Posts Tagged Reinvention
I am picking up a pattern – do you see what I see? The issue is food. With millions unemployed or under employed, feeding the family is becoming a real worry. Food Banks are getting pressed. The old donate cans of beans or getting old food from retailers is not keeping up. My bet is that this crisis will morph into a new opportunity – for people to grow food in the cities for themselves and for their community.
What are you seeing?
Officials say the face of hunger in North Texas is changing, thanks to historically high unemployment and the nation’s deepest post-WWII recession.
As a result, thousands of North Texans are finding themselves seeking food assistance for the first time, thanks to unemployment, a reduction in pay or work hours and lengthy delays in the state’s food stamp program.
For the North Texas Food Bank’s partner agencies, the number of first-time clients has risen 36 percent.
Among those first-time clients is Plano resident and former healthcare administrator Ray, who shared this story. Ray and his wife volunteer at the food pantry as he continues to look for work.
“When I was laid-off from a well-paid position and my financial obligations began piling up, my wife and I ultimately had to choose between eating and paying the bills. It was then that I shook off my pride and sought assistance from Minnie’s West Plano Food Pantry.”
Overall, food distribution for the North Texas Food Bank is up 46 percent over the same time last year.
Unfortunately, the fast-rising demand has forced some agencies to turn people away due to short supplies.
With help from the campaign launched Tuesday, the North Texas Food Bank hopes to raise $5 million – enough to distribute 20 million meals –by the end of the year.
Learn more about the North Texas Food Bank’s campaign and hear some of the stories from your community here.
The North Texas Food Bank and Tarrant Area Food Bank are part of KERA’s Advisory Group for its Economy Project. Learn more about what non-profit groups are doing on the Community Voices page of KERA’s Economy Web site.
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.
Here is an excellent overview of how tough it is in Ohio right now from Laura Hertzfeld who is curating on Economystory.org at PRX. If ant state is to find the way home to a new kind of economy where regular people can make a legitimate living I think it will be Ohio – Why? Because reinvention is the only option. The old jobs are not coming back.
Ohio has one of the highest unemployment rates in the country – 11.2% in July. Federal Reserve chair Ben Bernanke said this morning that the recession is “technically” over, but it will be a long road to recovery in Ohio and other places in the country where the manufacturing sector has been hit particularly hard.
Help Wanted is a new series from WCPN in Cleveland, reporting on how people are coping with job loss and the economic climate overall. Today’s piece talks about the “ripple effect” — how one person’s layoff can affect dozens of businesses in a community.
John Kraizel was laid off from his engineering job in January.
“Kraizel cut expenses down to the essentials. No dinners out. Fewer haircuts. Definitely no lawn service. And the house cleaners? He pushes his own vacuum now.
All told, Kraizel estimates he’s cut about $1000 from his monthly budget. That’s $1000 out of the local economy.”
Listen to the full story here.
Why Ohio? This week I’m (Laura) in Cleveland for the Public Radio Program Directors Conference, and will be sharing some of the ideas I’m hearing from public radio folks from across the country.
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?
Why am I making such a deal about unemployment? Because it is the main driver for people losing their homes now. There is no remediation if a person has no income.
There are are millions of Americans in the pipeline – who have lost their jobs or who will – who will inevitably lose their homes.
But what about the “Recovery” will they not get their jobs back? Have a look at this chart form the Department of Labor and think more about will the jobs come back in time?
The first thing we see is that the wait to find a new job is now very long indeed. It is in fact “off the chart”.
Now look at this chart – what I think it shows is that over the last 60 years that has been a collapse in manufacturing jobs that is systemic and long term.
This chart tells us that we are back to end of the last depression before the war made such a difference to manufacturing. It shows us that we have been in a long term systemic decline since 1980. It shows us that there is no quick or easy fix.
On a related note the Unemployment Benefit Trust Fund will run out of funds in the early part of 2010 – so those that are relying on unemployment to keep them in their house will lose that too – unless there is the political will to boost the fund in a major way.
So what does this mean?
I don’t think that there is a simple rebound in the near future. Traditionally, the jobs come back – but we can see here that they cannot.
25% of our teenagers are unemployed already – what can they look forward too?
This August, the teenage unemployment rate — that is, the percentage of teenagers who wanted a job who could not find one — was 25.5 percent, its highest level since the government began keeping track of such statistics in 1948. Likewise, the percentage of teenagers over all who were working was at its lowest level in recorded history.
“There are an amazing number of kids out there looking for work,” said Andrew M. Sum, an economics professor at Northeastern University. “And given that unemployment is a lagging indicator, and young people’s unemployment even lags behind the rest of unemployment, we’re going to see a lot of kids of out work for a long, long, long, long time.”
Economists say there are multiple explanations for why young workers have suffered so much in this downturn, but they mostly boil down to being at the bottom of the totem pole.
Recent college graduates, unable to find higher-paying jobs, are working at places like Starbucks and Gap, taking jobs once held by their younger peers. Half of college graduates under age 25 are in jobs that do not require college degrees, the highest portion in at least 18 years, Mr. Sum said.
Likewise, the reluctance or inability of older workers to retire has led to less attrition and fewer opportunities for workers to move up a rung and make room for new workers at the bottom of the corporate ladder.
I don’t see any way around having to Reinvent the Economy. Find out how to return to a high employment and local focus. Easier said than done right? But there are a lot of people who have a vested interest in finding out the answers. Many of them are already reinventing local food etc. My bet is that if we open our eyes – we see see the real “Green Shoots” and they will be where people who will not give up are trying things that are radically new.
In the first part of the FTMC project, we built capacity to help connect people to resources that would help them save their homes. We found help that could help people who COULD – stay in their homes. BUT now employment is the main driver. We can help connect some people with unemployment resources – but in more and more cases, there will not be work. The conventional economy will not be returning.
WASHINGTON — The country’s growing unemployment is overtaking subprime mortgages as the main driver of foreclosures, according to bankers and economists, threatening to send even higher the number of borrowers who will lose their homes and making the foreclosure crisis far more complicated to unwind.
Economists estimate that 1.8 million borrowers will lose their homes this year, up from 1.4 million last year, according to Moody’s Economy.com. And the government, which has already committed billions of dollars to foreclosure-prevention efforts, has found it far more difficult to help people who have lost their paychecks than those who found their mortgage payments unaffordable because of an interest-rate increase. (Renae Merle WPO)
The hardest hit cities like Cleveland and Detroit already know this. What is going on there is that people are starting to think and act on how to reinvent the local economy. Here are some stories that we are just starting to run that show what Reinvention will mean.
Data now shows that getting a new job after a layoff is harder than ever and that each layoff drives wages lower. There is a new theme emerging from this situation. Reinventing. Reinventing who you are and what you do. As the financial crisis affects more and more people – this need to find a new way can only grow and we are ideally set up now to help.
Here is Scott Jagow on Marketplace with his views on Reinventing ourselves – the why and the what.
For so many Americans, life will be completely different, even when the economy recovers. On the downside, they probably won’t be making as much money as they used to — maybe never again. But some people will be happier because they’ll be doing something they actually want to do.
Formerly a senior vice president for Lehman Bros., Kunka, 45, was at the center of last year’s financial storm, bundling hotel and office loans into commercial mortgage-backed securities as she sat at a tiny cubicle on a vast trading floor.
“I liked using my math skills to make things as profitable as you can,” she says. “It was fast-paced. There was a lot of pressure.”
But mortgage-backed securities are now deemed “toxic assets” amid a commercial real estate slump. When Lehman went bankrupt last fall, Kunka lost her job. She turned down an offer to dispose of troubled assets for a fraction of her former mid-six-figure salary, at longer hours.
In May, she saw a newspaper article about a federally funded New Jersey Labor Department program called Traders to Teachers, which trains financial workers to be high school math teachers in three months. She starts in September and is guaranteed a teaching job in January. Normally, aspiring math teachers must have majored in math or have two years of college courses.
For Kunka, the opportunity fulfills a 25-year-old dream that fell by the wayside when she got a summer job at a small brokerage. “It’s challenging to get up every day in front of a bunch of kids and see if you can make them enjoy and understand math. It takes me out of my comfort zone.”
By Christmas about 1.5 million people on unemployment will run out of benefits. It is so hard to find a job when so many jobs will never return. In normal times, you can expect a return. But it seems that we are undergoing a structural revolution as well as a recession. There is huge pressure to extend the term of unemployment. That may happen BUT really what is needed is a reinvention of the economy. For the OLD jobs will not return.
Here is a map put together by the NYT that shows the places where reinvention has to happen. It will be no surprise to us that the 32 markets of our project are right in the middle of the worst of this.
Who better than us to help engage our communities to help them come up with answers for what “Reinvention” will be?
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?