America has had it wrong for 30
also receiving health care benefits. years. Last winter, he conducted a more out of their work force. Trade's
study that he says shows that warm- role in this situation is in dispute. But
"I have always liked dealing with as the nation's trade deficit has swol-
people, and it is especially nice to er office temperatures yield more
productivity. And while some say his len, some American politicians have
help Spanish speakers," she said. decided that imports — notably from
Over time, she added, "I would like sample is too small to be statistical-
ly significant, it is drawing the atten- China — displace American jobs.
to join up with some other people and
tion of some businesses. Currency manipulation by China,
maybe form a small medical billing
company of our own." Japan, South Korea and Taiwan, the
Many commercial buildings ad-
here to guidelines set by the Ameri- major Asian trading partners, has
Experts say there is room for en-
can Society of Heating, Refrigerat- contributed significantly to the loss
trepreneurs in the field, as doctors,
ing and Air-Conditionlng Engineers, of United States factory jobs since
dentists, therapists and other profes-
sionals may turn more to outside a trade group in Atlanta. In 2004, the July 2000, according to a bipartisan
companies to ease their record-keep- group suggested that thermostats be resolution introduced in 2003 by
ing workload. For many of the new set between 68 to 7G degrees during more than 50 House members.
entry-level medical workers, it may the winter, when the humidity is low, Last September, nine House Dem-
require zeal to get ahead. "There are and 72.5 to 80 degrees in the sum- ocrats introduced a bill that would
lots of opportunities, but they are lim- mer. "It's a comfort range," Mr. require the administration to em-
ited," Mr. Dolfman said. "These are bark on negotiations with China to
positions that fill boxes. I wouldn't say Continued on Page 3 set limits on imports of Chinese tex-
they are dead ends, but they are often tiles into the United States.
specific jobs and not careers." Yet while foreign products can dis-
Medical assistants, who take care place production by American work-
ers, many economists argue that im-
Continuad on Page 6 Continued on Page 6


An industry is born—loading ¡Pods for those without Finding happiness in a barbecue restaurant, through a The owner of Li-Lac, a beloved New York candy shop, Makeup artists, in demand, are turning into beautiful
the time or patience. By Jennifer 8. Lee. Page 3. New York City program. By Nicholas Confessore. Page 4. swings eight blocks north. By Louise Kramer. Page 4. people themselves, By Linda Dyett. Page 6.

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