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Poll: The jobs crisis

Who's best equipped to solve the jobs crisis?

View Results

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Or let us know what you think –
and why — in the comments below.

  • thumb
    Main Street: Findlay, Ohio
    Need to Know travels to Ohio to assess how workers are faring after the loss of millions of manufacturing jobs over the past 35 years.
  • thumb
    Following the money: Tax breaks
    New CBO report echoes the findings of Need to Know's "A tale or four tax returns."
  • thumb
      Certifiably employable
    Rick Karr recently visited Seattle to look at a program designed to give the unemployed the skills they need to find jobs in one of the country’s fastest-growing industries.


  • austin view

    govt. has already shown they cannot doit. under the present admn. big businesses is only interested in shipping work to other countries. we need to bring work back to the states and stop worring about making large profits

  • Victor Mason

    Dear Mr. Greenfield:

    Thanks for helping keep up the high reporting standards of “Need to Know.”

    Sincerely yours,

    Victor Mason

  • Mike Maverick

    combination of Private and Public Fortune 5000 and Small Independent businesses
    will reinvigorate the US Economy and provide ample job opportunities if the
    Federal, State and Local Governments get out of the way, reduce and/or
    eliminate job killing regulation(s) and let the Market Place demands and Free
    Enterprise System determine what business succeed or fail.

  • CK

    The reason why we are having this problem is that we are most of the manufacturing jobs are gone to other countries. The reason that happened was it was cheaper for companies to manufacture/produce stuff in other countries than in America. America is more expensive because workers have better compensation and benefits than these other countries.

    You can reduce this expense by cutting salaries and benefits but impacts standard of living as well as the capacity of American workers to spend. This solution is not sustainable unless you want to have the same standard of living as some of these other countries.

    You cannot make companies create more jobs here if they find it cheaper to do it somewhere else. No tax incentive will be sufficient for them to create jobs here. The only option is to mandate this…..that is make it a law. If some company is selling more than x $ of their stuff in America, they need to make/produce some percentage of that in this country.

    I’m sure economists can come up with some healthy number for this so that it does not impact inflation drastically. I’m sure people would it mind paying little more if there are more jobs available.

  • Itsgoode2bking

    Small businesses are and always have been the backbone of our economic “machine”.  In the past, the government offered “guarantees” through the SBA allowing new businesses and new ideas an opportunity to grow.  New start-ups do not have the “equity” banks demand in order to provide economic assistance.  Small loans (less than $50,000) were available and as a result, new, small businesses grew in America (1950′s – early 1990′s).  Today, those programs are gone adding to this depression.

    Steven King

  • forthemasses

    Right now the only one who has loyalty to all economic classes in the US is the government. Idealistically put “it is for the people by the people.”  On the other hand small business who loyalties  to themselves and their owners and it is even worst in fortune 500 companies who have loyalties to stockholders demand for a profitable returns that they are willing to outsource many US jobs to get it. Which in essence is quite contrary to internal economic growth.  Money saved by this only ends up on the hands on either the very wealthy, instead of the individual common consumer who if they were able to spend in the masses may result in stimulating the economy out of the recession.  On the other hand the very rich would spend it on i.e. buying a condo in Dubai. 

  • Jan Gajda

    for a long time the demand side of economy was shrinking. -wages  stagnant, non salary costs of employment growing rapidy [if employer has to pay for medical insurance 8% more every  year  there will not be much money left to raise salaries, Tax burden taken away from rich and put on working class{do not like. misleading term "middle class"].Having mortgage paid off by 65 downsizing and supplementing social security with the difference used to be great stimulant on the demand side of the economy and important element of “american dream” .Now that stimulant is mostly over [-real estate collapse- huge amounts  of equity evaporated-] On the other side of spectrum we have walthy companies and individuals who pay much less taxes ,- gains in prductivity almost entirely devoured by them. Record profits and  excess money used  in cassino style financial speculations -Buissnesses  will not hire and invest even thou they have a lot of money if they do not see demand.-  That radical imbalance can be   fixed.- In order to  avoid 25 year recession like in Japan, taxes on wealthy individuals and on excess corporate profits have to be drasticly raised -.-80 %  of money raised should go to lower  taxes  at the bottom..-and remaining 20% to lower the deficit.-Its necessary to create demand on the massive scale  IT will unclog the system.   Beside being fair  it will benefit absolutely everybody  I know it seems very radical  but without it America will evolve slowly into society and economy similar of that of Mexico today -{and I wish  mexicans to go the other way}

  • Kurt

    As a small business owner (less than 500 employees, federal government definition), I think Mike Maverick’s comment is oversimplified and fails to recognize the important role that governments plays, including it’s regulatory role. 

  • Josh

    It is obvious that by adding more regulation, and more taxes, you take more of businesses profit which could be used to reinvest. This has been shown in history and right now with outsourcing. You make it harder for new businesses to start up and for current businesses, both big and small, to continue. 

    If government stops making it hard for business to run, reinvest, hire, and be created, then the solution lies in both small and fortune 500 companies. Companies both big and small created jobs and provide useful services. Business are all the solution, not government. 

  • Goldilox

    The Tea Party does not trust Big Government and Occupy Wall St. does not trust Big Business. Good on them. That leaves small business and moderate voters to get things done. We are maybe 95% of that other 99%. Screw the wing nuts, let’s fix our country.

  • uriel81

    The answer is actually “small business with the help of government and lending institutions.”

  • Chris G

    Small business is the life blood of this country. Big government is bad government. Gov jobs are for the lazy cronies, nepots, & unions that want to suck up the hard working peoples’ tax dollars. This big government, democrat leach thinking, must be crushed before we become a third world country[ like Greece is heading, same thinking though]. The liberal slugs like the late Ted Kennedy, Obama, Pelosi, Kerry,Reid are nothing but a cancer to this once proud country. Thankfully, defeating this one man US wrecking ball, Obama, a man with no track record of leading anything and is proving how incompetent he is. Looks like people are waking up to how much many of them  made a TRAGIC MISTAKE! Bring back America, DEFEAT OBAMA!

  • Havefun55

    The job crisis hit declining manufacturing cities like East St. Louis, Illinois and Gary, Indiana some 30 years ago, and more recently cities like Detroit and Baltimore.  There wasn’t any huge outcry over their loss then.  These cities are now decayed shells with no future.  Many of those former workers ended up on state benefits, and eventually ceased being counted as unemployed long ago and were forgotten by this country.  Now the Middle Class is finally hurting, and everyone is screaming about the job crisis.  Where was this concern back in the 1980s and 1990s when the job crisis was hitting the working class and poorly-skilled workers in the manufacturing sectors?  

    That gets me to the point.  Many Americans who were not clever enough to be born into well-to-do families and who have not gotten an expensive education have to rely on these manufacturing and low-skill jobs.  Sadly, these very jobs they depended on have been outsourced to countries where low income and the lack of benefits such as health insurance, workman’s comp, paid vacation, paid breaks, sick & personal time, together with lax or non-existing environment regulations, simply make American workers less ‘profitable’ in comparison.  That then leads to higher unemployment and leaves the unemployed to collect state benefits and welfare in a time when fewer people are working and paying income tax.   

    Of course no one really cared about this as long as the job losses over the past decades only affected the working class and low-skilled workers.  Now the job crisis is affecting the white collar middle class, and everyone is terribly concerned and demanding action. 

    As for the lost jobs, don’t expect them to come back.  Small businesses have little option but to operate on a local level, securing some jobs for people.  But larger companies are a different case. They can outsource work (including highly-skilled labor) and they need only spend a fraction of the cost. 

  • Azimamlg

    Your anger appears to be affecting your ability to think rationally.  This is a multifaceted problem that requires the cooperation of all aspects of our society to solve it. Name calling, mudslinging and other expressions of anger may make you feel better for a very short time, but it will not solve any problems or convince anyone that your point of view is right. Yell and scream that you are as mad as hell for as long as it takes for you to calm down.  After you are calmer take some of the energy of your anger to do something you think will help solve the problem/

  • Azimamlg

    This is a great theory.  Unfortunately it doesn’t work without necessary regulation.  If the only goal of business is maximum profit, there are many unscrupulous people who will take advantage of their fellow citizens by any means ( some of them actually illegal). Lack of regulation and oversight of financial institutions paved the way to the Great Recession.

  • John Harrison

    In some economic conditions additional tax cuts for businesses would allow them to hire more workers and create jobs. But we are not in that kind of an economy right now. Suppose that a store owner gets a tax cut. He could use the additional money to hire more workers. But without an increase in customers coming into his store the new workers will have nothing to do. So he isn’t going to hire them. He could use the tax cut money to lower his prices to get more customers. But in this economic climate he would hardly get any more customers. The unemployed and the under employed can only buy necessities, namely food. So they still are not going to go into his store. Others who are getting by are afraid of the future (with good reason) and so they are trying to pay off their debts and buy as few extras as possible. They are not going into his store either.
    Suppose a manufacture gets an additional tax cut. He is not going to hire more workers because the stores are not ordering more of his products. So what will he do with his tax cut money? If he has big debts he will use it to pay them off. The bank will then take that money and buy government bonds with it, since it has no other good place to invest that money. If he doesn’t have much debt he may likely use his tax cut money to buy government bonds himself. This causes the money to circulate around and around between the government and businesses without creating any jobs.
    Maybe the businessman will take his tax cut money and buy extra stuff or take a vacation. You might think that that would create more jobs. It doesn’t, because the government has to borrow more money from somewhere to pay for the tax cut. At the same time as he’s getting his tax cut someone else is buying government bonds to pay for it. The government pulls money out of the system through borrowing as fast as it puts it in through tax cuts. It also pulls money out as fast as it puts it in through bailouts and rebates.
    I voted for the government as best equipped to solve the job crisis. Each business by itself is too small to solve the problem. The unemployed are obviously helpless to solve it. The government has to take the lead. It would be great if the government could do something slick to cause businesses to hire more workers. But tax cuts, bailouts and rebates obviously haven’t worked. They don’t work in theory either as I tried to explain above.
    Government demand during World War II got us out of the Great Depression. Now we have our own wars begging for our attention. We need to use them to create government demand. They are global warming, energy, and the crumbling infrastructure. But one thing, the government spending must go to the unemployed, not to those who already have the money; otherwise it won’t work.

  • jan

    There are not enough small businesses to rehire all the people who want jobs. 

    Its like Bush’s faith based initiative.  Around here, the area food bank doesn’t have enough food to help all the people who need help and a local church, the parent church has a private in-church gym and coffee shop, has decided to build a $14,000,000 addition.  Still, even a portion of $14 million would buy a lot of food. 

    I don’t like Obama either, but let’s take a look at the fact that the republicans have pretty much put their policies in effect since Reagan took office.  I include Obama in that because he has taken so many republican policies and passed them as his own.  Anyway, after 30 years you finally have to figure out the trickle down theory was either a failure or a lie and even now, the republicans are unable to come up with anything other than pushing for another round of tax cuts for the wealthy and screams that government, which they have cut to the point where it really can’t function efficiently or as intended, must be reduced again.  You might want to consider third world countries don’t have much government or protections either.

  • Dreamer

    More for less; technological revolution; greed; globalization are all factors that have our world in the mess it is.  Unless there is some give by the large companies, it won’t get better.  Social unrest will continue to spread around the globe.  Raising taxes isn’t the solution.  It’s a short term smoke screen.  If we had people working and earning a decent wage instead of working with low salaries and remaining at the poverty level, we would have enough taxes.  If our government was run by responsible people who believed in their country and had enough sense to look to the future and not just under their noses; if they would practice fiscal responsibilty, I don’t think we’d be in as bad shape as we are.  For the same reason America became a superpower, Great Britian, Germany, Greece, the Roman Empire, so does the rest of the world want the same.  East Asia willing  to destroy their environment to bring in western companies because east Asia wants the same wealth and power they saw in the west.  Competition forced the technological revolution.  In the beginning it was a good thing, then the businessmen who had vision, pushed to improve life by doing more with less people.  For a while it looked good, everyone wanted to reap the rewards of new technology.  It made our lives easier, provided us more money and time to play, the desire to get rich, it was wonderful, we all thought.  Then the “have to be better than the Jones’ family” mentality grew.  To be better than your neighbor required more money.  If you were the owner of a small company, you found you could sell it for a lot of money.  It would give you instant wealth and gratification.  You could look for another business adventure or retire and play, explore the world. The guy who purchased your company, took your customer base, took your ideas, improved on your technology, displaced your employees, and made his business grow.  Soon the competition was gone, the little guy sold out, their employees’ were displaced, the employees’ lives changed.  In the beginning the displaced learned new careers, then those careers were gone, until finally, it’s the present.  The corporations are mega entities.  Their CEO’s, polititians in their own right.  The CEOs set themselves to be paid mega salaries, paid lobbiests too shmooze politicians here and abroad.  It became lucrative to go offshore.  Use the poor in sweatshops, the same working conditions that created unions in America.  The power of the Unions resulted in the mega companies and the desire to go where there were no environmental restrictions, taxes; it created huge sums for the CEOs and their board of directors.  The solution to our problem is simple, but requires a great deal of sacrifice, and I don’t think human nature will make it easy.  We need to change our world to mimic the concept of the series “Star Trek”.  Not in space, but on earth, before we destroy it.  The changes will have to be global.  The nations continue to keep their own identities, after all it’s who we are.  Global environmental restrictions so we aren’t polluting the globe.  Pollution in east Asia is just as bad as if in USA.  Predominent winds travel east to west.  Have national companies in multiple countries.  Not mega factories, but mid-sized and multiple ones so products can be produced in various global regions.  Trade between nations would be for natural resources and cultural resources.  Recycling centers to recycle certain products that are designed to only last 5-10 years.  Recycled materials would be reused.  This would require new technology to come up with ways to create products from old, keep the environment clean,fair wages for all, education across the globe, History a required subject stressing how not to make the mistakes of the past.  Is it possible for a dream to come true, that we could live in peace, have a purpose with a good paying job, the ability to learn.  There would still be government, there would still need to be certain social programs, not all people will be healthy and able to work, they will require some assistance.  All this would cut a little into the corporate empires.  The biggest blow to civilization would be a world with a little more equalization of power.  Would we even need a super power?  Can this work?  Only if all are willing to swallow a little of their ego and give up a little power.   The beginning of these problems began with the invention of the printing press, the cotton gin, robotics, computers, all the things that gave us a better life, but slowly began taking away our abilities to have dreams.  Trains had cabooses, then technology came up with a sensor to do the job of a human.  We’re getting to the point that there isn’t much more we can streamline without impacting even the wealthy CEO.  Too many CEOs are wrapped up with making more with less people.  Even the stock holders aren’t reaping the rewards created by downsizing. Only the CEO sees the increase.  Their money is being used to make the wealth few wealthier.  Unless we change our culture and realize we all have global responsibilities, we won’t have to worry about electing a president in the next decade.  we’ll end up with a global war and it will probably be far worse than WWII because of the technology, brilliance, and greed.

  • Dreamer

    You forgot to mention Congress.  I think we should eliminate the democratic and republican parties.  we’d be better off.  They don’t work for the people.  These are mainly attorneys who found it easier to run for office for the benefits, not support the people.  Our citizens need to get out and vote them all out.  They cut funds to the states, cut education funding, are trying to cut social security and medicare which is the money of the employed.  Did they reduce their salaries, eliminate their pension fund and put themselves on social security?  It’s not just Obama it’s the system the citizens allow to exist by not caring to vote.  Yes it’s frustrating, but what would our reprensentatives, local, state, and federal be like if all the citizens voted and if you didn’t do the job vote them out.  Instead the citizen disagrees with the politician, the citizen stays home, why vote is the way they think.  Then every four years, a few additonal people come out for the presidential election.  The president doesn’t make the laws, doesn’t even come up with many of the laws, it’s the representatives, the ones that no one pay attention to.  So where is the root of the problem, Obama, or the people?

  • BVA

    I’m not sure this is a ‘reply’ as much as a comment on how the poll question was worded.  I voted for government, because I feel right now, in the short run, it’s the only entity with the ability (if Congress would go along with it) and the funds (if Congress voted such) to restart the economy, and ‘stimulate’ it in the actual sense of “every paycheck, whether from a govt. job or in the private sector’ generates more jobs, i.e., a dollar spent in a local store, gas station, etc. etc. doesn’t matter whether it comes from a person getting paid by a check from the Govt. or by a private firm, which generates demand and thus creates more jobs.  In the longer run, there are many things that need to be done, to include ‘real’ fair trade agreements and improved educational opportunities for EVERYONE in the US

  • Rick

    Below is the evidence that the very wealthy should receive tax breaks to create new jobs:

    1.  Patek Philippe has a 3-year waiting period for a $300,000 wristwatch.

    2.  Last year, luxury brands such as Tiffany & Coach had record sales.

    3.  Newt Gingrich, a socially conscious & responsible person, had a $600,000 debt with Tiffany.

    4.  All the rich people I know wisely invest their money in more trips abroad, more stays in luxury hotels, more cars & boats, & a few extra homes around the world.

    This is clear evidence that tax breaks are necessary for our most privileged citizens.

    There is one other thing that should be done – bring back the WPA (Works Progress Administration).  During the depths of the Great Depression, the WPA provided work to hundreds of thousands of people.  Streets, bridges, overpasses (& dams) were constructed in urban & rural settings.  Huge granite & marble buildings were constructed with magnificent murals by great painters.  Legendary photographers crisscrossed the country, snapping shots that are now iconic classics.  The CCC (Civilian Conservation Corp) employed 300,000 young men who built up our national parks with roads & cabins, & planted trees.  These young men sent money home to their starving families, learned to read (which helped win WWII), & received vocational training in other fields.  In addition, wherever there was a CCC camp, the surrounding communities also benefitted financially by supplying the camps with food & other necessities.  The WPA & the CCC were successful because the government paid the workers, not the banks.

  • moderate

    I didn’t read past the second line cause you are taking too long to make whatever point you want me to get.

  • REDierdorf

    Fortune 500 companies have the ability to expand markets in a global economy.  Expanding markets create jobs.  Individuals who think government can solve economic problems are listening too much to the press rather than paying attention to reality.

  • Mid-century

    There must be a comprehensive program worked out between both government and business. We can no longer afford to toss people away. All levels of government lose revenue. These unemployed workers don’t spend as much money, which hurts businesses. Lastly, many end up collecting welfare, medicaid, and food stamps. High unemployment is just a negative for all parts of our economy and society.
    The work-share idea shown in your program is an excellent way to keep people working, allow them to keep benefits, and remain as taxpayers.

  • Peggy

    The best answer is, government WITH COOPERATION of businesses can turn the economy around.
     Where are the businesses that feel some loyalty to the American people and public interest, and are willing to balance their desire to maximize profits with a sense of responsibility to the country that has enabled them to flourish? If businesses large and small felt a responsibility to our land and our people, willing to invest in the well-being of their workers & families, we’d see quite a different picture.

    And yes, proper regulation and incentives on the part of government is indispensable, as only the government has the absolute duty to promote the general welfare if our people.

    If businesses cooperated with government to promote a good society, the distribution of wealth would become more balanced, and the living standard of middle and lower income families would improve greatly. At the same time, while the wealthiest 10% might have a little less wealth, how much would their lives really change if they had a million or two less net worth? After a cake has an inch of frosting, a foot more of frosting doesn’t really make it taste better.

    Businesses need a new ethic that recognizes responsibility toward our country and people, and acknowledges the desirability of government oversight & regulation for the greater good of the nation.

  • Stevenw Smith

    Small business is best bet. Government cannot other than setting a climate. Big business is reducing staff and sending jobs overseas with support of the US Cmamber of Commerce.

  • Gen Chau

    The best people capable of solving the jobs crisis would be SOCIAL PHILOSOPHERS/ENTREPRENEURS. Someone who understands the meaning of “jobs” in a human society.

    We as a society have lost the meaning of what a society is, what its purposes are. We do not understand what labor availability means. Imagine a society that is completely robot automated, there would be no labor available for humans to work. We are now living in a time where labor availability has gone down, due to the advent of technology. Simply put, the need for human labor has decreased in our society. We should be happy that as a society we have less labor requirements, and have more leisurely time to do other more intellectual work. But this society is living a contradiction, where the less labor requirement we have, the less happy we are.

    The problem is not whether we can create more jobs. The problem is in the root of our society, the foundation of our society. The problem is in the distribution of housing, food, etc.

  • Tom Walker

    None of the above. The solution isn’t “creating jobs.” The solution is ensuring that any one who wants a job can get one. The problem is producing enough goods and services to maintain a comfortable standard of living for all, providing access to those goods are services to all and making sure that it’s all environmentally sustainable.

    Once you move beyond “we have to create jobs so people can earn a living and we have to have economic growth to create jobs” there are many combinations of ways to achieving provisioning and plenitude. It may involve some job creation, some redistribution of work and shorter work time, some kind of basic income scheme as well as efforts at self-provisioning and resource sharing through community gardens, co-housing, car co-ops, tool sharing etc.

    The old model isn’t working. It has been in slow collapse for thirty years. Time to transition to a new way of life.

  • irene

    Clear evidence? Where exactly 1-3  is the link between wealth and creation of jobs? or is the retail jobs at Tiffany and Coach?

  • Barbara Flatlander

    Correct.  Suggest Michael Bloomberg’s approach.  Consortium of Government and large corporations such as Siemens AG has done, focusing State-by-State on training and job placement.  Hooking onto the commitment will be new small businesses that can be underwritten by investors in the consortium and of course, the banking sector making loans 
    with the good faith that this is a seriously large and well-organized project.  It takes leadership and has to have short-term goals based on long-term projections which are realistic. This may also mean bringing back American corporations from countries such as Canada.  We have not only shipped patents and manufacturing to China — we have also allowed industries to go to our neighbors.  Lots of good people and determination means lots of good results. 

  • John Ross

    The basic reason there are so many unemployed is there are so many millions of people looking for jobs they compete with each other by accepting low wages. So U.S. corporations export American factories to Mexico, China, the Phillipines and wherever there are millions of desperate workers. There are two solutions to this dilemma: 

    1. Peacefully reduce the human population with family planning education in which each and every woman is guaranteed the legally protected right to decide if and when to birth her child. Very few women want a large family; more want none at all; but the vast majority want no more than 1, 2 or 3. That way labor will become scarce and wages will rise.

    2. Safely recycle 100% of all human-generated waste products, all the garbage, sludge, junk, chemical waste, smoke and fumes. That will put all the unemployed back to work while they train for better jobs, and it will save the environment. 

  • Brucie38

    Small businesses are not going to hire without customers.  There are not going to be customers unless there are jobs.  There won’t be jobs unless there are customers. You can see where I am going.  Without a “priming” to the pump from the government we are going to go nowhere.

  • Durante_d

    HIstory and economics proves that private industry is in it for private industry-only.  Government regulation is required in projects for the good of the many, for the good of the country, for the good of workers.  Private industry has sold interests other than themselves down the river, and across the ocean, for profit.  Government is not profit driven, and should not be so.  Government in a democracy (NOT an oligarchy) represents the people, the general good.  We must be vigilant to keep it so, through voter participation, voter education, and oversight.  In the same vein, candidates for office should be given the exact same media time, free of charge, with the media given tax breaks to do so.  This, in an attempt to minimize the influence of bit money in politics..

  • Guest

    The poll is missing the choice I want to choose: Consumers. Consumer demand drives job creation. If we buy products made overseas, then that is where jobs will be created. If we buy products made in the U.S., then jobs will be sustained and created here to meet the demand.