The following appeared as a letter to the editor of a national newspaper.

"Your recent article on corporate downsizing* in Elthyria maintains that the majority of competent workers who have lost jobs as a result of downsizing face serious economic hardship, often for years, before finding other suitable employment. But this claim is undermined by a recent report on the Elthyrian economy, which found that since 1999 far more jobs have been created than have been eliminated, bringing the unemployment rate in Elthyria to its lowest level in decades. Moreover, two-thirds of these newly created jobs have been in industries that tend to pay above-average wages, and the vast majority of these jobs are full-time."

*Downsizing is the process whereby corporations deliberately make themselves smaller, reducing the number of their employees.

Write a response in which you discuss what specific evidence is needed to evaluate the argument and explain how the evidence would weaken or strengthen the argument.

In this letter to the editor of a national newspaper, the author claims that corporate downsizing in Elthyria does not lead to economic hardship for those who lost their jobs, rejecting a statement made by the editor earlier. The author’s main lines of reasoning are that, since 1999, more jobs have been created and two-thirds of those jobs were purportedly well-paid. On the façade, the author’s argument is persuasive. However, there are some gaps in his/her reasoning that need to be filled. Until three pieces of evidence are presented and evaluated, the credibility of this argument remains uncertain.

First, we need to find out who are benefiting from the newly created jobs. Citing the information that there were more jobs created than eliminated, the author assumes that it was the workers who lost their job due to corporate downsizing that got the new jobs, and thus maintain their economic standards. Yet, it is ambiguous whether or not the new jobs were indeed taken by these workers. If surveys or investigations show that the workers taking these new positions are those who have working experiences and were laid off by other corporations, it would be reasonable to conclude that they did find new employment and have means to support their lives and families. With this evidence, the author’s argument would be more convincing and the editor’s weakened. On the other hand, however, if these new jobs are taken by people with no working experiences or those from other cities, states, or even countries, then it is possible that the laid off workers are still unemployed. The lowest rate of unemployment in this case does not mean workers who lost their jobs succeeded in finding new jobs. If so, the author’s claim is invalid.

Next, granted that the such workers did find newly created jobs, we still need to ask when those jobs were created and taken. In the letter, the author mentions a recent report that the jobs have been created since 1999. Although the general time range is known, the exact year remains unclear. If vacant jobs started to emerge right after the corporate downsizing, it is possible for workers to find jobs immediately after they lose their previous ones, in direct contrast to the editor’s claim and in support of the author’s argument. Under such circumstances, even if there is a transition for changing jobs, workers could still receive their salaries with no or little gap in between, which might not lead to serious economic hardship. Nevertheless, if it was not until recently that those jobs were created, the workers might have a longer period of unemployment. Without stable income, the worker by no means are capable of improving their economic status and living standards, thus weakening the author’s claim.

Finally, even if we concede that all the laid-off workers found new jobs quickly, we need to evaluate how well the workers are paid in their new positions. Here, the author mentions that two thirds of the newly created jobs pay above-average wages and the vast majority of them are full-time. Yet from this information we still do not know how much exactly those workers are paid. While it is possible that by entering the new positions, they were paid more than what they used to get in their previous positions, we cannot overlook the possibility that their new jobs did not bring them sufficient wages. If it is the former case, their economic conditions should not be decreasing, which strengthens the author’s argument. On the other hand, if they are paid poorly in their new positions, downsizing indeed lowers their economic status, consistent with the editor’s conclusion. Therefore, to correctly evaluate the author’s argument, we need to know the workers’ income now and before.

Overall, before these pieces of evidence are collected and analyzed, the author’s argument that downsizing improves economy remains inconclusive. In this case, only when we know who occupied the new positions, when they occupied them, and how well they are paid can we determine if the author’s claim is valid.

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