30 Issues: Victims of 2008: The Unemployed

Thursday, September 13, 2012

30 Issues in 30 Days is our election year series on the important issues facing the country this election year. Today: How the victims of the Great Recession are coping and what the government can do to help them. Visit the 30 Issue home page for all of the conversations.

Open Prep: Questions, Articles, and Links to Get You Started

Key Questions

  • What can government do to help get the long-term unemployed get back to work?
  • How can we strengthen the safety net?
  • Which demographics have been affected the most by the Great Recession--and why?

What are your key questions on this topic? Post them below and get the conversation going!

Guests Include:

30 Issues Data from the WNYC Data News Team

Got a Follow Up?

Each Friday, we'll be following up on one of that week's issues. Got a particular follow-up question from this conversation? Comment below or tweet us. 


Diana Furchtgott-Roth, David Leonhardt and Robert Reich

Comments [84]

Dorb2 from New Jersey

What can government do to get long-term unemployed back to work? Bring the jobs back from overseas via the tax system. The US controls commerce as rigidly as any authoritarian gov't anywhere in the world, via our tax system. Change the tax structure so that imports are taxed on their overall affect on the US economy. Jobs lost to lower cost production overseas affect out ability to purchase those very same products.

What made Henry Ford great was that workers were paid enough to be able to buy the products they manufactured. Once the same product is manufactured in a lower cost and different economic reality, where does the US worker get the money to buy that product?

Importing products is exporting jobs of people who can no longer afford to buy those products.

Sep. 15 2012 09:33 PM
Amy from Manhattan

Ms. Furchtgott-Roth assumes that if 2 things happen in the same timeframe, one causes the other...& she thinks she knows which one. Maybe unemployment benefits are extended because people can't get jobs, rather than people not bothering to get jobs because unemployment benefits are extended.

Sep. 14 2012 01:59 AM
Joanfr NJ

Your guest has been feeding at the Public Trough advising three Presidents on economic policy since the 1980's. I don't consider that appropriate experience for offering solutions to the present unemployment situation in this recession.

Her language is reminiscent of talk of lazy "Welfare Queens" who ignore
alarm clocks and watch TV all day while collecting their checks.It is
insulting and shows ignorance of the real situation facing unemployed
Americans in the 21st century. "Set your clock and wake up, Ms.Roth.

Sep. 13 2012 02:28 PM
HR Technology hurts the LT unemployed

New HR technology - particularly lengthy
web-based employment applications are PARTICULARLY
harmful to the long term unemployed.

One can spend an hour filling out such an application - but

Automated Filters make sense for the employers - it
lowers the number of HR people they need to hire.
These include negatively framed filters - eg. noone
who has a past criminal record (including for example
misdemeanor protesting), and noone who is currently
unemployed. Positively framed filters have a similar
who are currently employed doing work IN the area or
a related area).

These are AUTOMATED COMPUTER DRIVEN (and therefore compassionless)
WALLS that KEEP the long term unemployed in their sad state.
They never even get past the computers to MEET a human being,
and spend more and more time banging their heads against the machine.

Sep. 13 2012 02:08 PM
CTD from next post

RE : Taking low-wage "lower"/OTHER skilled jobs.

In other words, old skills and experience will be wasted.
You are unlikely to EVER recover to work in your real
trained profession.

This is CRUEL to the individuals involved and a GROSS
WASTE to society.

Firing people is like dumping pollution in the ground water.
It creates GIANT (currently untaxed) negative externalities.

It's a shame that so few policy makers have PERSONALLY experienced
long term unemployment during their own careers prior to
being hired as policy makers.

Perhaps that's why we have the policies we do.

(I particularly hope your conservative guest reads and
considers this personally.)

(the writer of this is highly educated in MANY fields, has
been flexible and moved and retrained and yet is STILL
part of the long term unemployed....)

Sep. 13 2012 02:00 PM
Lower paying jobs may dilute existing skills

Your guests fall into a common set of misconceptions
about skilled applicants and lower paid work :

1) Just because the new job is lower paid and
requires less education does NOT mean that
YOU would be good at it!

Probably most of your guests - even if they are
brilliantly educated economists and policy makers -
would NOT necessarily be GOOD at stacking boxes or
working at a checkout counter. In fact they may
be far worse at it than most people currently doing
that job!

That is not where their differential advantage is,
and their education and experience would probably actually
GET IN THE WAY of their new role.

2) They probably wouldn't be hired for that position!
Who'd want to hire a middle aged ex-professor who
is probably feeling lousy about life even if they hide it,
when they could hire a younger or less highly educated
person to do the same job, who may have better specific
related skills and experience, who may be thrilled with
the job (or at least not unhappy) and is less likely to

3) Their performance ratings would probably be bad.
Recall their supervisors and new colleagues may not
be all that fond of them - and may resent their better
past opportunities and positions and look down on them
for their failure to do well with such a "good hand".
They are probably have less in common with their colleagues
and supervisors than other employees - and social psych research
indicated this is very important in evaluation.

4) While they are scraping along doing mediocrely (or even
well) at their new low-paid rachet job - their REAL
JOB SKILLS and chance of actually USING their lifetime
of education, and experience and highly specialized
trained skills ARE DECAYING. They are less and less
likely to ever make it back. Their skills (and perhaps
more importantly their PERCEIVED SKILLS by potential employers)
are decaying. WOULD you hire an economics professor
who lost her/his job and has worked for the past 5 years
as a box stacker ? Maybe as an underpaid adjunct (who
tend to earn less than the box stackers) but not as
a full time tenure track professor.

Sep. 13 2012 01:58 PM
The downward RACHET effect of accepting lower wage

Your commentators have failed to address (or perhaps
even consider) an important long term effect :

When you accept a dramatically lower wage, you have
RACHETED yourself - in the LONG TERM - to a dramatically
lower wage.

All SUBSEQUENT employers will know your employment and
wage history (as a condition of applying) and are UNLIKELY
to offer you much more than you were making at your MOST
RECENT job - after all if you'd accept working for that wage
before, they figure you'd probably also be willing to work
for 5 % more. This means that by taking the lower paying job,
you will LOCK IN low wages for a decade or more to come.

This will also have a long term effect on the broader economy.

NOT ALL JOBS ARE EQUAL. Underemployment is harder to measure
but still important. LOCKING IN A LOW WAGE will effectively
force the person to accept similar wages lower for a decade -
even if the economy eventually recovers.

Since none of your guests have PERSONALLY experienced long
term unemployment, they probably have not considered this
important effect.

Sep. 13 2012 01:42 PM

Hiring was FAST and INEXPENSIVE.

At 20,000 per year, one could hire 10 million
people for 2 years for only 400 Billion dollars.
These people will gain income and the pride and social
connections of work, and will continue to gain relevant
on the job skills and experience (the real skill that matter).
They will spend and restore the economy from the bottom up.
Even if the administration costs are 100 % of the direct
costs of hiring, this still makes the total price $800 billion -
less than the cost of the stimulus (or various wars) and
FAR more efficient at restoring our economy and people's lives.

Hiring could be done IN MONTHS (it was in the 1930's so why NOT

It is incentivizing business to hire when they don't want to
that doesn't work - YET ANOTHER LOW IMPACT TOP-DOWN economic
strategy from the Demopublicans.


Sep. 13 2012 01:35 PM
jg8912 from CT

Age-discrimination is the elephant in the room that no one seems to talk about. Huge problem. How can they raise the retirement age when no one over fifty can get anything other than a menial low-skill job?

Sep. 13 2012 12:30 PM
jg8912 from CT

I actually found your guest's comments and her viewpoint offensive. I think most people who work for a living would also. Her plan for getting people back to work seems to be to let them starve. Sort of a "let them eat cake" attitude. I'll bet she's never had to wait tables or get her hands dirty to get by.

She's part of that Republican constituency that says "I built it" but really means "It's all about me!". It's ironic to see the bible-thumping hypocritical conservatives essentially yelling "My strength and the might of my hand built all this," when the bible specifically enjoins us not to forget that all wealth comes from God. Doesn't the bible also say something about helping the poor? Hmmm. The Republicans want to keep their boot on the necks of working people (aka indentured servants).

Sep. 13 2012 12:28 PM
Stephan from Queens NY

I have been out of work for over 18 months. I just can’t understand how I keep hearing that employers need high skill tech people. I have a BS & MS in computer engineering. I started out as a software developer back in the 70’s when it was not a fad to be a programmer. Now I am over 55 and can’t even get an interview within the technology jobs. I think (like many of your callers stated) this all has to do with age. Like I say you can never be too young or too thin in America. This is the mind set of this society, kick out the old folks they make too much money and they have too much experience. I understand paradigm shift and all that kind of talk, and I can adapt to change because I believe everything must change; but how can I compete if they sent my job overseas and expect me to change my profession after it to me over 30 year to get to the expert level. I guess I should retrain myself as commercial airplane pilot or better yet a brain surgeon.

Sep. 13 2012 12:18 PM
Becky from Manhattan

The last guest (Furchgott-Roth) was fascinating! I only ever hear more left-leaning views on WNYC and in NYC news generally, and it is so interesting to hear a wider range of ideas. Plus, the woman clearly knows labor issues and unemployment inside-out.

Please have her and others like her back. It might convince me to start donating again. :-)

Sep. 13 2012 12:16 PM
Kate from Washington Heights

Hi Brian - At last - I thought the right-winger had ideas worthy of consideration and I'd like to hear more from her. I encourage you to have her back on. Thanks for your great work.

Sep. 13 2012 12:11 PM

And by the way, can so-called economists and politicians stop comparing the US and German economies. Its like comparing apples and oranges.

1. Most German companies are privately owned; most are not publicly traded. Therefore German companies can make longer term decisions and investments. In the US most companies are on the stock exchanges and business decisions are dependent upon each quarter.

2. Layoffs tend to be lower in Germany as family owned business are more focused on quality and reputation than profits and growth. US business are strictly profit driven.

3. The German economy's biggest industry is still manufacturing.

4. German corporate taxes are low, but their individual taxes are high.

5. German workers get universal healthcare, universal childcare and 5 weeks of vacation.

Sep. 13 2012 12:06 PM
Brian from Red Bank, NJ


First, if the caller who self identified as a LEAN 6-sigma production expert would call us here at the NJMEP. ( we may be able to help him with some work.

Second, the conversation and points by your guests re:retraining are a bit silly. When you look at all of the jobs we are reported to need for the next 30 years you typically find that they're highly skilled (nursing & health care, engineering, etc.) and not likely to be learnable in 96 weeks (let alone a standard benefit period). Even if they were learnable in that time you'd still be looking for a college level education and as has been said on the show in the past, the quality of college has gone through the roof and would never be covered with a retraining program.

Last, the tax issues raised are simply laughable, no one ever went into business because they would get a better tax rate and for government to think that entrepreneurs are held back by a repeal of the Bush-era-cuts is very much like saying that people don't become artists because the cost of paint is too high.

Thanks again for a great show.

Sep. 13 2012 12:01 PM
David from Piscataway, NJ

I was out of work for more than a year. I have enhance my skills by going to school. I am currently looking aggressively in the job market. The main source is outsourcing jobs away from america. USA used to be number one in many things like the steel mills. Why did we outsource the jobs to China as an example. On some of my many interviews is "you been out of the job market for about a year or more. The employer dont want to hire you" or "lack of skills". But if you go to school you get pentalized because your out of work. Employers also ask "why would you want to work for us at a lower rate".

Sep. 13 2012 12:00 PM
jg8912 from CT

To anyone making less than $500,000 per year:

The Republicans do not have your best interests in mind.

Republican policies are driven by "trickle-down" economics which were first espoused by Ronald Reagan. These policies are what has led to stagnant median wages for the last 30 years and the increasing concentration of wealth among the ultra-wealthy.

Sep. 13 2012 11:58 AM
Steve from Manhattan

The unemployed spend their days abusing substances and watching TV?! Talk about a GROSS generalization. I'd love to see Ms. Roth out of work for a couple months and forced to take a low-paying job -- like flipping burgers in a fast food joint -- because she her benefits will be cut off rather than hope for a better offer befitting her education and experience. ... I'm surprised she didn't recommend that the government open thousands of debtors' prisons and orphanages. Anything to save the Top One Percent from paying a penny more in taxes.

Sep. 13 2012 11:58 AM
Janet from Manhattan

I'd like to see Diana Furchtgott-Roth lose all her job and all her savings. Then she could get back to work in one of those low paying jobs that she is encouraging people to get. I have a feeling if she had to walk in the shoes of the people she's talking about she would sing a different tune.

Sep. 13 2012 11:57 AM
kelly from Paris

That last guest is a brainless talking point machine. Proposing that, for example, a former executive who lost his job in the crash and has a family of four to feed, a mortgage, car payments, health insurance premiums, college tuition, etc, to just go work at Mc Donald's instead of getting unemployment to help him meet those expenses? Right! Just go live in a cardboard box with your kids while you work a min wage job at McDonald's! WTF.

Sep. 13 2012 11:55 AM
Andrea from Philadelphia

I can't believe how patronizing this woman Furchtgott-Roth is. The "skills" of getting up on time, staying all day, not watching TV all day. Isn't this the conservative argument against welfare? People who are unemployed already have the "skills" (I'd say habits, but hey, that's just me) she mentioned.

Sep. 13 2012 11:54 AM

Wow. Has anyone seen the Boys from Brazil? After listening to Furchtgott-Roth (seriously - is that her name?) I suddenly had a nightmare vision of an army of Thatcher clones. I'm off to take a pill.

Sep. 13 2012 11:54 AM
jg8912 from CT

@simpsonsmovieblew. LOL!!! Why sleep at all? It's not a civil right! The poor and working classes don't deserve to sleep. LOL.

Sep. 13 2012 11:53 AM

Lets understand that Diana Furchtgott-Roth is a member of the Manhattan Institute, who are far right when it comes to economics. So what she espouses doesn't surprise me.

Sep. 13 2012 11:53 AM
Guest from North Jersey

This woman is deeply offensive. I have been unemployed and looking for well over a year. I have a Masters level education and a stellar resume, including a research fellowship at Harvard. I don't use drugs, and I don't sit in front of the TV (I don't even have TV). I also ran out of UI benefits. If my partner wasn't gainfully employed, I'd be screwed. Who does this woman think she is making such broad character assassinations of vast groups of people about whom she knows nothing? No surprise she's a Republican. She lives in fantasy land. Take note, people. This woman's ignorance of the reality of most people is a perfect example of the mindset of the GOP on the whole.

Sep. 13 2012 11:53 AM
Yvonne from Park Slope, Brooklyn

There are 3 things effecting long term employment that I do not hear sufficiently addressed generally in what I see and hear in the media:

1. Employers avoid the long-term unemployed under the impression that they must be inferior or they would have been hired by now; employers may need incentives to hire the long-term unemployed that are meaningful to the employer.

2. Since the 1980's, employers have been "downsizing" ... and making huge profits when things get better by not rehiring and just expecting those who are left to do the jobs of 2 or 3; unless this changes, politicians can promise to increase employment but employers are making too much profit by simply expecting staff to do more with less ... and they do ...despite stress.

3. Budget cuts that target government workers both hurt women, the long-term unemployed and the older worker and affect the quality of our schools, hospitals and nursing homes ... this, in some situations, goes beyond employment and is literally life and death in terms of reduced quality of service due to staff shortage.

Sep. 13 2012 11:52 AM
Peter in WaHi from Washington Heights

What a heartless, Adam-Smith-loving, Ayn-Rand wannabe!

(I was out of work for 3 years until this June. If my spouse wasn't working, we would have lost our home and been out on the streets.)

Sep. 13 2012 11:52 AM
jg8912 from CT

It was the policies of 2001 to 2008 that got us into this mess. Some people have short memories. Or are in denial. Or are just dishonest.

Sep. 13 2012 11:51 AM
Steve from Queens

I am waiting for Gov. Romney to create that 12 million jobs when he becomes president. Then I can work 3 jobs when this happens.

Sep. 13 2012 11:51 AM
Nancy Cadet from Fort greene

Diana Furchgott is lucky she has a sinecure at the Manhattan Institute; otherwise she d be unemployed since it is obvious she can do nothin,g but repeat discredited GOP talking points and promote the failed economic policies of the neo cons and Bush administration.

We don't have amnesia and we remember how this ideology failed . The debt scare mongering is useless . Please invite economists Dean Baker and Jared Bernstein . They know what they re talking about and work in the reality based community.

Sep. 13 2012 11:51 AM
al from nyc

this woman is out of her mind....if things go her way...expect nothing but a revolution over the ridiculously rich

Sep. 13 2012 11:51 AM
The Truth from Becky

I agree, underemployed beats UNemployed!

Sep. 13 2012 11:51 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Maybe the media is obliged to air nonsense from the Right, because it's constituency is still sizeable. But there's no journalistic obligation to uncritically treat it as credible. Maybe a memo should be issued...

Folks not only need jobs, they need DECENT-PAYING jobs because, newsflash, the income-inequality crisis and its risks are REAL. And any deficit-reduction program must be implemented in ways that counteract it. Republicans are non-responsive about this, and the media lets them get away with it.

Sep. 13 2012 11:50 AM
Jeff pappas from Dumbo

You could do a whole show on mirco business/ underemployed we dont pay into unemployment Ins , yet we are the true entreprneurs.

Sep. 13 2012 11:50 AM
Mike from Manhattan

Germany has had a job sharing program to keep unemployment low. And it is still much harder to fire a person in Germany than in the USA. She is obfuscating the issue with irrelevant data.

Sep. 13 2012 11:50 AM
Nancy Cadet from Fort greene

Diana Furchgott is lucky she has a sinecure at the Manhattan Institute; otherwise she d be unemployed since it is obvious she can do nothin,g but repeat discredited GOP talking points and promote the failed economic policies of the neo cons and Bush administration.

We don't have amnesia and we remember how this ideology failed . The debt scare mongering is useless . Please invite economists Dean Baker and Jared Bernstein . They know what they re talking about and work in the reality based community.

Sep. 13 2012 11:49 AM
Sarah from UES

"This woman has obviously never been unemployed."

She also seems to believe in slavery. I wish EVERY Republican would tell the Average American how they feel.

She is insane. I love that taking off work makes you lazy! What about George Bush's vacations? She is a disgusting human being.

Sep. 13 2012 11:49 AM

Retraining program would work only if combined with the following rehab program --

Lose addictions to:
1. health care;
2. food;
4. education;
5. sleeping in a bed.

As with more successful countries, such as China, retrainers might also encourage Americans to eat pets.

Sep. 13 2012 11:49 AM
jg8912 from CT

The unemployed a watching TV and abusing substances? Wow, talk about stereotypes. What does your guest base this statement on? Pure fantasy?

Sep. 13 2012 11:49 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

"They spend the day watching TV" - - - - Nice one.

Sep. 13 2012 11:48 AM
James l

Who is this fool?!

So unemployed people "sit around watching tv and abusing various substances"? What and idiot!!!!

Sep. 13 2012 11:48 AM

Furchtgott-Roth is cheering the race to the bottom!

Sep. 13 2012 11:48 AM
Henry from Manhattan

John A asked:
“What does the black arrow represent?”
“In general, its bad form to publish a graphic with unexplained elements contained.”

The graph is interactive. You can hover your cursor over certain areas along the lines to get a info-window.

The black arrow reads:

“Peak Census Hiring”
“The U.S. Census Bureau hied about 800,000 temporaty workers for the 2010 census, peaking in the spring.”

Sep. 13 2012 11:48 AM
Mike from Manhattan

This woman has obviously never been unemployed.

Sep. 13 2012 11:48 AM
jg8912 from CT

Brian, you should challenge your guest. The effective corporate income tax rate in the US is the lowest in decades.

Sep. 13 2012 11:46 AM
Mike from Manhattan

Taxes are a ruse for the rubes. Low taxes in the face of low demand will not increase job creation, because the current capacity will still be greater than demand. Do these right wing ideologue/economists think no one else has taken an econ course or never paid attention during a history course?

Sep. 13 2012 11:46 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

It amazes me that Ms. Furchtgott-Roth, who claims to be an economist, has no grasp of basic ARITHMETIC. How can the government provide all these extra benefits to unemployed individuals while cutting taxes 20%? Shut her up.

Sep. 13 2012 11:46 AM

Effective corporate tax rate is 0.9%. The legal rate of 35% is a maguffin. They make the 13.4% that Romney paid look lavish.

Sep. 13 2012 11:46 AM
Amy from Manhattan

I'd like to see better ways for the system to help freelancers, many of whom are also not getting enough work. Both aid in finding work & the unemployment system are set up w/full-time employment as the default; anything to do w/freelance work is badly grafted on. I recently found out that according to the unemployment office (at least in NY State), if you're self-employed, your efforts to find work are considered to *be* work (that you're doing for yourself as your own employer), so days on which you answered an ad or sent out a resume have to be reported as days you worked, reducing your unemployment payment. But in order to stay eligible for unemployment, you have to keep looking for work. Talk about a catch-22!

I'm on hold, but I don't know if I'm getting on, or even if any more calls will be taken, so I'll post this now (but stay on hold, just in case).

Sep. 13 2012 11:45 AM
John A. from Firefox, 2010 version

Does not work at all with my browser.

Sep. 13 2012 11:44 AM
Nancy from Westchester

I am actually among the pre-2008 unemployed. We went from being a two-income family to a one-income family, and my unpaid job is to make sure our employed head of household can get to work and that our family continues to function.

It has been touched on several times, but what hasn't been explicitly discussed is the move in the general economy from traditional full-time jobs to freelance jobs. I have two recent college grad children who ARE working, but in an assortment of freelance positions. Our entire family is dependent on one person's job for health care, for example. If I want work it will also be freelance work, for which I am qualified.

We need structural support for freelancers, not just health insurance but much more, too much to go into here. This will make it possible for more people to do this sort of work, which IS available.

Sep. 13 2012 11:44 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan



Sep. 13 2012 11:43 AM
The Truth from Becky

He who shall not be named, should stop getting his stats from Google.

Sep. 13 2012 11:42 AM
antonio from baySide

I was on hold, but decided to write in.
I have been unemployed off and on since 2009. What I was going to say was, Richard Wolff the economist @ the new school had mentioned that Italy uses a plan which enables the unemployed to group together their benefits towards a collective, to create a small business.

Sep. 13 2012 11:40 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan


(Yo, Brian, thanks, bro.)

Sep. 13 2012 11:39 AM
Amy from Manhattan

Wait, people in lower-paid jobs don't have to work as hard? Since when???

Sep. 13 2012 11:39 AM

Simple and easy answer to make the 50+ YO worker attractive again...Lower the MediCare eligible age...Any employer would snap up workers that come with their own HC insurance (or w/o any HC insurance expense) very quickly. Higher premiums for those 50 plussers that are actually using MediCare for healthcare coverage....but that's a small price to pay for continued employment.

Sep. 13 2012 11:38 AM

Hover, John, Hover

Sep. 13 2012 11:38 AM
Sheldon from Brooklyn

Ha "Martin" - loved the "sun god" reference. Believe me, I got it. Dinesh D' Souza has made an impression on you.

Sep. 13 2012 11:35 AM
fuva from harlemworld


Sep. 13 2012 11:33 AM
The Truth from Becky

romney: "We are gonna help those who can't get work" HOW???

Sep. 13 2012 11:32 AM
fuva from harlemworld

Those who resist the idea of government lead/sponsored job re-training seem shortsighted. Yes, govt is too often inefficient. But who else will do it? Where's the profit motive? Please explain.

Sep. 13 2012 11:31 AM
John A

What does the black arrow represent?
In general, its bad form to publish a graphic with unexplained elements contained.

Sep. 13 2012 11:30 AM
jg8912 from CT

The reason for wide-spread unemployment and under-employment? Two words: free trade.

"Here's a bit more information from the Economic Policy Institute:

For a better understanding of the situation, it helps to review some basics. Exports support jobs in the United States, while imports displace domestic production and jobs. In 2004, U.S. imports from Mexico and Canada were $412 billion, while U.S. exports were only $300 billion, leaving a $112 billion trade deficit (nominal dollars). By comparison, the U.S. trade deficit with Canada and Mexico was only $9 billion in 1993; the increase in that trade deficit through 2004 is what is responsible for displacing 1 million jobs nationwide.

The elites and their servants in the halls of Congress will keep telling us that so-called "free trade" agreements are good things. Well, the numbers show that it is a terrible thing for average workers. "

Sep. 13 2012 11:27 AM
Thomas Pinch

martin, where ya been? late waking up this morning??? I was missing my fellow novel character's latest bile.

Sep. 13 2012 11:26 AM
Karen from NYC

I note the large number of comments on this board regarding the difficulties that older workers are having in remaining employed or finding work if they lose their jobs. This problem seems to be structural as well as recession-based. There are more of us in our sixties who are healthy, working and have kids in college. The culture has changed; we are not smoking, getting good health care, exercising, having kids in our forties, and so on.

How can the economy change long-term to keep us working? Are we encouraging people to remain healthy, only to dump them when they do?

Sep. 13 2012 11:26 AM
Jason from Queens

Hi Brian,

30 year old male here. I have been out of work since Jul of last year. My search has taken me through ME to NJ. I've typically been employed in the construction sector in a wide range of positions mostly on the design/build side of the process. I write and rewrite my resume. I write and rewrite cover letters. I send it out daily to the point of complete frustration often without a response for weeks. In a year I have had three interviews, each time competing for these positions with literally hundreds of applicants. It is really quite depressing. With a bit of luck I've been able to "stay busy" with infrequent freelance jobs. At this time it is looking like education is my largest hurdle. I would love to complete my BA or simply have some up-to-date certifications but they are so cost prohibitive with little to no guarantee on a return of that investment. Catch 22 indeed.

Sep. 13 2012 11:26 AM
shellib from West Orange

It seemed that Obama's intention to create jobs was via government contracts for building infrastructure, green overhauls of existing buildings, programs similar to Roosevelts' WWW which would stimulate employment and the economy on so many levels. My question is directed to how many of these incentives were blocked/stopped in Congress and by whom. I think there should also be more attention paid to the tremendous loss of public service jobs and the relationship to tax breaks for the very rich and revenue deficits on State, local, and Federal levels.

I think it's a mistake to keep talking about fostering "entrepreneurship" as a solution to our economic crisis. Most people don't want a lifestyle that demands 24 hour attention like owning a business does. Most people work for a salary, and what they do is important for the economy and for building a healthy society made up of healthy families. More attention should be paid to this invaluable aspect of a civilized society.

Sep. 13 2012 11:25 AM
Mike from Manhattan

The public jobs deficit that the guest just mention hits the nail on the head and also point the blame: Destroying the public sector for ideological reasons and to reduce taxes on the wealthy has made this recession worse. Who is howling to kill off the public sector? One guess.

Sep. 13 2012 11:25 AM

What are these retraining programs retraining people to do? What fields actually have demand for more workers?

Sep. 13 2012 11:23 AM

who tracks how many people are working under the table?

Sep. 13 2012 11:22 AM


Today's commentary is more scatterbrained and more overtly racist than usual...I'm disappointed.

Time to look past 'shovel ready'...

WHEN BHO is re-elected in November...and this WILL happen absent rights restricting voter ID laws or electronic 'finagling'...He should appoint Romney to head the commission to discuss re-making the American industrial base to complete one or more of the following tasks:

-recovering the US steel industry - US steel should be used to build the next and fourth projects listed below
-improving/recovery of American roads and bridges
-Improving the efficiency of our water delivery system. Water is moved through clay pipes in many municipalities. Time to replace them.
-Improving the efficiency of our electrical grid. Cars have been mandated to should our electrical grid.
-Build a high speed rail system. Would you go to an airport if a trip from Chicago to DC only took three hours by rail.
-Increase our broadband capacity. The Koreans do it, why can't we.

Let Romney prove he cares about America by building up our capacity to produce domestically.

Sep. 13 2012 11:21 AM
Karen from NYC

I am working, but have had to fight for my job, which was being phased out based on a reorganization of my company that favored younger employees. I was told by a recruiter that it would be a "miracle" if I found another job at my age -- 62. I run four miles a day, am in excellent health, and have a law degree from an ivy league law school. What am I supposed to do? Die? I have a mortgage, a child in college and other financial responsibilities. I have no intention of retiring; I feel as though I am being mugged.

There is a generation of healthy people in their 60s and older who need and want to work. Our new life styles have kept us healthy; how do we remain employed?

Sep. 13 2012 11:21 AM

I hear that the unemployment rate is low for those with college degree and above, but all the long term unemployed people I know have those degrees. Now, my social circle is among those with degrees, but, wow, what I see is if someone is downsized or let go in their 50's, finding anything in their salary range and their training and education would indicate is a good fit is...well...slim to none.

Suggestions? Oh, and for some the mere standing and bending at McDonald's makes them a poor fit for that kind of job, if they would be considered.

Sep. 13 2012 11:18 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

1. There are funds for training: unemployement compensation is extended for people in retraining programs.

2. Despite the fact that older workers might be slightly more expensive, they are generally more experienced and skilled and some employers prefer the trade-off of hiring someone with experience so they don't have to train a rookie. That may be why younger people are having more difficulty getting jobs.

Sep. 13 2012 11:17 AM
Henry from Manhattan

I witnessed my father’s white collar career collapse after he got up in years. He became unemployable, or rather "too experienced" for positions he applied for.

The industry I’m in isn’t much better in that regards.

Sep. 13 2012 11:16 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan

Oh, .... and I recommend guest Furchtgott-Roth’s new book on over-regulation and the JOB-KILLING OBAMA POLICIES (er, the Iranian born Valerie Jarrett policies).

Especially ... Chapter 8 - “GREEN UNEMPLOYMENT FOR AMERICA”

Sep. 13 2012 11:14 AM
Janet from Manhattan

I was unemployed for about a year, until March 2012. I had been working as a homecare nurse, realized it wasn't for me, then tried to get into another type of nursing. I am over 50 and do not have a lot of nursing experience apart from homecare. Hospitals rarely hire new nurses these days. I finally did get a job in a call center, its not what I want to do. I would like to see more money put into the health care system, and a return to the hiring of new nurses.

Sep. 13 2012 11:13 AM
Mike from Manhattan

I have been out of work since July 2009. I have applied for hundreds of jobs at first in my field (IT support) and later for anything that I thought I could make a reasonable case for based on general life experience, jobs or educational background from years ago, etc. I had many 1/2 dozen interviews. These all began with a very successful phone interview but as soon as the interviewers saw my gray hair, I could see their eyes gloss over. Without putting teeth into age discrimination laws, people over 50 are lost. I have been luckier than most since my wife has been working. I have took several training courses to upgrade my skills and it was money wasted. If we can't fore non-discrimination, we need a WPA program for older workers.

Sep. 13 2012 11:13 AM
Marian from Hillsdale, NJ

I was laid off in February 2009...I lost a job I loved (Community Relations Manager for a bookstore)...and was in shock for the first few days..I got the news on Tuesday...decided I would take a "few" days off to regroup and start searching on Monday...and I did...and I am still laid off after almost 3 1/2 years. I am a 57 year old female with a MS in Public one is knocking on my door and I'm not knocking on anyone's door either...I gave up looking almost 2 years ago. Thank God my husband has been able to keep us afloat..but we are awash in student loan debt from my 3 college graduates..we are trying to help them out as long as we can. The only thing I can find is part-time minimum wage retail jobs...I think the government could try to set up job training sites at the unemployment offices. When I asked for some assistance when I first got laid off, the response from the clerk at unemployment was to slide me a post-it note with the web refresh my computer skills. That was the sum total of assistance from New York. We have adjusted by cutting back where we can and are thinking of selling our house to downsize.

Sep. 13 2012 11:12 AM
RJ from prospect hts

And what about the *pre-2008* long-term unemployed? Those who gave up long before? Check the Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the "booming 90s" and you'll find a sizable number of long-term unemployed. Why are the post-2008 people "special"? We noticed the pre-2008 unemployed after Katrina, in the crevices around Louisiana who are simply forgotten--but that acknowledgment was gone in a nanosecond. And, let's be completely clear: These people are *never* mentioned in the unemployment statistics.

Sep. 13 2012 11:11 AM

The unemployment rate for those with a bachelor's degree is a mere 4.1, just high school 8.8, less than high school 12%. do the math (if you can.)
Citizens should demand the federal government aid educational pursuits ; it’s a matter of national security!!

Sep. 13 2012 11:10 AM
Truth & Beauty from Brooklyn

The best way to employ Americans is to get back all those jobs that were outsourced by Republicans. If we once again produced clothing, electronics, pharmaceuticals, etc., in the US, there would be plenty of jobs to go around. Also, if the very wealthy were prohibited from keeping their money in foreign banks, we'd need more bankers so they could invest it here. And if all these employers paid their employees' health insurance premiums, we'd be happier and healthier.

Sep. 13 2012 11:05 AM
Martin Chuzzlewit from Manhattan




....LOL...Re-elect the Affirmative-Action enabled SUN KING. (Hey, he's just getting stared......)

Sep. 13 2012 11:01 AM

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