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Job Transfers Not Worth It, Study Finds

As companies downsize, the remaining employees are transferred more often than in the past. But such transfers are often not promotions and tend to result in a decline in living standards - especially among two-income families, a new survey finds.

The survey, by the University of Tennessee and Right Management Consultants Inc., finds companies are increasingly relying on transfers to meet strategic goals such as improving productivity or cutting the size of the corporation.

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``The flattening of company structures has forced some workers to accept transfers merely to stay employed, and greatly reduced promotional opportunities for others,'' the study says.

``Couples who have been through one or more relocations in which they not only made no economic gains but actually lost ground are feeling frustrated, cautious, and skeptical about moving again, it says.

Paul Wesman, spokesman for Philadelphia-based Right Management, says ``some companies are acutely aware of this as a problem and are begging to deal with it.''

The study surveyed more than 3,200 employees or their spouses at 101 companies in the United States, Canada, and Europe.

Among its findings were that 23 percent of those surveyed reported a decline in living standards after their moves.

The number rose to 42 percent among two-career couples, who often reported, difficulties in finding a job for the ``trailing spouse.'' On average it took five to six months for the spouse to find a job, often with a pay cut, Mr. Wesman says.

The study says dual-income families were consistently less favorable toward moving than single-income families.

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The share of two income couples rose from 47 percent in 1989 to 59 percent in 1992, according to government data cited by the survey. It found 65 percent of those questioned were in two-income families.

``When you start removing rungs from the corporate ladder, you end up with fewer promotional opportunities, and more lateral movement,'' Wesman says.

The survey recommended that companies make relocations part of long-term career planning and provide job-hunting help to spouses of relocated employees.

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