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Need to Know, October 7, 2011: Help wanted

This week's host, Scott Simon. Photo: Will O’Leary

Scott Simon hosts our first edition of “Help Wanted,” a new series dedicated to America’s ongoing jobs crisis. This week, we visit Ohio’s Cuyahoga County to see how even people who have managed to find work are struggling with stagnant pay and decreasing benefits.

Scott Simon also travels to inner-city Baltimore with David Simon, author and creator of the HBO series “The Wire,” to talk to young men on “the corner” who are among America’s chronically unemployed.

Also, be sure to take our poll: What is to blame for high unemployment?

Check your local listings for details.

Watch the individual segments:

Help wanted: The uncounted millions

Correspondent John Larson travels to Cuyahoga County in northern Ohio for an in-depth look at America’s job crisis. Even some of those with work there are feeling extraordinarily insecure, struggling to pay their bills, as their pay stagnates, and their hours and benefits decline.

On ‘the corner’ with David Simon

Need to Know anchor Scott Simon goes with author David Simon to Baltimore’s inner city to talk to young men with little or no work, who often simply hang out on the street. Though they are rarely counted and rarely talked about, they are among America’s chronically unemployed.

Watch more full episodes of Need to Know.



  • stanleyX

     A large number of possible people to work in factories here in u.s. at any wage; even prison wages, if we could get factoies to make shirts, plastic cans, or anything.  Just need a factory to open & offer jobs; but ceo couldn’t make $1million plus airplane

  • AdamSmith

    I keep laying down this gauntlet to no avail: 41 of 46 Chinese Fortune 500 companies are STATE owned enterprises (CNN). Unlike the U.S, China has an INDUSTRIAL POLICY. There is no talk of “Government Motors” in China, though Shuanghuan, Geely, F.A.W, etc, etc, etc clearly are. Like moths to flame, Honda, BMW, GM, etc, freely transfer technology and manufacturing to this fascist state, otherwise they can’t do business there. Why? Because  the unelected WTO and global capital PREFERS fascism. China has spent $41 billion on solar technology recently; .The U.S? $2.5 billion (OK- the source is Van Jones from “Real Time”). Some ignorant or confused person will reply to this by citing Chinese divestiture of S.O.E.s. This is wrong. They are consolidating investment into wealth PRODUCING industries; steel,  energy, rare earth minerals, etc.  You free traitors out there, please, please , come out to play!

  • AdamSmith

    BTW, here’s more of the “invisible hand”  quote from Adam Smith’s “Wealth of Nations”:
     ”As every individual, therefore, endeavours as much as he can both to
    employ his capital in the support of DOMESTICK industry, and so to
    direct that industry that its produce may be of the greatest value;
    every individual necessarily labours to render the annual revenue of the
    society as great as he can. He generally, indeed, neither intends to promote the public interest, nor knows how much he is promoting it.
    By preferring the support of DOMESTIEK to that of foreign industry, he
    intends only his own security; and by directing that industry in such a
    manner as its produce may be of the greatest value, he intends only his own gain, and he is in this, as in many other eases, led by an INVISIBLE HAND to promote an end which was no part of his intention.”

    Funny that “DOMESTIEK” part is usually omitted.

  • Matt Sullivan

    Your point?

  • AdamSmith

    Dang! Hoped you were a free traitor.

     Anyway, we just need pre Reagan top marginal tax rates (74 to 91 %, effectively 48%). Problem solved!

    OK. Seriously, you defenders of Thomas Friedmann, Mit Romney;  any free traitor. Let’s go!

  • AdamSmith

    Are you serious?

  • Ejdodson

    What frustrates me greatly is that the solutions to our boom-to-bust economy and to generational poverty have been understood for well over a century. The problem is that the solutions have been strenuously opposed by those interests who are the beneficiaries of entrenched privileges under our systems of property law and taxation. Very seldom has the media looked below symtoms to identify and bring to light the fundamental causes. All one has to do is examine the history of ownership of land and natural resources in this country. Despite homeownership statistics, the reality is that fewer than 5% of our population controls around 95% of the value of all land in the United States.

  • AdamSmith

    Although the GM bailout should have required GM to first repatriate foreign earnings AND except taxation, the Obama bailout has WORKED for Michigan and the U.S.  We need to produce wealth IN THE UNITED STATES.  Power is concentrated in too few hands. Progressive taxation WORKS. Universal health care LOWERS costs for manufacturers. My basic point is:  You Republicans, SHUT UP!

  • AdamSmith

    Exactly! Hey, where’s Matt? Jeez, give these “free market” types the truth and they go all sullen on yuh.

  • AdamSmith

    I’m a Parkinson’s patient, Matt. (Oooooooh….he smells blood, now)

  • Jean Nepal

    Adam Smith has a point. I marched in Seattle 10 years ago against the WTO – to no avail it seems. Here we are now – victims of globalization. Current economists are irrational and business interests put profits before patriotism. And we allowed Congress (10 years ago) to give China favored nation status – if we thought economic progress would benefit human rights, we are wrong about this in this imperialistic, communist country.

    A former San Francisco port captain realized how wrong it was where he OKed a ship of Toyotas leaving S.F. Bay for Singapore on the same day he OKed a ship bringing Toyotas from Japan to S.F. We need to make energy and resource efficiency the primary bottomline, the financial medium is distorted.

  • AdamSmith

    Exactly! It’s now usually CHEAPER to disgard and have a new widget sent via oil fueled tanker half way around the World than REUSE or RECYCLE. Absolute insanity.

  • Stephen Wilson

    My father Clyde Wilson that you saw was interviewed for this show. 
    Everything he said was true.  I remember talking to him when he lost his job.  I have never heard my father feel so sad and let down before.  It broke my heart.  He’s always a happy and an upbeat person with a lot of passion.  Both him and I lost our jobs and became
    unemployed at the same time.  I live in Florida (Tampabay area) which is
    high unemployment as well.  I finally found a job making $7 dollars less then I was making on my last job almost 2 years later.  It’s a job and I had to take it.  It’s true, you do feel worthless when losing a job and cannot find another one at all.

  • AdamSmith

    Stephen, I make as much now as before I was laid off in in 2003. and consider myself lucky! But, I still buy American whenever possible i.e, shoes, car parts, clothes, used cars, even my fish (American catfish and clams ONLY) and OJ  (Florida’s Natural) You can often find American made stuff online with free shipping for cheaper than the Chinese outlet stores (Walmart, etc) Instead of a Chinese toy, I take my kids out to a local restaurant or event or go to Goodwill. I realize my actions don’t count for much, but it’s satisfying putting things down in front of sales people when I see the inevitable “Made in China” sticker. It’s my way of telling them, “You’ve just lost a sale”

     The WTO is at war with life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, so we’ve got to stick together to purge our country of free traitors. If we can’t, then…

    ….. we will allllll go down togetherrrrr, yes we will allllll go downnnn together …

    P.S. The best things in life are free, Stephen, and Florida is still a beautiful state to be broke in.

  • Aaaaaa

    21:30 Dumbass, move. What you can’t think of a better way to get some money than by selling drugs or hurting someone to get it. Ask me for a dollar and I’ll give it to you, even if I have two dollars. But don’t go hurting someone. Change the way your thinking. Your angry and stupid, and you should be locked up.

  • Imlmurry

    I certainly believe that changing your thinking can change your life, but the rest of you post was negative and unnessary because the truth is changing a belief is difficult even when you know it needs to be changed.

  • Imlmurry

    Many of you I feel are very young. This inner city story is the story of blacks in America since the beginning. Perhaps you may be too young to remember the saying, “last hired first fired.” I don’t believe the inner has ever been counted for anything since whites moved to the suburbs.
      As far as the rest of the report goes, the conservative have been at war with the rest of the nation since Roosevelt. I have no proof, but I believe there is a faction in this country to wants to return us to the days before World War II when the way to middle class was to be a mechant class, above them were the uber rich and the rest of the country were servants to those classes. It is tanamount to putting the toothpaste back into the tube.

  • Ava_martin

    Oh, I do get it!!!  I’m a 62 year old woman, a Ft. Lauderdale area resident, a former professional–now, who lost her “REAL” job in 2004. It was a 186 year old international corporation where I restructured myself and thousands of others out of the company, uh not all by myself, just part of the team (hahahahaha, but not funny).  So, I’ve suffered this humiliation for over 7 years, in addition to coping with something new, and very real–bullying in the workplace, much of which has been ongoing verbal abuse, threats and intimidation–at low-wage and part-time jobs that weren’t even paying the bills!!!  Naturally, if you can’t cope with that you are terminated or just have to walk away!  Plus, I’ve had to temp at Fortune 500s who keep off-shoring their jobs!  Imagine how I feel watching that go down!  This week I meet a woman at an agency madder than “H” because, a company where I’d been ‘covering’ a couple of years ago now, finally let her go after 22 years of service.  All I could say, “Well, good luck on your job hunt!”  At least she made it through quite a few of those transitions–a nice way they put it!  Yeah, right! 
    And now, on top of all else, have accrued a huge credit card debt trying to make ends meet, something I never had.  Not only that, I had paid off my condo, and because of this situation lost 3/4 of my cash equity!  Plus, this year I had to file for early retirement and lost $500 a month having to do so early.  What this means?  Am I now on the doll? –another humiliating accusation!  Hardly as I paid for it and earned it!  Sick part of it is, it is just getting me by–can’t afford the ever increasing cost of food, most all necessary consumables, and fuel.  It is now a triple-play, a big whammy for older folks like myself, period. 
    So, welcome to Sunny South Florida!  Enjoy your trip.

  • barb

    love Scot Simon

  • James Vincent Hodgson

    The current jobs crisis clearly started with the Bush adminsitration and the banking fiasco of mortgaged backed debt securities grossly overrated and over sold, and to lax credit globally.
    Also the added spice was those items were international along with Property bubbles, that allowed banks to THINK they could risk higher credit card debt from us plebs and we ( banks are protected and) are  earning 25-30 % interest anyway!!
    These issues were largest in the US but also internationally QED it starts with Bush but the current crisis is also due to poor global economy and risk averse banks and corporates due to bad debts!!
    My solution is simple the rich are crying foul because some of thier investments are worthless ( greek debt)
    But over many years they made huge profits and high interest returns but as investors ( how many times are we told the past is no guide to the future and stocks and shares etc my rise or fall) they now dont want to pay the price but be rescued.
    I say if you really believe a government will not pay its debt ( Greece is probably the only one) then write it off by 60 % banks and all investors and let the EU hold the rest at a low interest rate that costs about 160bn to the ECB fund and the baalnce of 280bn can be used to support bank balance sheets in the EU or buy up the most expensive interest cost debt of Spain and Italy do a US style switch. then let Austerity do its job quicker.
    Apply the same to the US and force the banks to reduce costs and bonuses to hit profit targets and get back to proper capital ratios and having to let out i.e lend the trillions they are holding and not investing in business etc to hit profit targets.
    Do that with some Tax system tweeking and we will see the job market recover first for professionals and then service industries and then other areas like infrastructure investment, education , research and alternative energy green projects via government spending.
    Politicians and bloggers who say “get off your butt and go work”… my guess is 95% of them have never been out of a job… the reply is: it’s the economy stupid, there aren’t any jobs to be had!! and 25m of us say so.

  • Carol Schultz

    Glad to see this discussed.  For years, whenever I hear the unemployment rate I have to wonder what it truly is.  It never accounts for people who’ve stopped looking, fallen off the unemployment roles, folks like me who are ineligible for it.  I suspect there are many like me.  I ran a successful search practice for 16 yrs until 4/08 when I decided to take my knowledge and build a new paradigm in my area.  I suspect there are many like me out there struggling to get something new off the ground with no financial support…

  • Mukema

    No need to blame China for lack of an industrial policy- or anything else for that matter. When we had it good, we never as much as lifted a finger against the suffering of others that we clearly caused. Much of the carnage- economic, military, or otherwise- around the globe is our responsibility. As they say, the chickens have come home to roost. The problem is that we fail to recognize our  interconnectedness- and see much of the world as our playground. Aren’t we exceptional? God’s own kingdom on planet earth? Listen to the Republicans talking about how we ought to subordinate everybody else to our commands! Unfortunately the Other World’s demise will be our demise, and as one pundit put it, ‘if we don’t end war, war will end us’

  • AdamSmith


    1)”American taxpayers have been particularly generous to Uganda, paying
    for 88 percent of its drugs; Ugandans know it.”   The New York Times

     May 9, 2010

    2)Then there’s the American effort in the elimination of Polio; pretty substantial, since the vaccine was invented here.

    3) There’s this: “The American government donates a substantial amount of money for the
    AIDS epidemic. In 2009 the United States was the largest donor in the
    world, accounting for more than half of disbursements by
    governments. This was followed by the
    United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, France, and Denmark.

    4) The United Nations has to count for SOMETHING. That was started and is based in the U.S.


     According to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
    Development, the countries giving the highest amounts of money (in
    absolute terms) are as follows:[1]
     United States – $28.67 billion France – $12.43 billion Germany – $11.98 billion United Kingdom – $11.50 billion Japan – $9.48 billion Spain – $6.57 billion Netherlands – $6.43 billion Sweden – $4.55 billion Norway – $4.09 billion Canada – $4.01 billion Italy – $3.31 billion Denmark – $2.81 billion Australia – $2.76 billion Belgium – $2.60 billion Switzerland – $2.31 billion Finland – $1.29 billion Austria – $1.15 billion Ireland – $1.00 billion South Korea – $0.82 billion Greece – $0.61 billion Portugal – $0.51 billion Luxembourg – $0.40 billion New Zealand – $0.31 billion

    There’s 5 fingers, there are many, many more.

    But,our largest gift to the world is INSANELY  generous access to our
    consumer dollars for MANUFACTURED goods. We haven’t had a trade surplus
    since 1975!

    So,when we repatriate our 500,000 military personnel around the
    world, will they then work at McDonalds? They certainly can’t get a job in manufacturing!

    Our LAST bastion, really, for THE MOST IMPORTANT, highest paying, labor intensive manufacturing in the U.S. is MILITARY manufacturing! And this is happening all over the world where CONSUMER manufacturing is being lost. (See U.K., France, South Africa, Germany, et al)

    If you think high trade imbalances with a non democratic, free speech suppressing government like China beget world peace, I STRONGLY disagree.

  • Samuel Johnson

    I watched the episode that aired with Kate Zernike from the Tea Party.  She is a liar.  The Tea Party is so cunning that I heard from a very credible source that they hired some blacks to be on there side, so that it wouldn’t look as if they were racist against Barack Obama.  They used reverse tactics that businesses used during the labor movements in the late 19th and early 20th century when they hired scabs.   They even paid people to say things on television and in other forms of media that would not have otherwise have been said.   The whole movement is racist based.  It is not a movement started out of the discontent with what is going on in Washington (politics) or the economy.  The economy and politics among other ideals are what they use as a base in arguments to say that Barack Obama should be ousted.  They use the problems that are going on at present, as a proof in argument that Mr. Obama should not be President, when much of their proof, the President has no control over.   The movement’s main focus is to get rid of Barack Obama because he is the first black President.  
    The truth of the matter is that President Obama has been trying to help with the issues facing America but the Tea Party along with many other factions in society try and block every effort that he makes.  When he fails because of their deceitful works and practices, they hide their hand and say “see I told you so, he does not need to be president because he doesn’t know what he is doing”.   They use such tactics and many more.  The tea party is based on lies and racism.   Be wise and see what they are doing.  Do not be duped by their tactics or games. 
    The Tea Party has reached way up into Washington. They employ many to help with the effort of making sure that Barack Obama is a one term President.  They scare politicians by telling them that they will vote them out of office if they don’t do what they say.  They use the farce or disguise that they represent main stream America, but in actuality they are not that big. 
    The present movement against Wall street has the potential of becoming very large and wide spread.  The majority of Americans are not rich while the mega rich are reaping the rewards of hard work of the common man.  They do not pay their fair share of taxes because of loop holes in the tax law.   The leaders of big business raise prices in almost every industry because of greed.  Take home pay is falling for the common man due to the rise in prices and many other ideals such as the reduction of pay.  People are earning less because they have less to live off of.  Many people are living pay check to pay check while the rich grow richer from the poor peoples efforts.  These are not mere clichés but the truth.  These ideals are not just happening to the uneducated but to the educated alike. 
    I am an educated man with a MBA from the University of Texas in Austin.  I make $14.67 an hour on my job at present.  It took me a year to find this job.  It is not just about job creation that Washington needs to focus on, it should be about the quality of jobs being offered and created out there.  It took me a year to find my present job.  The job market is bad. Pay is important to me and many others.  I did not struggle through school for years to make $14.67 an hour.  I graduated at the top of my class from a major university and I can only find a part time job making $14.67 an hour, this is crazy.   I am not a new graduate, I am 45 years old.  I graduated from college years ago.   Things need to change.  I got laid off of my last job because they were downsizing. 
    I mentioned my personal situation in order to state that the present movement against Wall Street will have more emphasizes than the tea parties movement, because it is based out of need.  The leaders of the Occupy Movement need to be as cunning as those who lead the Tea party.  Think like the Tea party leaders, as if you are at war.  In warfare, the art and science of fighting battles. It is concerned with the approach to combat, placement of troops, use made of weapons, vehicles, ships, or aircraft, and execution of movements for attack or defense. In general, tactics deal with the problems encountered in actual fighting. Tactical thinking attempts to coordinate personnel with the existing weapons technology and apply both to the terrain and enemy forces in a way that uses the fighting force to their best advantage.  The leaders of this new movement need to be wise and be tactical about their approach to the issues that effect the movement. 
    They need to think also about their approach on how to gain the publics fair opinion of the organization.  It want be hard because there are many in the same boat as I, barley working or not working at all.

  • Jo

    This was an excellent documentary on real people trying to make it in today’s rough economy.  These people represent a handful of the millions of unemployed facing a bleak outlook.  Our country needs hope and we need it now!  I am glad people are fed up and starting to protest.  It has been a long time coming.  Fear has turned into anger.

  • Anonymous

    Here’s how to create REAL wealth and jobs:

    “Beijing’s decision that Chinese companies must use only locally
    produced materials has angered Dutch exporting companies, represented by
    the EVO organisation.
    Its spokesman Godfried Smit says China is violating international rules
    set by the World Trade Organisation (WTO):

    “The rules for international trade are clearly spelt out in the WTO
    hand book. These practices clearly don’t meet the standards set by the

    Mr Smit says this is the reason why the Chinese government is not
    openly forcing companies to move to China. However, local and regional
    authorities do press international manufacturers into relocating, EVO

    “But it’s difficult to detect, as most companies that have to deal
    with this kind of pressure rarely speak out. If they do, they fear their
    access to the Chinese market will be more difficult,” Mr Smit says.

    WE could do that.

  • Cproper

    China regularly violates WTO rules.  They are right.  WTO is a world economic government organ in which only large capitalist entities are members — no worker, no consumer, no environmentalist, no human rights participation, etc..  “Battle in Seattle” in 2000 pitted environmentalist “turtles” and labor Teamsters,etc. against WTO capitalist-only world government group, and ultimately, pro-democracy forces lost.  Progressive goal should not be equal enforcement of WTO rules against citizens of all countries; but instead a requirement for equal voice for all classes/interests/nations in all aspects of global government. 

    Recent news item (NY Times,this past week): China government now massively subsidizing development of advanced ocean water desalinization industry.  U.S. competitor is not fighting China on this — instead will relocate his business to China.  Message: for global companies, it makes no difference if China rises and U.S. declines, as long as profits are good.

    Democratic global government is a good long-term goal — but defending WTO corporate rule is not the way to get there.

    Carl Proper, New England Joint Board, UNITE HERE