The Labor Department is shutting down the office that for 47 years has collected, compiled and published information on nearly every kind of available job in the nation.
The move, designed to save $2.4 million in annual operating costs, will eliminate 87 of the 97 remaining jobs in the occupational analysis division, and close all of its eight offices, except a record-keeping center in Raleigh, N.C.
The office was created in 1935, when, as one of its staffers puts it, "we had too many people and not enough jobs." Some critics now charge that eliminating the agency at a time of high unemployment will make it that much more difficult for the Reagan administration to to put America back to work.
"I don't know what we're going to do now to help people find jobs," said Adaline Padgett, a 69-year-old occupational analyst who has worked in the division since 1943. "We were the people who collected the information for schools, job training programs and employment services. Everybody used our material."
"But," she added, "there will be no division of occupational analysis left. We will have no way of finding out about the new jobs and updating our material."
The division publishes two best sellers, the "Dictionary of Occupational Titles" and the "Guide for Occupational Exploration," both of which are widely used by schools and placement services. The books cost $11 each and, despite that price, are still in great demand.
But Padgett said the four staffers now in the division's Washington office can't fill the orders. "We have a second volume of the occupational guide ready to go, but we don't have any money to print it."
"We're getting calls all the time. I can give people information about job classifications and training requirements over the phone, but I can't give them any books," said Padgett, who thinks she may lose her job in this round of cuts.
A Labor Department spokesman, speaking on background, said the department plans to continue publishing the dictionary--which currently contains descriptions of 30,000 jobs. But the spokesman said future volumes will contain less information because "the research has been drastically reduced."
In recent months, the department also has announced that it will no longer publish its "Directory of National Unions and Employe Associations," which contains vital information, such as membership numbers, on most of the nation's labor organizations. Department officials have argued that none of the cuts will impair the department's ability to help and communicate with the people it is supposed to represent--American workers. But Padgett, at least, has not been persuaded.
"I don't say that management, or a president doesn't have the right to make those kinds of decisions," she said. "But they just don't understand the consequences . . . "