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Sudhir Venkatesh on the New Meaning of Recovery

Editor’s note: On tonight’s NewsHour, Paul visits a New York City job fair to get a sense of how many Americans who have been out of work for extended periods of time are coping with their job searches. There’s been a lot of talk in the media about how the economy is turning a corner — that a recovery is on its way, possibly even here already. But, as Paul discovered speaking to job seekers, many unemployed aren’t seeing promising prospects on the horizon.

For the piece, Paul sat down with noted sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh, a frequent contributor to the NYT’s Freaknomics blog and author of Gang Leader for a Day: A Rogue Sociologist Takes to the Streets, to discuss why this crisis has created the need for new, less traditional metrics to evaluate economic recovery.

According to Venkatesh, the days of a company giving someone a job for 10 years may be over; many American companies don’t know where they themselves will be in six months to a year. Instead, as companies hire more people for shorter periods of time, on a contract or freelance basis, we’ll need better ways to evaluate how this type of employment fits within our models of economic recovery.

And check back here later this week, when we’ll have a video update on Phil Mereday, one of the job seekers Paul interviews. Mereday, a college graduate and military veteran, had been out of work for about a year when he spoke to Paul, but he’s since landed a job and will weigh in on what it has been like transitioning back into the workforce.

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