Posts Tagged Jobs
Where might the jobs come from that will be so essential to our future? Here is Bob Herbert’s conclusion in his Op Ed today:
“The past,” as William Faulkner told us, “is not dead. It’s not even past.” The lessons of the Works Progress Administration and the Civilian Conservation Corps of the 1930s are right in front of us, ready to be studied, analyzed, updated and applied to the present-day needs of the country.
If we’re serious about getting the U.S. back on track economically, we will have to take our heads out of the sand at some point with regard to the nation’s infrastructure. America has to be rebuilt, modernized and re-energized — from its water and sewer systems to its schools to the smart grid and the alternative energy sources that so many are talking about and beyond. That’s where the jobs are for the long term, and that’s the only route to a truly flourishing future.
These investments would be costly and require vision. Seeing them through would take an enormous collective effort by politicians and the public alike. But some variation on these themes is absolutely essential if the U.S. is to pull itself out of the economic quicksand and its long-term, potentially very tragic consequences.
Miles O’Brien (Blueprint America) makes the case for a big look at how we move our goods around.
The roads and trucks are reaching their limits. Time to move freight off the road onto the rails – a better balance? But even the rails are at the edge too. So a lot of money is needed – but from where?
Surely renewing our transportation infrastructure is our best bet?
70% of the US GDP is based on the consumer. Yesterday we saw the stats on consumer credit that tell us that the consumer is in full retreat.
Here is how Planet Money sees it:
People pulled back on debt at a yearly pace of 10.4 percent, and that’s after a 7.4 percent annualized drop in June.
All told, Americans borrowed $21.6 billion less in July than they had in June, the biggest one-month drop since records began in 1943. Not even Cash for Clunkers could stop the rapid draining of credit. From AP:
Demand for non-revolving credit used to finance cars, vacations, education and other things fell by $15.4 billion, also a record decline. That 11.7 percent pace was on top of an 8 percent annualized decline in June.This economic crisis has been described as a crisis caused by too much leveraging (or borrowing) followed a painfully rapid deleveraging (in which debtors either pay off what they owe or creditors give up collecting). It’s also a crisis of overconsumption followed by a painfully steep decline in consumer demand. In today’s numbers from the Fed, those twin factors meet.
Total consumer credit now stands at $2.47 trillion.
I think an important question to ask is why so much of our economy has been based on borrowing. I think that I see a possible answer here. That wages have fallen for decades and that the workforce has borrowed to make up the difference.
This graph shows me that there has been a long term and hence systemic disconnect between the workforce and the financial system.
This shows us that around 1980, manufacturing jobs, that usually paid enough to support a family, have declined to the point now that we are back at there the last depression ended in 1940!
I suspect that our first response to these pressures was the two worker family. When not even two employed people could make a go of it, we borrowed the difference.
Now this option is over.
So what now? I don’t know. But what I do know is that the very structure of our economy, with very tight concentration, will not help us get back on our feet. There are simply not the jobs or the wages available.
So I come back to the “can do” and innovative aspects of the American people. Time to go back to the drawing board and start to reinvent our economy – starting where we live – in our own communities. For the other part of the American way – of moving to find opportunity – is closed to us. Like the British in 1941 – people stand alone in their own place with only themselves able to to step up to the challenge.
Public TV and Radio can surely play an immense and historic role in helping people come together and helping new ideas spread?
I called Luther Keith of Arise Detroit today (Arise Detroit is a senior partner of WDET’s Facing the Mortgage Crisis Project) – I wanted to find out more about the core issue for cities like Detroit – WHERE ARE THE JOBS?
The main cause for losing your house in the “Rust belt” or in “Boom Cities” like Las Vegas is losing your job. There is no remediation – if you lose your job and you cannot get another one – you lose your house and a lot more besides.
“People are going to have to reinvent themselves,” Luther said. “Neighborhoods will have to reinvent themselves – The City and the State will have to reinvent themselves. The auto jobs are not coming back. The journalism jobs are not coming back. There are lots of jobs lost that can never come back”
What does “reinvent” mean? I asked. “We can’t know yet” Luther replied. We talked a bit about journalism.
Luther was a journalist before he became a community organizer. He is getting lots of calls from Journalists who have been let go. They know that they will never get another job as they had before. If they do – it will be very different. Maybe like at The Beacon in St Louis – Or like Politico in Washington – Or maybe be Bloggers like me – Or activists like Luther – WHO KNOWS? Who can know right now for while it is clear that the old is dead – the new is not yet clear.
Many have found that retraining does not work either. If you retrain for a field that is new to you – but if where there are no jobs?
Luther feels that we have to have a big conversation about this. We have to help each other reinvent ourselves, our neighborhoods and our cities. We have to find a whole new way of working.
One of the Big New Ideas being floated in Flint is to “Shrink the City” – Here is a link to an NPR piece on this controversial idea
Empty houses and vacant lots can be seen on block after block. The numbers tell the story of a dying city. At its peak, Flint was home to General Motors, with a growing population of some 200,000 people and 80,000 auto industry jobs. Today, the population is about half what it once was, and only a few thousand auto jobs remain. More than one-third of the homes in Flint have been abandoned.
As the county treasurer, Kildee heads the County Land Bank, which has been buying up thousands of abandoned and foreclosed properties. He has control of large portions of Flint — which gives him a powerful tool to reshape the city.
“What we really need is a new map, literally a design of the city that looks at every block in every neighborhood, and then makes decisions about where it makes sense to either let nature take the land back or to create some intentional open green space,” Kildee says. “So that 100,000 people can live in a city that does not look half-empty.”
Community Gardens Replace Abandoned Houses
One way residents are filling the city is with community gardens. One of them is managed by Harry Ryan, a retired electrician and real estate agent who lives in Flint’s old east side. Just across the street from his home, where five houses used to stand, the land bank has helped him plant a sprawling community garden, which provides free fruit and vegetables to this part of the city.
Ryan says growing food one of the benefits of a plan to shrink Flint. “I look at it like this: Something has to be done with this abandoned land. So, I think, [in] every transition there are going to be negatives, but look at the positives. This was a junk pile,” Ryan recalls.
“Now people are eating from it. I know there are complaints, but we do not have the 230,000 people [anymore].”
Here Michigan Public Radio have an interview on Land Banks in Flint: Dan Kildee is a long time Flint resident and the Genessee County Treasurer. He founded the Genesee County Land Bank in an effort to deal with the problem of abandoned homes. He spoke with Michigan Radio’s Charity Nebbe.
One of the ways that Arise Detroit’s Public Media partner, WDET, can help is to get into these conversations. Help connect the people who care and host the safe places for the conversations to take place.
Surely the permanent loss of jobs is not Detroit’s problem alone? Maybe we can have a national conversation about where and how to find work in a new way – how to have a city in a new way?
“Robert” Luther ended by saying. “Who would have thought in 1904 that Detroit would be the auto capital of the world? Who could have seen that? It’s the same now. Who can know what we will become? But if we have the right conversation, then the future will become clear.”
How is the conversation in your city going?
Much of what your public radio or TV station can do in the mortgage crisis is to connect you to people who have the knowledge to help you keep your home.
But in some cases this will not be possible. We can connect you to help but your home may not be savable.
Some cities in America are in a new phase of the Mortgage Crisis – Las Vegas, Cleveland, Detroit – cities in California and Florida – where it may not be possible to save almost any home where foreclosure proceedings have begun.
In these cases, the issue is now how to help you when you may have lost your home and your job. How to help you when you have lost the foundation of your life. What kind of help can that be?
One answer is to give you hope.
What does that mean? It means helping you find out, in a realistic and tangible way how to rebuild your life.
I will talk more about this over the next few months. But right now I wanted to tell you about one of the things that is happening in Las Vegas – one of the worst hit cities.
One of the worst things that can happen to any of us is to have nothing meaningful to do.
Jobs are vital. Without one how do we pay the bills. Our work is central to giving us meaning. When we meet a person for the first time, we ask them “What do you do?” Our work defines us. So when we lose our job, who are we? Many people are losing their jobs. This is why many are losing their homes as well.
But in reality, many jobs are in themselves boring and meaningless. Many wish we could do something that we could get excited about. Some are finding that losing their job has strangely brought them back to life.
Here is a link to a NewsHour piece on how many are finding that not having their boring job has empowered people to get behind their passion.
Many can cope with losing their home so long as they can find shelter. But not having work is a kind of death.
We need to be able to get up in the morning and have some thing and some people to go to. If we have good work and we are with good people, we can also rebuild our networks. With a good network, we can also have a much better chance of getting paid work.
If this cannot be your old job, then many are finding that volunteering is a good first step. But of course the issue then is how do I find a good volunteer job?
What KNPR and many organizations in Las Vegas have done is to make it easy for people to volunteer to help organizations that are helping people in the community.
During National Volunteer Week, April 19-25, Nevada Public Radio partnered with the Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada to hold it’s first-ever Volunteer-A-Thon. April is the time when Nevada Public Radio holds its annual spring membership campaign. Instead of asking for members we asked listeners to give something perhaps more valuable – their time. The Volunteer-A-Thon culminated with an on-air drive for volunteers that was also an opportunity to recognize corporate partners who champion volunteerism and support employee volunteers.
Southern Nevadans answered the call to service during the Volunteer-A-Thon, with more than 460 people pledging more than 11,655 volunteer hours to local nonprofit organizations. During the Volunteer-A-Thon, 32 new nonprofit organizations also signed up with the Volunteer Center of Southern Nevada.
So instead of asking for money for the station – KNPR pushed its pledge week out a month – they asked for people to help each other and made it easy to choose what they wanted to do. The 11,000 hours are equivalent to over $200,000 worth of time.
KNPR did not do this on its own – but was helped in turn by not only the Volunteer Centre of Southern Nevada but by a number of corporations such as Zappos, Southwest Gas, Wells Fargo, & Harrahs.
Many good things are coming out of this action. Most important, the splintered community of Las Vegas is coming together. The volunteer organizations, themselves short of money, are getting help and are knitting as a group. For Profit organizations, are joining in. Most importantly, when all might seem lost, rather than not taking action, people are getting out, being with others and doing important work.
Maybe in the scheme of things, this is small right now. But maybe also it might be the beginning of some thing big. We see signs of this in other hard hit cities such as Detroit and Cleveland. You can get so far down that the only way out is up. The only people you can rely on is each other. This is the magic moment when the word “Community” starts to come to life.
“The Sleeper Awakes!”