Where have all the jobs gone?
"Only four percent now of the owners out there think it's a good time to expand their business, and 70 percent say, 'No way,'" said Bill Dunkelberg, chief economist with the National Federation of Independent Business. "And the rest just don't even bother to answer the question."
Dunkelberg points to two issues: Consumers, whose confidence has plunged to the lowest level in two years, aren't spending enough to get businesses hiring; and he faults policy squabbles in Washington.
"How about some certainty about what my future looks like? What will my tax rates be? Will 'Obamacare' be found to be unconstitutional? Or if not, what is the government going to ask me to provide as a minimum package for my workers?" said Dunkelberg.
"Isn't there always, though, in a business going to be uncertainty?" asked Jarvis. "I mean, if you start a business today, you don't know who's going to be in power, who's going to be elected in two years. They could change the entire dynamic. Is there something that is exacerbating that uncertainty at this point?"
"Well, I think having everything up in the air right now seems to be making it worse," said Dunkelberg. "There are too many moving parts."
Too many moving parts ... and too few areas of job growth, particularly for workers unprepared for a leaner, meaner economy.
The number of manufacturing jobs has fallen by almost half in the last 30 years.
So, where have all the good jobs gone?
"Well, where they haven't gone, or where they are not longer, is in manufacturing, especially for very unskilled workers," said Holzer. "There are good jobs in other sectors. Certainly in healthcare and in construction, in financial services, and many other places.
"The bottom line is, there are good jobs out there in a lot of different sectors, but workers need usually a higher level of skill to get those good jobs than they did in the past."
Tiffany Serrano decided she needed to go back to class, after leaving the military and finding her training didn't translate into the civilian workforce. She has been out of work for a year.
"The job fields, organizations that I want to go into - Google, or anything with Veterans' Affairs, or even NASA if I aim high - you have to be very well-skilled and have a lot of experience," Serrano said.
"In this global economy, for our economy to remain vibrant, we need to invest in our labor force, and that requires - for us - a commitment by government, by corporations and foundations to invest in programs like these," said Plinio Ayala, the president and CEO of Per Scholas (which means "for schools" in Latin). A non-profit, most of its funding comes from corporations and foundations - one fifth from government.
Ayala says that four out of five graduates from his program get a full-time job.
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