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Opinion: Why Obama and Romney Should be Worried about Shrinking Work Force

Monday, May 07, 2012

Looking at these numbers gives us a sense of the "Big Picture” of unemployment, and cements the idea that jobs will continue to be a crucial factor in U.S. elections for many years to come.

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The Takeaway

The Agenda: Osama bin Laden, May Day Protest, April Jobs Report

Monday, April 30, 2012

This week marks the one-year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. Meanwhile, the release of the April jobs report on Friday will provide an important picture of the status of the recovery. Christine Fair, professor at the Center for Security Studies at Georgetown University, and Charlie Herman, economics editor for The Takeaway and WNYC Radio look at what's in store for the week.

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WNYC News

For Some Vets, Military Skills are Translating to Civilian Jobs

Sunday, April 29, 2012

The unemployment rate for newer veterans stands at 10.3 percent, according to the latest report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. But for some, the job skills they gained in the military are translating into civilian jobs back home.  

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WNYC News

New York City Continues to Add Jobs

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Private employers in New York City hired more than 65,000 workers from February 2011 to February 2012 according to the New York State Department of Labor.  New figures released on Thursday also showed that during the same period, private companies in the state added over 138,000 jobs.

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Slate Culture Gabfest

Slate: The Culture Gabfest, Live in Los Angeles Edition

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

In this week's special live Culture Gabfest, our critics debate the controversy surrounding This American Life’s retraction of Mike Daisey’s popular monologue, The Agony and the Ecstasy of Steve Jobs. Next, Gabfesters ponder the princess of quirk, Zoo

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The Takeaway

Listeners Respond: Own a Business, Work a Second Job

Thursday, March 15, 2012

All week we’ve been hearing from listeners about their Great Recession stories. Some of you have lost jobs, while others have taken pay cuts or moved out-of-state in search of employment. And there are those of you who have created your own employment opportunities: the small business owners of the bunch.

But nothing comes easy when you start from a clean slate. Two Takeaway listeners join us who have ventured to create their own small businesses, while maintaining other part-time work in order to make ends meet.

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The Takeaway

Listeners Respond: Pay Cuts In Today's Economy

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

We’ve been asking you to reach out and tell us how your job has changed since the great recession. Some of you have told us about unemployment spells while others have told us they couldn’t be more happy in their current employment. A number of you spoke of another issue: pay cuts.

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The Takeaway

"The Go-Nowhere Generation": Why Aren't Young Americans Hitting the Road to Find Jobs?

Monday, March 12, 2012

"Today’s generation is literally going nowhere." That’s the argument Todd Buchholz and his daughter Victoria make in a recent Op-Ed published in The New York Times. Census Bureau data shows that the chance a 20-something will move to another state has fallen more than 40 percent since the 1980s. Meanwhile, the proportion of young adults living at home has nearly doubled. The Buchholzes say what we’re seeing is a shift in attitude — and that today, more than ever, young people are less willing to leave their hometowns to find better opportunities.

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WNYC News

Economy Adds 227,000 Jobs, Unemployment Flat at 8.3 Percent

Friday, March 09, 2012

Credit Market Stress Indicators

The nation’s unemployment rate held steady at 8.3 percent as the U.S. economy added 227,000 jobs in February. Revised data also found that 60,000 more jobs were created in December and January.

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Transportation Nation

GM Halts Production of Chevy Volt for Five Weeks Due to Poor Sales

Friday, March 02, 2012

Image: © GM Corp

Chevy Volts aren't selling well. The Detroit Free Press reports that GM is shutting down the Volt plant in Michigan for five weeks to avoid an oversupply of the electric/combustion combination car that GM has invested heavily to market.

As the automaker bounces back from bankruptcy the Volt was meant to signal a new, cleaner, innovative era for General Motors. But after initial hype and design awards, the company has only sold about 7,600 Volts, far less than the 10,000 GM projected, according to the Free Press.

GM will temporarily lay off 1,300 employees at its Detroit Hamtramck plant from March 19 to April 23.

“The fact that GM is now facing an oversupply of Volts suggests that consumer demand is just not that strong for these vehicles." Edmunds.com Chief Economist Dr. Lacey Plache said. "The price premium on the Volt just doesn’t make economic sense for the average consumer when there are so many fuel-efficient gasoline-powered cars available, typically for thousands of dollars less.”

The Nissan Leaf, an all-electric car, has a waiting list of about 26,000 people, according to AutoBlog but has sold just 800 cars per month on average, which is more than the Chevy Volt.

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Transportation Nation

BART's New Fleet: Made in the USA, but Maybe Not in California

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Postcard of BART in the 1970s. Image courtesy of BART.

This year is BART’s 40th birthday. While some people swear that 40 is the new 30, when it comes to subway systems, 40 is just plain over-the-hill. About two-thirds of Bay Area Rapid Transit cars have been running the rails since the system opened, in 1972.

Paul Oversier is in charge of operations at BART. He says that because BART trains run long distances and at higher speeds than other subway systems, it gives the system a dubious distinction. “We have the oldest cars, and we run them the hardest,” he says.

It’s time for new trains. But building them won’t be cheap: BART estimates it will cost more than $3 billion to replace all 775 cars.

Right now, three companies are in the running to build the new fleet. One is in France, one is in South Korea, and third is in Canada.

Scott Haggerty is an Alameda County Supervisor who sits on the board of the Metropolitan Transportation Commission. He’s not surprised that bids for the massive job are coming in from all over the world, but he doesn’t think the world should build BART’s cars.

“At a minimum, those cars should be built in the U.S.,” says Haggerty. “But that’s not even going to make me happy. Those cars should be built within the BART district.”

On paper, it makes sense. Building BART cars here would mean keeping those billions of dollars, and thousands of jobs, where BART riders actually live. According to BART’s Paul Oversier, there’s just one problem. “There haven’t been any domestic subway car builders in the United States for decades,” he says.

Oversier says even if BART wanted to give the contract to a U.S. company, they couldn’t do it – the last domestic company that built subway cars closed up shop in 1987. But, he says, that doesn’t mean no Americans will benefit from the project. “It's really a misnomer to say the cars are being built overseas,” he says. “They're being built in the United States, using American parts, using American workers. It just so happens that the corporation that’s operating that plant is an international corporation.”

To understand how this works, you need to know about a law known as “Buy America.” It’s been around since 1983.

Scott Paul is the executive director of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, an industry group based in Washington DC. He says it doesn’t matter if a company is foreign or domestic, as long as the manufacture happens in the U.S.

“The idea is that through that taxpayer investment, we’ll be supporting jobs in this country as opposed to a place like China, for instance,” says Paul.

The idea of buying American has guided some of the country’s signature transportation projects. As far back as 1933, Congress required that federally financed construction projects use American materials.

“We’ve had this policy through the building of the interstate highway system,” says Paul. “Ronald Reagan actually expanded it to transit programs.”

Almost three-quarters of the money BART is using to pay for the new cars comes from the federal government. Under Buy America, that means whichever company gets the contract has to do at least 60% of that work in the U.S. But BART doesn’t get to decide where in the U.S. that work gets done––they have to go where the companies are. So while the cars could be built in California, BART can’t require that.

“There’s not an enormous demand for subway cars in the United States,” says Paul.  “So it doesn’t make a lot of sense for several manufacturers to have a permanent presence when the market is so sporadic and limited to just a few big city agencies.”

Right now, none of the car builders BART is considering have plants in California. That’s what bothers Supervisor Scott Haggerty. He thinks agencies like BART should be able to use federal dollars to do their projects in-state––and to encourage companies to set up new plants here. Right now, that’s illegal.

“But who set that rule?” asks Haggerty. “When you say it’s illegal, that’s because Congress said it’s illegal. Congress can fix that.”

Last year, BART officials sponsored legislation in California allowing them to give extra weight to bids from foreign companies that exceed Buy America requirements.

So now the agency can legally reward companies that create more American jobs. But that doesn’t change the fact that there’s no infrastructure to do the work in California.

Right now, the car builders BART is considering have plants in New York and Philadelphia. “But that’s not to say that they might not open a plant somewhere else,” says BART’s Paul Oversier. “It’s a big enough order that the economics might be such for the car builders that it might make sense, from a business standpoint, to open a plant somewhere else. But that bridge will be crossed later on.”

BART expects final bids on the new cars by the end of February. The agency hopes to make a final recommendation to the board in about six weeks.

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Dylan Ratigan's 30 Million Jobs

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Dylan Ratigan, host of MSNBC's "The Dylan Ratigan Show" and author of Greedy Bastards: How We Can Stop Corporate Communists, Banksters, and Other Vampires from Sucking America Dry, discusses his trip around the country to talk to people who are creating innovative jobs as part of his 30 million jobs project.

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The Leonard Lopate Show

Backstory: American Manufacturing

Thursday, February 09, 2012

More goods are being produced in American factories that in recent decades, but employment in those same facilities is falling. Adam Davidson, co-founder and co-host of Planet Money, a co-production of NPR and This American Life, discusses the decline of American manufacturing jobs and looks at why the jobs crisis will be so difficult to solve. He's the author of "Making It in America," in the January/February issue of The Atlantic.

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Transportation Nation

LaHood Says High Speed Rail in California is about Jobs

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Transportation Secretary Ray Lahood at a 2011 High Speed Rail Conference (photo: USDOT)

(San Francisco, CA -- KALW) On a stop in Fresno, California today, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood pushed for high-speed rail in the state.

“This is about jobs," said LaHood. "High-speed rail in California is about helping to get the California economy moving again, to get unemployment down, to put friends and neighbors to work,” said LaHood. “And implementing high-speed rail in California will do that.”

Fresno is in the heart of California’s Central Valley, where construction on the controversial project is set to begin later this year. The section of the rail line between Fresno and Bakersfield is the only segment of the estimated $100 billion project with secured funding.

“Anytime you do big things, they are always going to be controversial,” said LaHood. “There will always be those who have their objections. Our job is to understand the concerns and work to mitigate those.”

LaHood also toured a Siemens light-rail car manufacturing plant, and was scheduled to meet with state legislators in Sacramento later today.

Below is the press release from the Department of Transportation:

U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood Promotes Obama Administration Vision for High-Speed Rail in Meeting with Fresno Mayor Swearengin and Area Business Leaders

FRESNO, Calif. – U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood today promoted the Obama Administration's vision for high-speed rail in a meeting with Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin and Sacramento area business leaders.  Secretary LaHood stressed high-speed rail's potential to create new construction and manufacturing jobs while providing California with a transportation network that can support the world's ninth largest economy.

"High-speed rail is a game changer for U.S. transportation and is critical for a California economy built to last," said Secretary LaHood.  "President Obama has called on us to rebuild America by putting people back to work making sure our country has the safest, fastest, most efficient ways to move people and products.  Building a high-speed rail network, beginning here in California's Central Valley with American workers and American companies, is a great place to start."

Construction of California's 220 miles-per-hour high-speed rail system will begin in Fresno later this year and will, according to the California High-Speed Rail Authority, create tens of thousands of jobs over the next five years in a region hit especially hard by the recession. The state's high-speed rail project would connect Fresno and other communities in the Central Valley to the San Francisco Bay Area and Los Angeles Basin, two of the country's largest metropolitan areas, with travel times under two hours.

Through a "Buy America" approach to construction, the Obama Administration is ensuring that high-speed rail projects are built with American-made products.  In addition, 30 rail companies from around the world have pledged that if selected for high-speed rail contracts, they will hire American workers and expand their bases of operations in the United States.

The Central Valley is the fastest growing part of California, and one of the fastest growing regions in the country.  By 2050, the region will double in size to more than 13 million people, making it more populated than Illinois, Pennsylvania or Ohio. Today, the Central Valley supports the fifth busiest intercity passenger corridor in the nation.

California is already home to six of the 10 most congested metropolitan areas and the busiest short-haul air market in the nation. The stress on the state's infrastructure will become even more pronounced during the next 40 years, as the state's population is estimated to grow by more than 20 million people. Without constructing the high-speed rail system, the California High-Speed Rail Authority estimates the state would need to invest $171 billion to acquire the equivalent level of capacity—2,300 miles of new highways, 115 new airport gates, and four new airport runways.

"Our highways and airports simply can't handle the growth," said Secretary LaHood.  "At this make or break moment, America needs a transportation jobs bill that includes resources to continue building a national high-speed rail network."

California's intercity passenger rail system is one of several regional rail networks planned across the United States.  To date, the U.S. Department of Transportation has invested $10.1 billion to put American communities on track toward new and expanded rail service with improved reliability, speed, and frequency of existing service.

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The Takeaway

Job Numbers Show Positive Sign for Economy

Friday, February 03, 2012

Another positive signal for the economy today as it was revealed that the U.S. unemployment rate fell to 8.3 percent. The economy added 243,000 jobs, more than expected. What does this mean for the economic recovery? Joining the program is Kelly Evans from The Wall Street Journal

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The Takeaway

Can Anyone Resurrect 'Made in the USA'?

Thursday, January 26, 2012

The main focus of Tuesday’s State of the Union address was the economy and income inequality. Along with his ideas about taxation and protecting homeowners, president Obama also expressed a desire to bring manufacturing jobs back to the U.S. Since the 1980s, the U.S. economy has shifted away from manufacturing and towards intellectual property and services. This has been due in part to the perceived expenses involved in production based in the U.S., as well as labor laws. 

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The Brian Lehrer Show

Creating and Keeping Manufacturing Jobs

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Adam Davidson, co-host of NPR's "Planet Money", discusses his Atlantic cover story, which profiles a plant in South Carolina that may serve as a model for the future of manufacturing and job creation in the U.S.

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The Takeaway

Competing Economic Plans for 2012

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

As the GOP field narrows itself down we wanted to take a closer look at each candidate's economic plan for the 2012 election. Which candidate is addressing your concerns about the economy, and what initiatives will have a positive impact on the size of your wallet? American Public Media's Marketplace has a good shapshot of each candidate's economic plan. We've put a more comprehensive view of the candidates' positions below.

On Thursday's show, Takeaway Washington correspondent Todd Zwillich will try to explain the difference between each economic vision. Have a question about who will address your concerns? Tell us what issue you'd like the next president to tackle at 1-877-8-MY-TAKE. 

 

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The Takeaway

Unemployed Vermonter Speaks of Little Hope

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Americans struggling with the ongoing recession and unemployment has been one of the defining narratives of 2011. Alexandra Jarrin, a regular guest and listener, lost her corporate job and home in 2008 and remained unemployed for nearly three years. She now works as a door-to-door salesperson for commission, but hopes to find a better job soon. Jarrin is 50-years-old and lives in Vermont. She has been on the program before, and gives an update of how her life has changed since The Takeaway last spoke to her.

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WNYC News

New York Recovered Jobs Faster Than The Nation in 2011

Friday, December 23, 2011

2011 is shaping up to be a fairly good year for job creation in New York City.

An analysis of government data shows the five boroughs added 49,000 jobs in the first 11 months of 2011,  - almost double the number added in 2010. What's more, the pace of New York's recovery is much faster than that of the nation. The city has recovered about 60% of the jobs lost in the Great Recession, versus just 30% recovered across the United States.

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