South Florida workers adjust to life after pay cuts

A friend of mine has laid off her baby-sitter/housekeeper. She just couldn't afford the help when she and her husband both endured pay cuts. It means she often picks her kids up from after-school care, tackles cooking, cleaning and homework and then heads to her computer.

As my friend realizes, it's better to get a pay cut than a pink slip. Still, if your paycheck suddenly is smaller it requires a whole new way of managing work and life.

And so it is with the recession hitting most workers in our wallets. We are adjusting to doing our existing workload, and more, for less money. We want to believe that the salary freezes, dwindling bonuses, commissions and tips and harsh pay cuts are temporary. But at the moment, the economy shows no sign that wages will rise anytime soon.

These wage cuts have snowballed across virtually every industry, resetting paychecks nationwide. More than half of the 200 companies surveyed in May by outplacement consultant Challenger, Gray & Christmas said they had instituted salary cuts and freezes in the past 12 months to stay afloat amid the economic slump. And a new Watson Wyatt survey indicates that some that have not already frozen or reduced salaries are considering these actions.

''Employees know the market is tough,'' says Jorge Roca, a recruiter with Spherion Corp. in Miami. ''They have to adjust their lifestyle.'' Roca says even hiring employers are offering less pay when filling jobs.

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