Daily Video

March 9, 2009

Faces Behind the Unemployment Numbers

President Obama went to Elkhart, Indiana last month to sell his stimulus package against a backdrop of despair.

The town has dubious distinction of losing jobs at the highest rate in the country: unemployment has jumped to 18 percent from 4.7 percent last year.

Expectations and attitudes are rapidly shifting in this working-class community as people who thought their jobs were secure face a new reality with the demise of the company that employed many of them, Monaco recreational vehicles.

In this report, economics correspondent Paul Solman talks with some of the unemployed people in Elkhart and to economists to help explain the situation.

Quotes

“I got lucky and got a part-time job working with Lewis Bakeries, stocking bread. That’s a good thing. At least people still need to buy bread.” – Lisa Neufeldt

“People’s expectations are very, very important to the functioning of the economy. It could get worse just because people believe that it’s going to get worse.” – Lane David, University of Indiana Economist

“Government spending is a source of contention among economists. We want to use our resources in the most efficient manner, which means that we want to produce goods that the market desires. And if the market desires certain goods, why aren’t they being produced already?” – Lane David, University of Indiana Economist

” I’m slowly sinking from the middle class to the poor class. So it’s making me think a little bit different about people that don’t have that much. I mean, the hard-working American family that’s trying to make it and, through no fault of their own, they’re not making it.” – Ed Neufeldt

Warm Up Questions

1. If you lived in a town where most of the residents were employed by a factory in a business hit hard by the economic downturn, how would you feel?

2. What does the term “small town” mean? What might be the advantages and disadvantages of living in a small town?

Discussion Questions

1. Does this report feel familiar to you or does it feel like something happening to people far away? Why do you think that is?

2. What do you think of the economist’s point that “We want to use our resources in the most efficient manner, which means that we want to produce goods that the market desires. And if the market desires certain goods, why aren’t they being produced already?”

3. If the government is the only place that can spend money right now, what should it do to help places like Elkhart, Indiana?

4. What do you think is going to happen to this community?

Additional Resources

Transcript of this report

Paul Solman’s Business Desk

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