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In New York, Layoffs Lead To Pink-Slip Parties

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In New York, Layoffs Lead To Pink-Slip Parties

Economy

In New York, Layoffs Lead To Pink-Slip Parties

In New York, Layoffs Lead To Pink-Slip Parties

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Wall Street is littered with the resumes of former investment bankers and traders now looking for work. At a recent networking party at a bar in midtown Manhattan, so many people turned up that some had to wait in line to get in.

ROBERT SIEGEL, host:

And if any of those students are thinking about seeking jobs on Wall Street, now is not the opportune time. This year, three big investment banks collapsed or were acquired. The governor of New York estimates that by the end of the year, Wall Street will have eliminated 45,000 jobs. Well, last night in Manhattan, several hundred unemployed investment bankers and analysts gathered for a networking event. It was billed as the first annual Wall Street pink-slip party, and NPR's Jim Zarroli was there.

JIM ZARROLI: Outside the Public House bar on East 41st Street, the line snakes down the sidewalk. Once you're inside, you're given a purple or pink glow-in-the-dark wristband. They're meant to differentiate between Wall Streeters who are unemployed and those who have jobs, at least for now. Standing inside the huge crowd is a young man who says he's job hunting. He only wants me to use his first name, John(ph), because he's a bit self-conscious about being unemployed. More than a year ago, John graduated from college and went to work at Bear Stearns. He thought the firm would last forever, but in March Bear Stearns collapsed. At first, he says, he wasn't worried.

JOHN (Former Bear Stearns Employee): I wasn't in that much of a hurry at first to get a job, just because I didn't think that the markets were going to erode as they did. No one did. No one saw this coming.

ZARROLI: These days he's looking for work in earnest, and it's been tough going. So John has done what smart Wall Streeters do. He's put on his navy-blue blazer and come here to network. This party was organized by Rachel Pine, a marketing consultant. She promoted it on the Web. And Wall Streeters being a viral bunch, she was soon flooded with email.

Ms. RACHEL PINE (Marketing Consultant, Fastbook): We left the boxes open so that people could, like - the way the signup was - so people could write, you know, where they were looking, or where they used to work, or where they worked. And people would write things like, you know, formerly this, used to be here, you know, this bank as long as it's open, that kind of thing.

ZARROLI: Pine says she heard from hundreds of job seekers.

Ms. PINE: What you have happening right now is, I guess, the projection is that in the next couple of weeks a lot more layoffs will happen. You know, a lot of people have a sense that they're not laid off yet, but they may be. So they're beginning to look.

ZARROLI: She also heard from a lot of corporate recruiters who wanted to attend. They were people like Jack Roth who's here looking for people with technology backgrounds. Roth says he hears a lot these days from Wall Streeters looking for work. Usually he has nothing to offer them.

Mr. JACK ROTH (Managing Partner, Distributed Technology Solutions): Unfortunately, we're hearing from very good people looking for jobs. That's scary. There is a consolidation and a contraction of the business.

ZARROLI: Roth says there are jobs these days, but a lot fewer. And companies can be picky, so you have to be really, really good. It's something no one here needs to be told. Not far away stands a young man in a gray suit and no tie clutching a leather briefcase. He only wants me to use his initials, C.W. Two weeks ago, he says he lost his job at an investment bank. It wasn't voluntary, he mutters. As he gazes around the room, he talks about how competitive the job market is.

C.W.: And many individuals here are probably high-level executives who have experience, and they're out here looking for work. And if they're willing to take a pay cut, that just makes it harder for anyone further down the rung.

ZARROLI: But C.W. quickly moves away. Wall Street is a place famous for its machismo, and people like C.W. don't like to stand around and emote. The people here also know something else. The financial markets are governed by cycles. Not long ago, times were good and jobs were there for the taking. Now the economy has turned and the future has suddenly become a lot less certain. Jim Zarroli, NPR News, New York.

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