Uchitelle, Louis 1932-

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Uchitelle, Louis 1932-


Born March 21, 1932, in New York, NY; son of Abraham and Alice Lee Uchitelle; married Joan Eva Shapiro, October 7, 1966; children: Isabel Anne, Jennifer Emily. Education: University of Michigan, B.A., 1954.


Home—Scarsdale, NY. Office—New York Times, 229 W. 43rd St., New York, NY 10036-3959.


Business and finance journalist. Mount Vernon Daily Argus, Mount Vernon, NY, reporter, 1955-57; Associated Press, reporter, 1957-1964, foreign correspondent and bureau chief, San Juan, PR, 1964-67, foreign correspondent and bureau chief, Buenos Aires, Argentina, 1967-1973, supervising editor of news features, New York, NY, 1974-76, business news editor, 1977-1980; New York Times, New York, NY, assistant business and finance editor, 1980-87, economics reporter, 1987—. Columbia University School of General Studies, New York, NY, journalism instructor, 1976-1989; Russell Sage Foundation, New York, NY, visiting scholar, 2002-03.


George Polk Award for "The Downsizing of America," 1996.


The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences, Knopf (New York, NY), 2006, reprinted with a new afterword, Vintage Books (New York, NY), 2007.


Writer Louis Uchitelle was born and raised in New York City. He attended the University of Michigan, where he earned his undergraduate degree, then returned to New York where he worked in a number of positions as a reporter and then as a foreign correspondent, first writing for the Daily Argus in Mount Vernon, and then working for the Associated Press (AP). Working for the AP, he traveled widely, serving as both a foreign correspondent and bureau chief in both San Juan, Puerto Rico, and in Buenos Aires, Argentina, before ending up back at the New York office. He worked as the supervising editor of the news feature desk and then as editor of the business news before making a move to the New York Times. At the Times, Uchitelle spent seven years as the business and finance editor before heading back out into the field as an economics reporter. In 1996, he won the George Polk Award for a series for the Times called "The Downsizing of America," on which he was the head writer. In addition to his writing duties, Uchitelle has taught classes in journalism at both Columbia University and New York University, and was the Russell Sage Foundation Visiting Scholar for the 2002-03 academic year.

Uchitelle's The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences addresses the difficult issues surrounding employment policies in the United States. Uchitelle notes that layoffs are in most likelihood inevitable, but the attitude toward them should be less casual and the leaders responsible should own up to their own role in the decisions rather than making it seem that low productivity or some other error on the part of the workers is the actual reason behind the layoffs themselves. The situation, according to Uchitelle, is beginning to cause a domino effect in which formerly laid off employees eventually rejoin the work force, but in lesser positions or for lower pay, and in addition are suffering from blows to their sense of self-worth that have additional repercussions, including lessened productivity in the work place and a higher tendency to get sick. In addition, Uchitelle suggests that a thorough examination of major companies that avoid laying off employees seems to indicate that they are more successful than those that succumb to the easy fix of laying off workers. In an interview with Jessica Marquez for Workforce Management, Uchitelle comments on the changing attitude toward corporate downturns, noting that when the Chrysler Corporation needed assistance in the 1980s, it was the government that came to their aid. He goes on to state: "Today the discussion is all about high labor costs and we are blaming the workers. The role of the government isn't even on the table. That shows how society's perspective on layoffs has changed." David Kusnet, in a review for the Washington Monthly, noted that not all of Uchitelle's suggestions are actually preventive, stating that he "does offer a grab-bag of recommendations for reducing layoffs. Unfortunately, many of them—like raising the minimum wage—are worthwhile ideas that have little to do with making existing jobs more secure." In a contribution to the Monthly Labor Review, Michael T. Wolf and Solidelle Fortier Wasser opined: "Uchitelle provides sympathetic case studies of lives ruined by seemingly senseless layoffs. Between the personal case studies lies well-documented evidence of real economic problems and criticisms of our free-market society." Computerworld reviewer Thomas Hoffman found the book "a thought-provoking read for IT and business managers alike, who should explore all options for improving the bottom line before wielding the ax."



America, July 31, 2006, Gerald F. Cavanagh, "Money over People," p. 33.

Booklist, February 15, 2006, David Siegfried, review of The Disposable American: Layoffs and Their Consequences, p. 28.

Choice, September, 2006, H.G. Foster, review of The Disposable American, p. 159.

Computerworld, September 11, 2006, Thomas Hoffman, review of The Disposable American, p. 56.

Futurist, July 1, 2006, review of The Disposable American, p. 62.

Harvard Business Review, June, 2006, John T. Landry, review of The Disposable American, p. 32.

Labor History, August, 2007, Darryl Holter, review of The Disposable American, p. 398.

Library Journal, February 15, 2006, Duncan Stewart, review of The Disposable American, p. 138.

Monthly Labor Review, March, 2007, Michael T. Wolf and Solidelle Fortier Wasser, "Layoff Effects," p. 69.

Multinational Monitor, July 1, 2006, "Disposable Workers," p. 28.

National Review, April 10 2006, "Looking for a Reason to Be Gloomy about the Economy?," p. 6.

New York Times, March 29, 2006, "How Pink Slips Hurt More Than Workers," p. 6.

New York Times Book Review, April 2, 2006, "Americans Idle," p. 20.

Publishers Weekly, January 16, 2006, review of The Disposable American, p. 53.

Reference & Research Book News, August, 2006, review of The Disposable American.

Sales & Marketing Management, June, 2006, review of The Disposable American, p. 54.

USA Today, April 10, 2006, "Author Seeks Answer to Meaning of Layoffs," p. 6.

Washington Monthly, July-August, 2006, David Kusnet, "The Book of Jobs," p. 14.

Workforce Managment, May 8, 2006, Jessica Marquez, "5 Questions for Louis Uchitelle," p. 44.


Bookslut,http://www.bookslut.com/ (July 1, 2006), review of The Disposable American.

Ehrenreich Blog,http://ehrenreich.blogs.com/ (May 27, 2006), author interview.

Random House,http://www.randomhouse.com/ (February 5, 2008), author profile.