Where have all the jobs gone?

Labor Day was created to honor the achievements of American workers. That might seem like a cruel joke to the 14 million Americans looking for work right now. So, where did the jobs go? Our Rebecca Jarvis goes looking for answers in our "Sunday Morning" Cover Story:

Here's a rare bit of good news on this Labor Day weekend: A new assembly line, filled with workers, coming alive at a U.S. automaker.

At the General Motors Orion plant just north of Detroit, they're cranking out a new sub-compact: the Chevy Sonic.

"It's beautiful, and the plant's ready to roll," said Gerald Johnson, GM's manufacturing manager.

"Who is going to buy these products?" asked Jarvis.

"Everybody!" said Johnson.

The Sonic will be the only sub-compact built in America. But making it here instead of Mexico or Asia, where wages are much lower, required driving some hard bargains with the UAW. New hires start at about $16 an hour, half the usual salary.

"You've got to be competitive and you've got to be cost-conscious," said Johnson.

That means employing lots of robots, 25 percent fewer workers, and using only half the space of previous assembly lines.

That's what it takes to do business these days: This is not your father's Oldsmobile plant.

"They are trained on multiple jobs," Johnson said. "They do rotation every day, so that they continue to maintain their skills in multiple jobs."

It's a gamble that GM hopes will continue its recovery from bankruptcy.

"Once you've been through winter, you have a great appreciation for spring and summer," Johnson said.

"And that's where you are right now, in spring and summer?" Jarvis asked.

"I think we're in spring," he replied.

But across the country, this summer has felt more like an economic ice storm. From the stock market, to that unending debt debate, to the downgrade of the nation's credit rating.

"We're worried a lot about deficits and debt. We should be worried. That's a significant, long-term problem," said Harry Holzer, an economics professor at Georgetown University in Washington.

"But we have a major short-term problem with unemployment at this level, and it's going to scar people, people who are out of work years and years."

You've heard the numbers. The unemployment rate has been stuck near the current 9.1 percent for more than two years now. 14 million of us are out of work.

Then on Friday, the Labor Department reported that, for the first time since 1945, the net change in the number of new jobs created in August was exactly ... zero.

You've also probably heard that this comes at a time of record corporate profits.

American companies have learned to do more and more with less and less.

"Everyone points to Wall Street and they say, 'Corporate America, look at it, it's got $2 trillion, why is it not spending that money on hiring?'" Jarvis asked.

"It seems to be that they can either spend the money elsewhere, and get the hiring done, which might mean going overseas, or they just prefer to do other things with the money," said Holzer. "Maybe they're more comfortable sitting on it, or investing it somewhere in the markets.

"You know, if we can convince them that there's money to be made by hiring workers, I'm sure they will be happy to do so!" Holzer laughed. "But they have to be convinced of that first."

So what about the other half of the story - small businesses? The jobs picture doesn't look good there, either.

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