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March 23rd, 2010
10:27 AM ET

I actually respect the Democrats. How weird is that?

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, backed by fellow Democrats, speaks at a press conference after the successful passage of health care reform in the House.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, backed by fellow Democrats, speaks at a press conference after the successful passage of health care reform in the House.

David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute

Sunday was a strange day. It took me most of the day to figure out what it was I was feeling. Turns out it was respect. Respect for the Democrats. How weird is that?

I had pretty much written the 110th Congress off as being completely ineffectual. Weak. Useless. I was ashamed of them. After all, how can you have an unbeatable majority and still lose on all your key issues?

But this weekend I saw a Democratic party that Lyndon Johnson, that wonderfully nasty old wheeler-dealer, would have been proud of.

The Dems wanted to pass health care and by golly, they actually did.

Can you imagine? The Dems actually doing something? And doing something hard. Doing something that Presidents and political parties have tried to do for a hundred years. And our Congress did it? Those woosies? Shocking.

Now, before I sing their praises too much, I need to say a few things about this health care bill. First and foremost, based on my analysis in How To Save Jobs, I'm convinced this isn't the full solution we need. As long as health care is linked to employment, and as long as every company in America has health insurance as a component of Cost of Goods Sold (unlike most industrialized nations, and even our third-world competitors), the health care problem won't be solved.

And I'm also concerned about how long some of these provisions will take to kick in. In six months, some big benefits kick in. There will be no more lifetime limits on medical coverage. People who have expensive conditions can no longer be dropped from coverage. FULL POST


Filed under: David Gewirtz • Economy • Job Market • Opinion
March 19th, 2010
11:21 AM ET

Jobs and population: controlling population

Editor's Note: This article continues our series excerpted from AC360°'s contributor David Gewirtz's book, How To Save Jobs, which is available now. AC360° viewers can download it for free at HowToSaveJobs.org. To learn more about the book, follow David on Twitter @DavidGewirtz.

David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute

There’s no doubt that as we move through the next few decades, the planet simply won’t be able to support as many people as will be born. In America alone, we need to create 2 million more jobs every year, simply to keep up with the population.

The problem of supporting a growing population becomes doubly true of hugely populous countries like China and India, which are pursuing goals to move the bulk of their population into the middle-class. China and India alone will need to consume more than 50% more energy than actually exists in the entire world.

Like issues relating to climate, population is really a world-wide issue and somehow needs to be addressed across national boundaries.

There are a variety of approaches that can be taken. These include scientific advances in generating new sources of fuel and renewable energy so our growing population doesn’t run out of power.

But, without a doubt, the planet needs to produce less people. No one likes the idea of government-imposed population control, and yet this is what China has been attempting since the late 1970s, with less than positive results.

In 1979, China instituted the jìhuà shengyù zhèngcè, unofficially known as the one-child policy. The policy restricts the number of children couples can give birth to and raise. While China claims that the program, in its first 30 years, has prevented as many births as there are people in the United States, the program is not without its serious problems.

Chinese parents who ignore the one-child policy are subject to enormous fines and heavy-handed government prosecution. As you might imagine, the rate of abortion and infanticide is off-the-charts, in part because prospective parents are often faced with no other choice than to terminate the pregnancy.

Parents who do actually go through with giving birth are often required to “dispose” of the newly born baby, according to testimony by Gao Xiao Duan (a former Chinese population control administrator) to what was then the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations human rights subcommittee in 1998.

A disturbing culture of kidnapping and black-market selling has grown out of the one-child policy. Gender roles are still strong through much of Chinese culture and some families value having a boy far more than having a girl.

This has resulted in a reduction in female children and, as Nobel Prize–winning economist Amartya Sen described, more than 100 million women are “missing” from what would have been a normal population – through abortion, infanticide, or starvation as a result of poor nutrition.

Depending on how coldly you measure it, China’s one-child policy has either been a measured success or a horrible, gruesome failure. In a country overwhelmed by population, preventing hundreds of millions of births may well have helped China manage scarce resources with more effectiveness.

But, the cost in terms of simply life itself is hard to ignore. Children being kidnapped, never to be seen again by their parents, infants being put to death, families forced to starve in order to pay the fines required to keep a beloved child - all of these are chilling effects that no one wants to see in a civilized world.

Follow David on Twitter at @DavidGewirtz.

Editor’s note: David Gewirtz is Director of the U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute and Editor-in-Chief of the ZATZ magazines. He is a leading Presidential scholar specializing in White House email. He is a member of FBI InfraGard, the Cyberterrorism Advisor for the International Association for Counterterrorism & Security Professionals, a columnist for The Journal of Counterterrorism and Homeland Security, and has been a guest commentator for the Nieman Watchdog of the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University. He is a faculty member at the University of California, Berkeley extension, a recipient of the Sigma Xi Research Award in Engineering and was a candidate for the 2008 Pulitzer Prize in Letters.


Filed under: David Gewirtz • Economy • Job Market
March 11th, 2010
10:37 AM ET

New jobs bill is destined for failure

Samuel Sherraden
Special to CNN

Congress has stripped the jobs bill of the reinvestment in America's infrastructure that would put people back to work and make the country more prosperous in the long run.

Instead, the bill relies on tax credits that are too small and too temporary to make a dent in America's high unemployment.

The House of Representatives passed a relatively strong bill in December, which included $48 billion in infrastructure spending. Now the House and the Senate have adopted a bill that consists primarily of a payroll tax deduction for employers who make new hires and keep them on for a year. The original House jobs bill was $154 billion. The new bill is one-tenth the size.

Keep Reading...


Filed under: Job Market
March 9th, 2010
01:42 PM ET

Is Boeing's all-but-assured tanker bid as good for America as it seems?

David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute

You may not know it, but yesterday the earth shook in America's military-industrial complex. The largest procurement deal in Air Force history now seems a lock for Seattle-based Boeing.

This is a story of American lives and livelihood, where nothing is truly as it seems.

Let's first look at what's at stake. When American military planes fly long distances, they need to be refueled in the air. This extremely dangerous dance is part of what gives America its advantage in the skies, but many of the KC-135 tankers we use are 50-years-old.

For the past decade, the Air Force has been trying to buy itself some new tankers. The price tag is the single largest in Air Force history, ranging from some $35 billion up to $100 billion dollars.

As you might imagine, with up to $100 billion at stake, a lot of companies will want a piece of the action. And it's here that things start to get ugly.

Boeing was America's favorite. But the European maker, Airbus, had some innovative design features that might make for a better solution. Of course, Airbus is European, so selling that kind of outsourcing wasn't easy.

FULL POST


Filed under: David Gewirtz • Economy • Job Market
March 8th, 2010
11:00 AM ET

Jobs and population: Can our big companies create enough jobs?

Editor's Note: This article continues our series excerpted from AC360°'s contributor David Gewirtz's book, How To Save Jobs, which is available now. AC360° viewers can download it for free at HowToSaveJobs.org. To learn more about the book, follow David on Twitter @DavidGewirtz.

David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute

Seventeen million people still need work. That's a lot of people. Add to that the ever-changing numbers from our current financial crisis: as of spring 2009, seven million jobs were lost. That's a lot more people looking for work.

Here the Bureau of Labor Statistics mucks with the unemployment numbers a bit, which is subject to raging debate among the talking heads.

BLS tends to not count every unemployed person. Those who are unemployed and have simply given up don't show up in BLS's estimates of the number of unemployed citizens. They call these folks "discouraged workers and others marginally attached to the labor force." Special.

As of the first quarter in 2009, the Bureau of Labor Statistics tells us there are 2.1 million of these "discouraged workers" and another 13.5 million workers who are unemployed, but, presumably, keeping a stiff upper lip. By 2010, it's worse.

That's 15.6 million people who need jobs. That's a lot of jobs. That's a lot of jobs we need to create.

FULL POST


Filed under: David Gewirtz • Economy • Job Market
March 5th, 2010
12:03 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Unemployment rate holds steady at 9.7%

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

It’s the report that Wall Street and Main Street have been waiting for all week: the government says the economy shed 36,000 jobs last month, while the unemployment rate held steady at 9.7%. Both readings came in better than expectations.

But the results were still worse than the previous month, as just 26,000 jobs were lost in January, according to the revised estimate.

Also, the government said the winter storms that blanketed the East Coast with several feet of snow last month possibly skewed the results. The Labor Dept.'s jobs survey was conducted in the middle of February, which coincided with blizzards that temporarily shuttered some businesses and kept many workers home without pay. Those employees would not have been counted on the government's payroll survey.

Construction continued to be one of the worst-hit sectors, cutting 64,000 jobs in February. Retailers trimmed 400 jobs after adding 41,000 positions in January. Manufacturing businesses added just 1,000 jobs, down from 20,000 new jobs the month before.

But several industries showed solid gains in employment, including health care and the service industries. Also encouraging was the addition of 47,500 temporary workers, whose hiring often signals that employers are starting to gear up again.

All told, nearly 15 million people unemployed – or roughly the populations of Pennsylvania and Nevada combined.

Still, the number of workers who were seeking full-time employment but were working only part-time hours rose, pushing the so-called “underemployment rate” up to 16.8% from 16.5% in January.

The silver lining

So is there any good news? Well if you are lucky enough to have a job, your paycheck may be starting to get bigger – and that’s a sign of improvement in the job market.

Even a small gain in income is significant. If consumers have more money in their pockets, that can help to boost consumer spending and create the demand that will prompt a resumption of hiring.

According to the government's report, average hourly earnings have risen by nearly 2% over the past 12 months. And that's not the only evidence of a turnaround in pay.

An analysis of income and employment taxes withheld from more than 130 million U.S. workers by TrimTabs Investment Research found that total salaries and wages increased by 0.7% in February compared to a year ago. This is the first increase since 2008, and it represents $42 billion extra dollars in consumers' pockets compared to a year ago.

Job creation bill heads back to Senate

It’s all still a work in progress though… and lawmakers' efforts to spur job creation were delayed once again Thursday after the House amended a $15 billion Senate bill before passing it.

The amendments mean the Senate must again approve the four-prong measure, this time with no changes, if President Obama is to sign it into law. The Senate may not take up the legislation until next week.

The bill would exempt employers from Social Security payroll taxes on new hires who were unemployed; fund highway and transit programs through 2010; extend a tax break for business that spend money on capital investments, such as equipment purchases; and expand the use of the Build America Bonds program, which helps states and municipalities fund capital construction projects.

However, the House added two provisions to pay for the infrastructure spending and corporate tax breaks. The amendments require foreign financial institutions to give the IRS more information to help it catch tax cheats, and delays a tax break for foreign interest payments. The measure passed by a 217-201 vote.

Tax breaks for job seekers

We all know that job hunting can be expensive. The costs of hiring career coaches, printing hundreds of résumés at Kinko's and flying out for job interviews can really add up, especially for someone who doesn't have an income.

But finally, there's a benefit to being unemployed: job seekers can deduct search-related expenses, including employment and outplacement agency fees, travel costs and résumé costs. Your job search doesn't even have to result in employment for you to qualify!

Check out the details on CNNMoney.com.

Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Job Market • Unemployment
March 4th, 2010
03:52 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Jobs numbers take center stage

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

New claims for jobless benefits fell last week - another sign that layoffs may be easing as the economy slowly recovers. This comes on the heels if two reports out Wednesday that showed the pace of job cuts continued to slow last month, and ahead of Friday’s all-important February employment report.

The Labor Dept. says that initial claims for unemployment insurance fell by 29,000 to a seasonally-adjusted 469,000 in the week ended Feb. 27.

In addition, the number of people continuing to claim jobless benefits fell by 134,000 to 4.5 million in the week ended Feb. 20, the most recent data available.

But continuing claims only reflect people filing each week after their initial claim until the end of their standard benefits, which usually last 26 weeks. The figures do not include those people who have moved to state or federal extensions, or people whose benefits have expired.

FULL POST


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Finance • Job Market • Unemployment
February 23rd, 2010
02:11 PM ET

Senate takes up jobs bill

he Senate voted to push forward a $15 billion jobs creation bill that would give businesses a tax break for hiring the unemployed.

he Senate voted to push forward a $15 billion jobs creation bill that would give businesses a tax break for hiring the unemployed.

Tami Luhby
CNN Money

The Senate voted Monday to push forward a $15 billion jobs creation bill that would give businesses a tax break for hiring the unemployed.

Five Republicans - including newly elected Sen. Scott Brown, R-Mass. - reached across the aisle to approve the procedural measure, which passed by a 62-30 vote. One Democrat did not support it. A final vote on the bill should take place in a few days.

The 4-prong bill would:

*Exempt employers from Social Security payroll taxes on new hires who were unemployed;

*Fund highway and transit programs through 2010;

*Extend a tax break for business that spend money on capital investments like equipment purchases;

*Expand the use of the Build America Bonds program, which helps states and municipalities fund capital construction projects.

Keep reading...


Filed under: Job Market • Raw Politics • Unemployment
February 19th, 2010
03:00 PM ET

Jobs and Population: Keeping up with America's population growth

Editor's Note: This article continues our series excerpted from AC360°'s contributor David Gewirtz's book, How To Save Jobs, which is available now. AC360° viewers can download it for free at HowToSaveJobs.org. To learn more about the book, follow David on Twitter @DavidGewirtz.

David Gewirtz | BIO
AC360° Contributor
Director, U.S. Strategic Perspective Institute

So far, we’ve talked about China’s and India’s population, but now let’s look specifically at the American labor force. The Bureau of Labor Statistics regularly comes up with a number that represents the civilian, non-institutional population as those individuals, 16-years-old and older, who are not institutionalized (mental health facility, hospital, prison, etc).

This civilian, non-institutional population number is key, because it reflects the number of people in America who need jobs. Obviously, not all working-age Americans will be part of the workforce. Some are house partners. Some are wealthy enough to simply enjoy life. Others live at home with Mommy and Daddy and are enjoying the slacker lifestyle for as long as they can get away with it. And others simply can’t find work.

My goal with this book is to help create an America where every person who wants a job can get one. The number of people who make up the U.S. civilian, non-institutional population number gives us the number of jobs that need to exist for everyone who wants a job to have a job.

Therefore, this number is very, very important.

If you ever want to have a partisan fight, here’s a great topic: the number of jobs created during a President’s administration. As you might imagine, the party in power will claim success and the party not in power will claim the other side did a terrible job.

FULL POST

February 9th, 2010
01:51 PM ET

Financial Dispatch: Another Toyota recall

Toyota announced the global recall of more than 400,000 of its 2010 hybrid models today.

Toyota announced the global recall of more than 400,000 of its 2010 hybrid models today.

Andrew Torgan
CNN Financial News Producer

Toyota’s troubles just refuse to go away. The Japanese auto giant today announced the global recall of more than 400,000 of its 2010 hybrid models, including the popular Prius, for problems in their anti-lock braking systems.

The worldwide recall involves 437,000 vehicles, including the Toyota Prius and the Lexus HS250h. Sales of the Lexus HS250h will be halted until a fix is in place.

Last week, Toyota acknowledged a problem with the software that controls the anti-lock braking system of the 2010 Prius and said it had already corrected the problem in cars that started to roll off the assembly line in Japan last month.

As recently as Friday, the company said a solution was near for the 200,000 of the 2010 model year Prius vehicles that have been sold in Japan and the 103,000 sold in the United States.

The Prius is the automaker's best-selling vehicle in Japan and its No. 4 seller in the United States.

And as Toyota's troubles mount, the automaker is gearing up for a new front in the battle to salvage its once-sterling image and credibility: Capitol Hill.

Toyota officials have been called to testify before two House panels this month, and the Senate may schedule one as well.

Slight improvement for job seekers

Despite the fact that there are nearly 15 million people out of work in this country, competition for new jobs is easing ever so slightly.

There are now about 5.9 job seekers, on average, competing for each job opening, according to the latest Job Openings and Labor Turnover survey from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That's down from 6.4 the previous month - the greatest differential since the Labor Dept. began tracking job openings in December 2000.

It's the first time the ratio of job seekers to jobs dipped below six to one since June of last year. While that's a step in the right direction, it's still a far cry from pre-recession levels.

When the recession began in December 2007 there were only 1.7 workers per opening.

So where are the best places to find work? Consider hotels, casinos, hospitals or schools. Compared to other industries, the number of job openings as a percentage of total employment was greatest in the leisure and hospitality and education and health services industries, the report showed.

The match is back!

Finally, workers who took a hit on their savings last year might finally be in for some welcome news: Companies are stepping up efforts to help them save more for retirement.

Of companies that suspended or reduced 401(k) match programs, 80% planned to restore them this year, according to a survey conducted by Hewitt Associates, a global human resources consulting firm.

Large employers reinstating company matches for 2010 include American Express and FedEx.

Workers were dealt a double-blow during the recession, as historic stock market declines decimated retirement portfolios while companies slashed 401(k) matches to reduce costs.

And even though unemployment hovers at 9.7%, some experts say the restoration of company matches is a sign of employer confidence and may be a precursor to hiring.

Follow the money… on Twitter: @AndrewTorganCNN


Filed under: Andrew Torgan • Economy • Job Market
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