Where Did Your Job Go? Economists Can't Answer

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

58 Democrats and two Republicans in the U.S. Senate overcame a Republican filibuster and moved closer to extending unemployment benefits to 2.5 million Americans. A final vote is expected later today.

The larger unemployment picture is complex. The national unemployment rate dropped to 9.5 percent in June, down 0.2 percent from the previous month. However, job growth remained stagnant, with only 21 states seeing net job gains. 

With unemployment still high and practically no job growth, we're asking: where have all the jobs gone? We want you to help us track them down: if you're unemployed, or if you know someone who is, tell us: What happened to the job? Did it go overseas? Or did the company downsize?

We speak with Kim Motter, who saw his job transferred to West Virginia, to the very people he helped train, ironically.

We also speak with Bill Galston, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution.

The New York Times Caucus blog spoke to economists about the mystery of the disappearing jobs:

The whodunit has flummoxed economists in both parties for a year. In 2009, as the new Obama administration grappled with the financial crisis, joblessness rose nearly two points beyond customary recession forecasts.

On Facebook:

"My company is getting busy again, but not hiring....keeping it lean and mean to pay off debt incurred during the down time." Janice Bissell

"Unemployed. AT&T lost (really gave up by not bidding on) the Maryland relay contract. The new contract owner for Maryland would have a center in Frostburg, 120 miles west of Baltimore and too far from home for me. AT&T had other offers but they were in Georgia, Virginia and Pennsylvania, still too far away for me, a man with no license and still living at home. But AT&T did offer career training and education funding for me to go back to school (along with my AmeriCorps award). I almost wish I took the out of state offer. But then I wouldn't be able to further my education as I intended." Tyrone Thorpe

By text (TAKE to 69866):

"Downsizing. Her boss (owner of a small biz) couldn't afford to pay her!" —Texter from New York.

"I have a friend whose job disappeared due to downsizing. However, the agency he worked for reopened the position and rehired 2 others for the position. They divided his position into 2 parts and split the salary between the two. Horrible!" —Texter from Denver, Colo.


William Galston and Kim Motter

Produced by:

David J Fazekas

Comments [11]


Hate to say it but illegal immigrants hold may jobs that Americans could could do. Restaurants, Hotels, Landscape, Construction, etc. But the illegals will work for less, and therefore they get hired. We need to deport these illegals now!

Aug. 06 2010 06:29 PM
David from New York, NY

Oh my god, The Takeaway is so much better when Hockenberry's not there.

How amazingly refreshing to hear actual intelligent, substantive, discussion with depth, instead of nothing but useless, snarky, half-clever sniping.

Jul. 21 2010 08:20 AM
John from Detroit

My job in web editing was, and remains, a temp. job. I was let go and replaced by a woman who worked for $1 less per hour. While the general job market is 5-1 (looking/available), web work is more like a 12-1 ratio. I freelance, but I'm competing with folks around the globe, which means I have to work for nearly nothing when I can win a bid, at all.

Jul. 21 2010 08:18 AM
Sam from NYC

The guest(s) on the show seem(s) to be clueless as to where the jobs have gone? Just blame it on the downturn. How did we get to be this pathetic? Blame it on the much cheaper Asian labor. China & Co. is wiping us out. Blame it on NAFTA, fruits and vegs are much cheaper. The consumers are having a feast. The Costa Rican bananas are much cheaper than Hawaiian ones..... CA growers can't get anyone to pick their bounties even if they pay $7, yet the Mexicanos will do it for $3.... Those jobs are gone, gone, gone. The American worker will not want to be paid $5 picking strawberries. Anyone who would think the 9.7% unemployment rate will go away soon is still in dreams. Not until we abolish NAFTA, be willing to live at a lower standard of living because we'd have to accept lower wages so we may compete.....

Jul. 21 2010 08:17 AM
Jon from The Suburbs of NY

My position in an in-house graphic design department, was outsourced, to a midwest agency, to keep costs down. In an interesting twist, I spoke to the VP, of said midwestern agency, the other day. He was one of many people laid off, to make up for the rock bottom price the agency had bid, to get the outsourcing contract.

Jul. 20 2010 09:23 PM
Mikey from Salt Lake City, Utah

I am securely employed, but my two brothers both lost their jobs to corporate greed and malfeasance.

One brother lost his job when retailer Mervyn's was liquidated by the private-equity firm which purchased it with exactly that intention. He has since found a job with a competitor. The Mervyn's liquidation is currently the subject of litigation.

One brother lost his job with a telco firm when all of its employed technicians were told that they could become "contractors" or would be laid off. He naturally chose to become a "contractor". Then the company fired all of its newly-minted "contractors", making them ineligible for unemployment insurance, and saving itself having to make unemployment insurance payroll contributions. He is still unemployed, although he found temporary seasonal work during the holidays.

Jul. 20 2010 05:29 PM
Barbara from Northern New Jersey

I've been in the medical field, doing X-ray and Ultrasound, for over 35 years. I was replaced by a recent graduate who is young enough to be my daughter (and is probably being paid half my salary).
For the past 10 to 15 years, community colleges and for profit technical schools have been saturating the market with medical techs.
Where I live, there are no full time jobs in radiology, and very few part time or per diem positions being advertised.
I believe the medical field gearing down in anticipation of the new healthcare reform.

Jul. 20 2010 04:41 PM
kim motter from New York, NY

After I trained employees in West Virginia to do my job, all my work was transferred there and my law firm support job of 21 years disappeared due to lack of work in NYC. Hard to compete with employees willing to work for 2/3 of metropolitan area salaries. An outsource vendor runs this back office outpost which is quietly backed up by a legion of employees in India. Once the outsource company gets the work transferred remotely behind the closed doors of their American outpost, who's to know where in the world the work is actually done?

Jul. 20 2010 02:27 PM
Ross from New York, NY

The first time I was laid off was in 2003 at very beginning of the financial distress after the 2001 NASDAQ IT stock plummet. By 2003 I was laid off from my IT job at Ford Motor Company.

I took any job I could find (at retail stores and laser hair removal call center) and watched my savings and quality of life gradually decline (from new car to VERY old car, from a home to an apartment, to a smaller apartment, to having roommates). I went back to college for retraining and entered Non-Profit sector.

I then relocated to New York City where there were higher wages. Then the really big financial downturn happened. I was laid off from the Non-Profit position the day after Christmas 2008.

I'm 35 working part-time, I have no health insurance and no savings. I don't earn enough to cover my student loan payments (though I am planning to start grad-school) I do not expect to ever retire or recover my previous level of income.

Jul. 20 2010 02:18 PM
McHardy Smith from Warren, NJ

I was in basic research at a big Pharma for 20 yrs. My company was down-sizing and got rid of 50 of 158 PhDs in my wave of lay-offs. Big Pharma as an industry is moving from doing internal research to "out-sourcing" and "off-shoring" for new drugs. This new business model is not what I envisioned when I started my PhD 30 yrs ago. I recognize the necessity for the new business model, but am still looking for a place to tuck myself in as a productive member of society.

Jul. 20 2010 01:13 PM
Lyndon from Stillwater, OK

I was told it was due to the economic climate. Unfortunately, I'm at an age where I'm way too young to retire but too old to get hired. I'm beginning to think that jobs that require sending college transcripts are using those transcripts to weed out older workers.

Jul. 20 2010 11:19 AM

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