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Gimme Me My Job Back

Aired November 26, 2009 - 15:00   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): The great recession has crushed the American worker. Ten percent unemployment, the highest level in 30 years. Construction, manufacturing, retail jobs all disappearing at an alarming rate. This hour, we ask the tough questions in the search for real solutions to a job crisis threatening the future of American families. If you have a job, if you lost your job, if you want the inside word on emerging industries, this is your hour. Real hope, real answers, real solutions. It's time for "Gimme Me My Job Back."

ALI VELSHI, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Hello, everyone, I'm Ali Velshi.

ROMANS (on camera): And I'm Christine Romans. This is a special edition of "Your Money: Gimme My Job Back."

VELSHI: It's been a long time since unemployment hit these high levels. We haven't seen these high levels for a long time. Here's a hint, Christine. Americans were wearing Swatch watches and lining up for "Return of the Jedi" last time unemployment was this high in the country.

ROMANS: That's right. The unemployment rate was last in double digits in the in the early 1980s. There are now six applicants for every job opening and more and more jobs are being lost overseas.

VELSHI: So you can't blame anyone right now for standing up and demanding, give me my job back. This next hour is designed to empower you or someone you know and you probably know someone, with critical information about the true state of jobs in America. Where are we? Where are we going and more importantly, how do you find a job when you're out of work?

ROMANS: At the end of 2007 when the recession began, the unemployment rate was below 5 percent. For those 7 million jobs we have lost since, how long will it take to get those jobs back?

VELSHI: Well with us for the hour, Chrystia Freeland, she's the managing editor of the "Financial Times" here in the U.S. And Rutgers professor Bill Rodgers, former chief economist with the Department of Labor. Welcome to both of you, thank you for being here.

Bill, you have been poring through the numbers. It's bad. We all know it's bad, double digit unemployment. I think what most people need to know is where is the trend? Where is it going?

BILL RODGERS, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Sure. Most private sector forecasters are looking over the next three years, we're going to still be at around 9 to 10 percent. There is the Congressional Budget Office led by Doug Elmendorf and are willing to take that risk and they recognize there is a bigger error as you go further out. But they're looking at around us getting back to 5 percent at around 2013, 2014. And that's consistent to what other people have shown, that it's going to take us awhile to get back to full employment, to recover those 7 million jobs, plus the 3 million Americans who are now becoming of age and moving into the labor force.

ROMANS: Chrystia, we need to see the economy growing a lot more strongly than it right now though to actually start creating jobs, don't we? I mean, we need to be adding 150,000 jobs every month just to keep up with --

VELSHI: And we haven't seen that sometime since 2007.

ROMANS: Just to keep up with the new people that are entering the workforce. What's it going to be that is going to unlock it and allow the jobs to start being created?

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, FINANCIAL TIMES: Well, you're absolutely right, Christine, that the problem is not only does the economy need to keep up with, as Bill was saying, the new entrants into the labor force, there's all these people that have lost jobs who ideally need to be absorbed back into the labor force.

And I think the worrying scenario is very few people think that the economy is going to go back to 2007. A lot of people now even see companies that are doing really well are talking about a fundamental reset of the U.S. economy. That America was living high off the hog, American households and the whole country was living off of borrowed money and that this reset is going to mean people save more, people consume less, the economy grows more slowly and I think that's going to be a really wrenching social adjustment.

VELSHI: All right, so you've identified one big issue in the jobs market and the problem we have got. The other one, Bill, is that so many of these jobs that have been lost have been lost in manufacturing. And regardless of where you stand on whether we should have better manufacturing policy or we should manufacture more, the reality is manufacturing jobs, particularly lower paying ones have left this country. Some higher paying ones have left this country. And it's not obvious that they're coming back at all.

RODGERS: Well, I just want to correct you a little bit. I mean, yes, we have major losses in manufacturing and major losses in construction and that's why we have seen men's unemployment rates rise much more than women's. However though, we are predominantly really a service-based economy and particularly after November, October of 2008, this recession began to look like that garden variety recession where consumption fell off, which is two thirds of GDP, investment also really slid and now we have had the government coming in to try to be that employer of last resort.

ROMANS: Here's the thing. So this wrenching social adjustment that we're talking about, we're all there, the balance sheets having to get back in line, when is the innovation going to come, the next big thing that's going to drive jobs growth.

In the meantime, you have 15.9 plus million Americans who are saying, OK, now what do I do? And we keep telling you that there are six job openings -- six job applicants for every one job opening. Is the key here to tell people how you can be that one person who's going to get the job that five others aren't? What can people do at home in the midst of this big upheaval that could take a few years if not longer to work out?

FREELAND: Well, I think we need to think about it on two levels, right? How can I take care of myself, and what can the country need to do to adjust collectively? In terms of taking care of yourself, I would say that the things you need to think about are you in a sector where you think there's going to be sustainable long-term job growth and are you in a part of the country where there's going to be job growth?

One of the real strengths of the U.S. economy and one of the reasons why we shouldn't give in to total despair is Americans are really good at moving around the country to where the jobs are, probably better than any other big country in the would. And that's why you see states that have higher unemployment tend to have people move to states that have lower unemployment and that happens really fast, within two or three two years.

So those are the two things I would bear in mind. And if you're thinking about your sort of median term employment prospects, I would echo what Bill had to say, which is service sector jobs are very hard to outsource. If it's something that you do hands on here in the country, then you're not going to lose that. And health care to me would seem like a real winner and that's one sector where we haven't seen job losses.

VELSHI: Bill and Chrystia, you'll be with us for the hour for this job special, "Gimme My Job Back."

ROMANS: OK, the single most important piece of information to get a job, to keep your job, to get a better job, the one thing you have to do, that's next.


VELSHI: Whether you're trying to get a job or just keep the job you have, our next guest has one single piece of advice for all of you. Don't stop networking.

ROMANS: Brad Karsh is the president and founder of JobBound, an author of "How To Say It On Your Resume." Brad, welcome back to the program.

BRAD KARSH, JOBBOUND: Thank you, it's great to be back.

ROMANS: OK networking, this is the single most important thing. If you've got the job, if you're looking for a job, if you want a better job, you need to be out there working it, so to speak? KARSH: Absolutely. And for people who do have jobs, one of the big misconceptions is they think, hey, my boss loves me, I'm fine, I'll never get let go, but the fact of the matter is, in a lot of organizations, especially larger ones, it's not your boss deciding whether or not you're going to keep that job. It might not even be your boss's boss, it's some senior VP, some division head who may not know you. And if they don't know you, the likelihood of losing your job is much greater. I mean, I sat around the room when we went through lay-offs and there's a list that goes around and people say, hey, anybody know Eric Pat? If nobody knows Eric Pat, you're on the list and you might lose your job, even if your boss thinks you're doing a great job.

VELSHI: So you're saying make yourself visible maybe even beyond the obvious, not just to your boss or your group. Be visible, be a workhorse and take on a valuable project.

KARSH: Right, exactly. So in terms of being visible or networking, try and associate yourself with something that somebody at senior levels is working on so maybe you can work on a project that reports directly let's say to that division head or maybe to work to help plan the holiday party or the corporate outing that you know is being headed up by that senior vice president. Or even show up at work at 7:00 if you know the top level executives are coming in at 7 every day and casually meet them in the lobby of the company. But it's key to get out there and get noticed by people within the organization.

ROMANS: It's interesting because everyone I know who is doing flex time, you know two days at week in the home office, three days a week in the office, every one of them says they're now going in at least four days if not five days a week just to be visible.

What if you've lost your job? Networking still incredibly important, isn't it?

VELSHI: Although harder to motivate yourself to do, but crucial.

ROMANS: But I think when you lose a job, you have to pretend as though your full-time job is getting a job and you have to keep that discipline, get up at 8:00 in the morning, put on the suit and get out there.

KARSH: Right. It is a lot of work to network and that's why people avoid it. But it is the single best way, still and especially to get a job. With stats as you said before, Christine, six applicants for every job, with stacks, you want to make sure that you're being pulled out of that stack and not being judged against hundreds of candidates but instead you're in a separate stack of people who have networked their way into a company with allows the recruiting director some little edge that's going to allow you to get the interview, perhaps.

VELSHI: Hey Brad, quick answer, social networking, should you use that, or whatever they call it, professional networking in some cases? KARSH: Absolutely. LinkedIn or even Facebook and others, a great way to get contacts to allow you to facilitate the networking process.

VELSHI: Good to see you. Brad Karsh is the president and founder of JobBound and JB Training Solutions.

ROMANS: And we're going to be seeing a lot of Brad Karsh in 2010 as we continue to try to get you your job back, right?

OK, as if the jobs market weren't bad enough, women still aren't getting paid as much as men. The gender gap it seems is still alive and well in this country. But first, CNN's Casey Wian, one man's path to overhauling his job in the turn around.


CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): When we first met Tony Briones nearly two weeks ago, he was living in his van spending mornings unsuccessfully looking for odd jobs at this Los Angeles day labor center.

TONY BRIONES, JOB SEEKER: I drive here every morning, I hope and pray that I can get some kind of work, something going on to make extra money.

WIAN: The 54-year-old father of two, grandfather of five spent 30 years as a warehouse worker and in construction.

BRIONES: I was on a ten-foot ladder and I was running hoses for the gas line. The ladder went one way, I went the other way and I messed up my shoulder.

WIAN: Briones says he's filled out hundreds of job applications without success. He's married with a severely disabled adult child at his former home yet he no longer feels right living there.

BRIONES: It's hard for your kids and grand kids to ask for money and you don't got it. Your wife got it, that's not -- I mean, she's trying to do what she can. But -- excuse me. It's not right. You know? I want to help support my family. I can't. That sucks. Excuse me. Sorry about that.

WIAN: Today, Briones has new hope thanks to Melissa Wolfe, a CNN viewer who volunteers at Chrysalis, a non-profit organization helping the homeless and people recently released from prison find jobs.

MELISSA WOLFE, ATTORNEY & VOLUNTEER: He's a perfect example of somebody that can be assisted by Chrysalis. He's homeless. He has motivation. He really just wants to be given a chance at employment. When I saw that piece, I real wanted to introduce him to the program.

WIAN: Wolfe helped Briones update his resume. Monday he arrived for his first day of job training classes.

BRIONES: I felt like a baby just took his first step or a little kid that's fell off the bike and you put him back up. That's how I felt like, like I just fell off the bike and they picked me up.

WIAN: Chrysalis says the recession has boosted the number of people using its job placement services by 40 percent since last year.

MARK LORANGER, CEO, CHRYSALIS: The types of clients have changed as well. We're seeing more clients that have what we call underemployed. Where they may be holding multiple jobs to make ends meet or they may not be getting a full 40 hours a week so they're looking for something better.

WIAN: For Briones, any job would be better than what he's endured. Last year, Chrysalis says more than 1,500 people or 80 percent of its clients found work at an average wage of nearly $10 an hour. One man who had nearly lost hope now believes he'll be working again soon.

BRIONES: Bless you guys for what you are doing. You make my life more shiny again. You know, so downside's over.

WIAN: Casey Wian, CNN, Los Angeles.



VELSHI: It's a twist on gender and equality. Men are losing more jobs than women during this recession, but that doesn't mean the wage gap between men and women is narrowing. In fact, the jobs men are losing are higher paid, construction and manufacturing jobs. The jobs women are keeping have tended to be lower paid even though they're in growing areas like education and health care.

ROMANS: Tory Johnson is a career analyst and founder and CEO of Women For Hire, which produces career fairs for women, so she knows this whole subject first hand. We have heard it called the man session or the he session that women have found themselves in this position that they're in jobs and in industries that haven't seen the mass layoffs or at least to the same degree as men. What -- how has changed sort of the game for women here?

TORY JOHNSON, CEO, WOMEN FOR HIRE: Well, I try to look at the positive, but you can't help but also see the downside too. So on the bright side, more women in the workplace right now are at least having equal representation among the total workforce. Means that we can use our voice. We can speak up about the things that matter most and that often means policies, protocols and cultures that are comfortable and supportive of women and families so that can be a good thing.

On the flip side, however, when you look at the family, for example, you know one specific family where perhaps the woman was in her home health care position and she gets to keep that job at maybe $27,000, $28,000 a year, but her husband has lost his $68,000 a year construction job, that's not a victory for women. That's not a victory for families. And so while we talk a lot and see a lot about the headlines of women getting to keep their jobs, many times it's at a significant price to those women and their families. VELSHI: Tory, something that was interesting. We were just talking to Brad Karsh about the importance of networking and we know because of the responsibilities that typically fall to working women, they have greater difficulty in networking than men do that don't do the same things.

In your book, you write about how women can try to bridge the gender gap. But in order to do so, as a woman in your workplace, you can't just go and ask for it, no one's just going to do it for you, so you have outlined some very specific things you can do if you're being paid less than your male counterparts.

JOHNSON: Sure. And one of those things is absolutely negotiating. A lot of times, we think that because this wage gap exists that it's simply an issue of bias. And while bias is certainly a piece of it, sometimes it's not just that glass ceiling or that issue of bias, but many times it's also a sticky floor and it's our own sticky floor that prevents us from speaking up, from seeking a higher paid position, from pursuing a promotion, for asking for more money, for asking our colleagues for help.

Many times we shy away from doing that. We're happy to have our desk be the dumping ground for everybody else but when it comes to speaking up for ourselves, we don't do it and that's definitely one of the reasons why women in many cases are paid less.

ROMANS: I want to talk to Bill and Chrystia and bring them into this conversation with us, Tory, because I've heard this again and again. Chrystia, I've heard this from so many people that women don't ask at the very front end, they don't ask for more money when they're offered a job. And there are some studies that show that they've lost 50 to 25 percent of their career earnings by not negotiating every time they walk into the office at the end of the year for the review or for the raise.

FREELAND: I think that's absolutely true and I think that it has to do with, you know, how we raise girls. We still -- I'm sure teach our girls to be a little bit less outspoken, a little more polite, a little nicer than our boys and I think anyone who employs both men and women will have had the anecdotal experience that the men who work for you are the guys who come into your office much more aggressive about saying, I did a great job, give me a raise. Women are much more reluctant to do that. From a boss's standpoint, that's kind of nice, but it's not very good for the women who are taking home the paychecks.

VELSHI: Hey Bill, you're been -- obviously you're an economist, you're a labor economist, you have seen this through different recessions. Is it fascinating to you that the wage gap has not narrowed over all these years?

RODGERS: Well, I think the overall gap has not narrowed in this recession, but when you break it out and slice it out by race and ethnicity, what we found out is that minority women have actually -- it looks as if they had actually made some gains during this recession relative to their counterpart men. But at one level, it's really probably a false gain because what's happened is, we have seen, it's a man's session, but particularly minority men --

VELSHI: Minority men have that much worse.

RODGERS: Exactly, and they have been losing their jobs at the lower part of the income scale.

ROMANS: So it's not that women are going up, it's that men are going down. And that's what is moving.

VELSHI: So really it's not even that we want the wage gap narrowed, we would like women to get paid more for what they do. But not...

FREELAND: Well and what's different right now is men are losing their jobs, right, that's not a great thing.

VELSHI: As Tory was saying, that's not a great --

RODGERS: But a lower level, it's about all workers regardless of whether you're male, female, African-American, white, or a Latino or Asian, that we're all getting back to the typical earnings of Americans are rising, staying up with the dramatic productivity growth that we've been seeing over the past few years.

FREELAND: Another thing that's quite interesting for me is how socially constructed wages are in different professions. So one of the things that we have seen here is the areas where women are working, they're not losing their jobs, but those are generally quite low paid. Whereas areas where men have been working, say construction, have been higher paid and we think of that as being sort of an economic phenomenon, but it's a social phenomenon too.

VELSHI: Tory, you have kicked off a great discussion for us. One of the things that I think it's important to take a look at in "Fired to Hired" in the writings of Tory Johnson is specific ways in which if you are a woman, you can help your situation by getting yourself a raise. Tory thanks for joining us.

JOHNSON: Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: All right, Bill and Chrystia are going to stick with us too, the rest of the hour as well. There's a new normal in the American workforce, what does its mean for you and for your job, or your job prospects? More on that next.


VELSHI: Welcome back to a special edition of "Your Money: Gimme My Job Back." I'm Ali Velshi.

ROMANS: I want your job.

VELSHI: Let's swap.

ROMANS: I'm Christine.

VELSHI: On the next commercial, we'll be sitting on the opposite side.

ROMANS: He'll have my job, I'll have his job. I'm Christine Romans. The unemployment rate at about a quarter-century high right now. This show is about empowering you with the knowledge you need to keep your job if you have one, find a new job if you're out of work, and get an idea of what the jobs of the future will be in this country.

VELSHI: And by the way, we all know someone who can use this advice, so you can pass on what you learn here to them. When we talk about job losses in this recession, few sectors have been as hard hit as the manufacturing sector. But manufacturing jobs have actually been vanishing in the United States for decades. Between 1995 and 2002 alone, the number of those jobs declined by 11 percent.

ROMANS: But some companies are finding ways to save manufacturing jobs and keep them here in this country even in these tough economic times.


VELSHI (voice-over): For someone who runs a guitar string manufacturing business, Jim D'Addario is also a bit of a tinkerer. Over the past two years, he's cut inventory, stream lined factory floor operations, updated technology, and saved jobs at his Long Island-based company.

JIM D'ADDARIO, CEO, D'ADDARIO: We made a commitment in the '70s that we were going to make our products, our D'Addario Strings in America. And we're still committed to that. We've never sold one string that we didn't make here in New York.

VELSHI: D'Addario is one of a growing number of U.S. manufacturers that has adopted the Toyota waste reduction strategy popularly known as LEAN that relies heavily on automation.

More than half of U.S. manufacturers surveyed have implemented LEAN or plan to do so. Critics say the automation eliminates jobs. D'Addario says the replaced workers can be cross trained to do other jobs.

D'ADDARIO: We do not want to lay people off because LEAN has been effective. That's not going to help people embracing LEAN and it's not going to really help our company or our community. What we're trying to do then is we take those people and we train them to do something else.

VELSHI: Like work in the guitar strap division, part of a company D'Addario acquired several years ago. Those jobs were previously in China. Today, Long Island. Economists say other companies can also position themselves to bring jobs home.

PETER MORICI, LABOR ECONOMIST: LEAN manufacturing makes it possible to create products in the United States efficiently, cost effectively and so forth. Some manufacturing should be done in China. But too much manufacturing is being done in China that could be done more effectively in the United States.

VELSHI: Jim D'Addario agrees and hopes that other manufacturers will follow his lead.

D'ADDARIO: I think people are afraid to make the commitment to LEAN, to automation, to reinvesting in their factories because they have this stigma in their mind, they have this belief that you can't make it effectively and profitably in America and that's not true. I think people give up on manufacturing in America prematurely. It can be done.


VELSHI: Well, it's interesting because this company was able to bring jobs back to the United States and make a case for efficient manufacturing here in the United States. So much of the news we constantly here is about losing those types of jobs to other countries.

ROMAN: And that really was the trend even during the boom and in fact, the Romans' Number for us to chew over this week in 2.3 million and it's trying to quantify just how many jobs were lost or displaced due to the trade imbalance specifically between the U.S. and China, that's from 2001 to 2007. 2001 is when China entered the World Trade Organization. This is according to a study by the progressive think tank Economic Policy Institute. So the number that they put on how many jobs have gone overseas because of globalization with China, essentially 2.3 million.

VELSHI: What did you say? Those jobs lost and jobs -- what was the other thing?

ROMANS: Jobs lost in 2001 and 2007.

VELSHI: Right.

ROMANS: Because of our trade deficits.


ROMANS: Our dawning trade gap with China. Now people on the other side of the equation will tell you because of foreign direct investment into this country, we have actually in-sourced millions of jobs as well.

VELSHI: Right.

ROMANS: But...

VELSHI: And then there's aspect -- the non-job aspect and that is that we buy a lot of cheap goods made in other countries and that affects our standard of living on the other side.

ROMANS: True. And even Ben Bernanke has said -- I think it was last year -- when he was asked about the stimulus, you know, what should we be doing? VELSHI: Yes.

ROMANS: How should we be personally spending the first stimulus check? We got $168 billion. He said, well, you know, it would be best to spend it on something actually manufactured in this country. And that was protectionist sacrilege among some people.


ROMANS: But it does make sense. If you go out and buy $600 Sanyo TV, you know, you are sustaining jobs in the United States in terms of the retail jobs that sell that. But the manufacturing of that product comes from some place else.

VELSHI: There a lot of TVs manufactured in the United States?

ROMANS: You know, I don't even know. Is Sanyo really TV? I don't even have a TV so I'm really not the person to ask.

VELSHI: The question, of course, for the purposes of this show, "Gimmie My Job Back," are these jobs coming back? Are any of these jobs going to come back or will they be replaced by new work? What will the new normal be for the American labor force?

ROMANS: Chrystia Freeland is managing editor of the "Financial Times." Bill Rodgers is former chief economist of Department of Labor, and professor and chief economist at Rutgers.

Bill, let me ask you first about this new normal. The new normal is going to be a lot of people looking for work for the next couple of years. The new normal is construction and manufacturing jobs may or may not be coming back. What is it going to look like for us?

BILL RODGERS, PROF. & CHIEF ECONOMIST, RUTGERS UNIVERSITY: Well, it's going to look like a situation where people have to spend a great deal of time pounding the payment, in particular, one of the areas that I like -- I recommend people doing is making sure that you are doing some -- your net working, but a new type of networking, get involved with some local nonprofits.

ROMANS: Volunteering.


ROMANS: I have actually talked to people who very volunteering and got a job offer from the other executive who's standing next to them painting a school wall and then when that person had to go hire somebody, boom.


ROMANS: They remember the person they met at the school.

RODGERS: Exactly. United Way, an organization, I'm a board chair (INAUDIBLE) County and also involved in the region here. It's a corporate-led organization and so you are volunteering next to other individuals...

ROMANS: In your field, maybe.

RODGERS: In your fields, and so that's one aspect is, again, it's networking, networking, networking. But also I think, to something Christine said earlier, too, it's again where are the jobs going to be?


RODGERS: And if you look at the structure, if you look at the public policy that's being generated right now, it's health care, it's education, it's energy and green types of jobs.

CHRYSTIA FREELAND, MANAGING EDITOR, FINANCIAL TIMES: I have something -- I have a new area to throw into the mix which you might all sigh about. But I was talking to some senior Silicon Valley executives and they said what they most wanted their kids to grow up to be was, hold your breath, statisticians.

VELSHI: No kidding.

FREELAND: They think that is where the jobs of the future will be because one of the things that technology has done is allowed us to collect vast amounts of data in almost every business. The people who are able to in a sophisticated and practical way analyze that data are going to have terrific jobs.

VELSHI: Well, you bring up...

ROMANS: We're going to be counting the numbers and counting the beans, right?


ROMANS: That's a really good point.

VELSHI: I think the point here is that there are areas of growth. Geographically and in terms of industry there are areas of growth and we're going to talk a little bit more about those. Sadly there are a lot of folks out there who have lost their jobs and many more who are going to find themselves unemployed in the next year.

We know that that's not ending altogether too soon. But you can protect yourself by knowing your rights if you're laid off or if you think you're going to be laid off. Grab a pen and paper and we're going to tell you exactly how to protect yourself next.


VELSHI: 2009 could really be known as the year of the layoff.

ROMANS: Yes, if it happens to you or someone you know, there are ways to protect yourself and hopefully look to 2010, the year of getting a job, right?

VELSHI: Well, here to help you know you're right is Robin Bond. She's an employment attorney and workplace expert from Philadelphia.

Robin, great to see you again. Thank you for being with us. Here's an interesting one. If you -- if you think a layoff is coming, if you fear a layoff is coming, should you try and get in ahead of the pack and negotiate a deal with your employer or should you sit and wait to see what happens?

ROBIN BOND, EMPLOYMENT ATTORNEY: Oh, no, we have been saying that for a long time, Ali. If you know this marriage is not going to be saved and the hand writing is on the wall, definitely take an affirmative offensive move to strike your best deal. Because if you're lumped in with the mass layoff, you're going to get treated like the masses.

If you can strike a one off, as I say, your own individual deal, perhaps you can get something better. Example, perhaps you can longer time on payroll, you can offer to be the transition person, you can offer to try and do consulting afterwards.

You can even offer to go in and say, look, if the handwriting is on the wall, take one for the team, maybe that will save two or three other people from losing their jobs. But I'd like to ask you this, will you promote me to vice president before you let me go because that will enhance my ability to get another job.

VELSHI: Very interesting. Haven't thought about that.

ROMANS: That's a really good idea. What cases can it hurt you, or can it even hurt you to approach your boss ahead of time and say, look, I'm willing to try to do this?

BOND: It can, you know, because you could get what you ask for maybe.

ROMANS: If you don't ask, you're not going to get it.


ROMANS: I mean, you've told us that many times, Robin. If you don't ask, you're not going to get it.

BOND: That's exactly right. It can -- I always say, though, you don't lose deals because you ask, you lose them because of how you ask. And it's very important when you're presenting a deal that you not talk about what's in it for you, but rather about how this is a great idea for the boss and for the company and how you're going to really help them if they follow your recommendations on how to handle your departure.

ROMANS: That's one of the big tricks in the work place, right? Always make it your boss's idea.

BOND: Yes, right, right.

VELSHI: Right.

ROMANS: You know, the brilliant boss's idea. Like this show, for example, is our boss's idea. VELSHI: Let's talk about warrant act. What does that mean?

BOND: That's the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act. It's a federal law that applies to private employers of 100 and more employees. That means it doesn't apply to government. It applies to other businesses. Even nonprofits.

And in those circumstances, if they're going to have a plant closing or a mass layoff, or a sale of a business, then there are requirements that they give those affected workers a minimum of 60 days advance written notice that this is going to happen. So those workers have an opportunity to retrain and find another job during that time.

ROMANS: Let me ask you if you're an older worker and you have very specific rights if you're an older worker, tell us about that.

BOND: Yes, that's the Older Worker's Benefit Protection Act. Very important, if you are age 40 or over and your boss presents you with a severance agreement and a release whereby you have to go with your rights to sue, then you have the right to have a minimum of 21 days to review that agreement and they must tell you this in writing.

They also must tell you you have a right to consult with an attorney. They also must give you an attachment that shows a list of every position by title that's affected by the layoff and the age of the person in that position you can determine whether there's an age bias in this layoff process.

And then even if you sign a release agreement giving up your rights to sue, you have seven days afterwards to change your mind and revoke the acceptance. This all must be in writing...


BOND: ... for employees age 40 or older or the releases are not effective.

VELSHI: OK. It's like a suck to the gut when you get those notices, but there are things you should think about.

Robin, you've brought some of them to our attention. There's 401(k)s, there's COBRAs. It's almost like if you know you're going to get laid off or you get laid off, you've got to switch into high gear.

Thank you for your advice as always, Robin. Good to see you.

Robin Bond...

BOND: Thank you.

VELSHI: Workplace legal expert.

ROMANS: All right, next, how many times have you heard there are jobs Americans won't do? Are there really jobs Americans won't do and at what point will Americans have to do these jobs?


VELSHI: Mention illegal immigration and jobs and you are sure to have a debate on your hands.

ROMANS: That's very true. And as jobless benefits run out can we really afford to have jobs that some considered to be jobs Americans won't do? You've heard it many times. This is as much a jobs issue as it is a wage issue. But some businesses over the past 10 to 20 years relying on cheap labor provided by people who don't have documents, who aren't supposed to be working and in many cases don't have any rights.

Steven Camarota is director of research with the Center for Immigration Studies. His firm favors less legal and illegal immigration. Thank you for joining us on the program.

Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: First off, you take issue with this phrase we hear a lot that there are jobs that Americans won't do. And those jobs are being filled by people from other countries. You say that there really aren't job categories that Americans won't do. Tell us.

STEVEN CAMAROTA, DIR. OF RESEARCH, CTR. FOR IMMIGRATION STUDIES: That's right. The government collects actually pretty detailed information by occupation and it turns out most of the janitors, most of the construction laborers, most of the meatpackers, and really any occupation you care to name outside of agriculture, which is only a small portion of the workforce, are overwhelmingly done by native born Americans.

So there really isn't any job that Americans don't do. Most jobs are done overwhelmingly by Americans.

ROMANS: Let's walk through your data that you have from the Census Bureau. Maids and housekeepers, you say, 55 percent are people who were born in this country. Butchers and meat processors, 63 percent. Janitors 75 percent. Presumably the other people in those categories are people who are legally in this country or illegal in the country. The census doesn't break out the difference between legal status of people.

Does it get to be a point there where, maybe next year, we're talking about immigration reform, which the Department of Homeland Security, you know, Secretary Janet Napolitano, has said that they're going to push for immigration reform next year. That could me legalizing people in this country.

Are you going to be in a situation where you've got 15 million people out of work and now you've got new legal entrants in the workforce?

CAMAROTA: That's right. I mean obviously we allow in over a million new people every year with work authorization, but yes, the question is, does that really make sense about the illegals? We've got 7 or 8 million illegals working in the United States, and less educated Americans. Those with no education beyond high school. Their unemployment is 15 to 20 percent right now.

There are at least 6 or 7 million people who have no education beyond high school who are not working right now and these are the kinds of jobs they do. It would seem to make more sense to try to enforce the law, encourage illegals to go home and at least free up some of these jobs for less educated Americans.

VELSHI: Bill Rodgers, former chief economist at the Department of Labor, now Rutgers University. Bill, what's your thought on what we're hearing here.

RODGERS: I think even while several months ago you all profiled it several individual who, you know, got into landscaping. And...

ROMANS: And dry walling. We did a dry walling piece, too.

RODGERS: Right. Which is again a job in terms of, you know, in quotes, is being viewed as a job of an American doing that or a native doing that. When -- as I said, when safety nets are weaker today we know it's from the past in terms of being eligible. There have been expansions in unemployment insurance and food stamps, but structurally that ability for those supports to be there are weaker and so people have had to really re-adjust and re-evaluate where they want to go, what they want to do.

ROMANS: But you think the issue for low skilled American worker is less about competition from immigration and more about education and about other issues in the economy. Is that right?

RODGERS: That's correct. If you, sort of, had a pie chart you were sort of divided up into the slivers of one of the most important. Illegal immigration and it's crowding out effect is probably smaller for a young African-American or a young minority. It's an issue about quality of education, early job opportunities.

It's an issue about being in a community that's got a full functioning job creation engine as opposed to having to really take several buses to get out to the suburbs for the jobs and ultimately it's also, of course, still discrimination.

CAMAROTA: Can I comment on that?


ROMANS: Sure, jump in, Steven.

CAMAROTA: Well, look, there was a recent study done by the top economists in the field on this very question. A guy at Harvard named George Poorhouse. His estimates show that for less educated black men, since you mentioned it, immigration accounted for about 40 percent of the decline in their workforce participation. That is the share who are not looking and don't have a job.

So your other panelist is right. Immigration is not the whole story, but it may be up to half the story and it's one of the things we could really do something about right now. ROMANS: And Steven...

CAMAROTA: Enforce the laws.

ROMANS: Steven, the other part of that equation was, what, globalization, right, and the downfall of unions? Am I right?

CAMAROTA: And technological innovation tends to dampen down. So there are other factors. There are big factor impeding less educated people from working. Some of them have to do with the culture of poverty, poor education. These are important things that we should be thinking about and addressing.

But they are not something we can address tomorrow. We start actually enforcing the laws tomorrow and free up more jobs. Most of these jobs have seen a huge decline in wages. Take meat packing. Very well studied. Real wages, are you ready for this, are 45 percent lower today than they were in 1980.

If it really is true that you're having trouble recruiting Americans, how about you look at your wage structure. This is true of other occupational categories as well. Farming jobs pay somewhere around 15 percent less than they did a few decades ago. Bottom line. Less educated workers make much less than they used to.

So it really makes no sense to keep adding to the bottom end of the U.S. labor market through tolerating lots of legal immigration and then of course illegal immigration on top of that.

ROMANS: I think there's a lot of interesting data and issues. Some of the data issues and opinions all contradict each other. But I do think that when you have 15.9 million people out of work and you're looking at 2010 when the administration has said that we're going to try to tackle immigration reform again, I think all of these issues are going to be on the table in trying to figure out again how to solve a big problem in the American economy without hurting economic growth, while being humane, enforcing the rule of law, and recognizing just some of the things that are frankly a fact of life in this country.

VELSHI: Right.

RODGERS: You started this segment off with that this is a very politically charged conversation.

ROMANS: Absolutely.

RODGERS: And so I just don't want to -- I just want to make sure that we keep our eye on the prize here, eye on the target, and not particularly demonize or demagogue a particular group when they're only -- and I would bet to differ there are other studies that go the other way. That suggests that immigrants can add and add to our economy, to our society. So, again...

ROMANS: And the Fiscal Policy Institute released a similar report saying that where you see high levels of immigration, you see high levels of economic growth during the boom. So I mean we can go back and forth on all of that.

Steven Camarota...

CAMAROTA: Well, the immigrants go where jobs are. That's the thing. It's kind of a confusing cause and effect there.

ROMANS: Right. Steven Camarota, Center for Immigration Studies, director of research there. Thanks for joining us. Also Bill Rodgers, former Department of Labor chief economist, also now at Rutgers, as always a real pleasure to have you on the program, Bill.

RODGERS: Appreciate it. Great to see you all.

VELSHI: Well, saving the planet and saving jobs at the same time. A closer look at green-collared jobs, next.


ROMANS: Call it the great green hope. The green technology and green-collar jobs will rescue the labor market. There are jobs, these are jobs that in some way, shape or form, they benefit the environment or their actions or their products benefit the environment. That has all spurred -- that has spurred all sorts of training programs including one we found in New Orleans called the Louisiana Green Corps.


UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Hi, there. (INAUDIBLE). You know that you're losing, what? Energy.

ROMANS (voice-over): The skills taught here are green.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: This is recycled newspaper.

ROMANS: And so are the students.

SUZY MASON, PROGRAM DIRECTOR, LA GREEN CORPS: We do work with 17 to 24-year-olds who lack work history, are often low income, court involved. Our corps members don't want to hang out on the street. They want to be productive. They want to work.

ROMANS: That's where Louisiana Green Corps comes in. Based in New Orleans and funded through a grant from the U.S. Labor Department, the program teaches young adults how to weatherize and rehabilitate homes.

MASON: We're giving a general base of construction knowledge, carpentry skills. We also emphasize academic improvement, work readiness, and really encourage our corps members to make positive life decisions.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: There's a lot of work to be done in New Orleans.

ROMANS: One of the people doing that work is L.A. Green Corps graduate Chris Williams. After completing the program he landed a job with local contractor Brotherhood Way, weatherizing homes and building new ones.

CHRIS WILLIAMS, LA GREEN CORPS GRADUATE: I believe that this program helps kids by, you know, letting them see that there is another way, you know, besides, you know, maybe they aren't -- you know maybe they don't have that high school diploma or maybe they aren't the ones who go to college.

So this program, you know, it invites them in and it gives them the opportunity to learn a trade, you know, to learn a skill. On average their energy bill will be $20 to $30 on the month.

ROMANS: Despite Chris's success, jobs are still hard to come by. So far out of 177 LA Green Corps graduates, 36 percent have found jobs and a third have gone back to school. Even those who didn't immediately find work have achieved something.

DAVID WEATHERSBY, CHRIS' BOSS AT BROTHERHOOD WAY: For Chris and so many other young adults, when they finish the program, they are ready to be thrown into the work force.

ROMANS: So when the job market does turn around, they're ready.


VELSHI: OK. Some quick final thoughts from you on whether or not this is the magic bullet. We hear so much about green jobs. When we say what's coming back to replace this, we hear green jobs. What do you think?

FREELAND: I think green jobs could be part of the solution but they're definitely not the magic bullet. If there's a single thing that America can do for itself as a country and individual viewers can do for themselves as people I would say improve your skills. Get better education. As you go up the education ladder, unemployment gets lower and lower.

ROMANS: Right. The unemployment rate for someone with a bachelor's degree right now is 4.7 percent. By my...

VELSHI: That's less than half a national average.

ROMANS: That is essentially full employment if you have a bachelor's degree. It's harder to get a job out of college. But once you get that job the unemployment rate is very low.

RODGERS: That's correct. But, again, though, at the beginning of this recession the unemployment rate for college grads was around 2.5, 3 percent. So yes, it's more than doubled. One good positive piece here is that our stimulus policy looks very different from coming out of 2001 recovery.

There that stimulus policy was -- and I understand what you're trying to do in terms of fighting terrorism, but from a standpoint of growing jobs that dollars spent in Iraq didn't have the multiplier effects that the kind of stimulus package that we've passed now, and that we're doing there. These are focusing on infrastructure. These are domestic investments.

So instead of being a drag on economic growth the stimulus package and the kind of investments that are being also laid out in the president's budget will, I think, be more expansionary to help the economy grow. So it's a big picture. Green jobs, one component of the puzzle.

VELSHI: Bill, good to talk to you. Thank you so much. Bill Rodgers is professor and chief economist at Rutgers University, former chief economist for the U.S. Department of Labor. Chrystia Freeland is the managing editor of the "Financial Times."

ROMANS: All right, thank you for joining us for this very special edition of YOUR MONEY. If 2009 was the year of the layoff, 2010 will be the year we help you. "Gimme My Job Back." You can follow Ali Velshi and me at Facebook and twitter at Christine Romans and Ali Velshi.

VELSHI: Make sure you tune in every week for YOUR MONEY, Saturdays at 1:00 p.m. Eastern, Sundays at 3:00. You can also logon 24/7 at Have a great weekend.