As Unemployment Rises, Where Are The Jobs? Unemployment numbers in the U.S. are the highest they've been since 1983, but there are still some jobs out there. Businessweek's Dean Foust breaks down where the jobs are, and which industries are growing. The alternative energy business is getting a lot of buzz; Reed Hundt, co-chairman of "the coalition for a green bank" explains.
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As Unemployment Rises, Where Are The Jobs?

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As Unemployment Rises, Where Are The Jobs?

As Unemployment Rises, Where Are The Jobs?

As Unemployment Rises, Where Are The Jobs?

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  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript

Unemployment numbers in the U.S. are the highest they've been since 1983, but there are still some jobs out there. Businessweek's Dean Foust breaks down where the jobs are, and which industries are growing. The alternative energy business is getting a lot of buzz; Reed Hundt, co-chairman of "the coalition for a green bank" explains.


This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Rebecca Roberts in Washington. Neal Conan is away.

Although some say the recession is technically over, unemployment numbers are still rising. Just last month, unemployment hit 10.2 percent, a 26-year high, but while jobs overall may take a while to come back, some industries and some parts of the country will bounce back faster than others. Parts of Texas are expected to see job growth early next year, and 10 years down the line, it may just be mathematicians that are in the money.

Businessweek's Dean Foust will join us to explain, and we especially want to hear from you this hour. Be our reporters. Where are the jobs where you live? Our number here in Washington is 800-989-8255. Our email address is, and you can join the conversation at our Web site. Go to, and click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later this hour, a review of Sarah Palin's new memoir, "Going Rogue," but first, where the jobs are.

Dean Foust is the Atlanta bureau chief for Businessweek. He joins us from the studios of member station WABE in Atlanta, Georgia. Welcome to the program.

Mr. DEAN FOUST (Atlanta Bureau Chief, Businessweek): Oh, thank you.

ROBERTS: So let's start with this double-digit unemployment. Is there any good news about jobs out there?

Mr. FOUST: The good news about jobs is that the good news about recessions is that they always end.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. FOUST: So things are never as good as they might seem at the peak, and they're never as bad as they might seem at the bottom, or more simply - this will end.

Seriously, some economists who have studied economic crises over the past century have concluded that it takes about five years from the beginning for job recovery to come back. So we're probably in for another year and a half of no job growth or modest job growth, but if we can ride it out for a couple more years, I think we'll be looking for a decade of growth after that.

ROBERTS: Well, of course, in 18 months or whatever, it's not like magically, unemployment will dip overnight. Things will start to come back in certain sectors, in certain locations, at different times. Let's start with next spring. Where do you see the first growth?

Mr. FOUST: I think if you look by industry, I think in the immediate term, you're going to see growth in some industries or services that are directly responding to the recession. And that can be as simple as child care and if for no other reason than, you know, maybe the mothers or moms, stay-at-home moms that have to go back to work.

In the immediate term, you're going to be looking at, you know, auto repair as people stretch out their cars longer. Looking over the longer term, I think industries that carried the economy over the past decade, like home building, construction and finance will not be growth areas, but the sciences will be there, and I think there's a great opportunity for green-related jobs.

The U.S. Conference of Mayors estimates that over the next three decades, at least 10 percent of all employment growth could come from green-related jobs.

You know, the thing about the U.S. economy is it's so dynamic, and it's one of the strengths of the U.S. economy that it's organic, it's dynamic, it's ever-changing.

You know, I look at it this way. If people say what's going to be the big, dominant industry or business in 10 years from now, 10 years ago, Facebook had never been invented. The founder of Facebook was in middle school. Ten years before that, for all practical purposes, the Internet had never - didn't exist. So 10 years from now, there will be businesses, there will be entrepreneurs, companies that take us all by surprise and become great employers.

ROBERTS: Well, also, since we're starting from a low level, return to how it used to be and growth are slightly different things. I mean, when you talk about, for instance, new jobs in green-related industries, those might be jobs that didn't exist before the recession, but a coming-back in sectors like hospitality or even manufacturing is just rising up from a nadir.

Mr. FOUST: Exactly, yes. I think manufacturing, if you look at some of the forecasts, most of the jobs that are - we gain back over the next five, 10 years, are going to be service-related jobs. Not - I think the best estimate I saw from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a government agency, is that there will be 20 service jobs for every manufacturing job. You know, the truth is, even though we talk about the death of manufacturing in the U.S., the U.S. still manufactures about twice as much as China. We just do it in more high-value industries that don't have as high of a - don't require as many workers.

But most of the job growth going forward is going to be in services. Health care. If you believe that demographics is destiny, health care is going to be a continuing source of employment going forward, simply because the baby boomers like me are getting older, we're not getting younger.

So health care� A lot of technician jobs or technical jobs, lab technicians and such, those are still going to be - there's still going to be need for that. And science- and math-related jobs, you know, if you have kids in school, push that math.

ROBERTS: Let's go to the phones. This is Ron in San Antonio, Texas. Ron, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

RON (Caller): Well, thanks, delighted to be on, and you mentioned health care and baby boomers, old is the new green because of the numbers of people moving into the field.

I work with WellMed Medical Management, providing health care for medical - Medicare-eligible seniors, and it is indeed a need and a great opportunity for employment.

ROBERTS: You mean that, as there are more old people, there is more of an industry to take care of them?

RON: Well, there has to be. And as one of your co-hosts said, baby boomers are certainly getting older, and all will need, at some point, extended care and medical care that understands the needs of seniors. And that, for folks who are looking for growth industry - whether they're a medical practitioner, a nurse, a technician or simply looking for an opportunity to work in a clinic - that's a tremendous growth industry here in San Antonio.

ROBERTS: And Ron, what about geographically? How is South Texas looking?

RON: Well, San Antonio is looking great. In fact, when one goes down for dinner or into the malls, you'd never know there'd been a recession because so many people are out shopping. It doesn't mean that some folks haven't been hurt. Certainly, some have, and there certainly have been layoffs, but overall, the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce and others have pointed out we fared pretty well, and part of that is the service base for the industry here.

ROBERTS: Ron, thanks for your call. Dean Foust, why is San Antonio doing pretty well? What is it geographically about that area?

Mr. FOUST: Well, for one thing, San Antonio has more military bases than I can count on one hand. I think, and I wish Ron had stayed on because he could walk me through it, but there must be something like five or six military bases in that area. So that has provided a bit of a buffer.

There are pockets around the country, there are regions, that if you went there tomorrow, you wouldn't know there was a recession. If you look at the Great Plains states, some of the lowest unemployment rates are now in places like Fargo, North Dakota.

ROBERTS: And why is that?

Mr. FOUST: Bismarck, North Dakota; Rapid City, South Dakota; we're talking three percent, four percent unemployment rates in those cities.

These were cities that didn't go through the housing boom, so that, you know, in areas like Southern California and South Florida, the housing booms created a lot of overnight wealth - either from people selling their homes, from people, you know, being the realtors that handled the transactions, people using their new-found appreciation in their home as a piggy bank to cash out. And so when the bubble burst, suddenly you're sucking a lot of income out of those areas, but you know, you go to the parts, a lot - swaths of the Midwest and the Great Plains states, they didn't suffer through the bubble, they didn't suffer through the bust, and their economies are chugging along. Biofuels, alternative energies, are providing. Agriculture is providing good employment growth in those states.

ROBERTS: We are talking about where the jobs are, where they are likely to be in a job recovery, both by industry and geographically. You can join us, 800-989-8255. Or send us email, Let's hear from Valerie(ph) in Ithaca, New York. Valerie, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

VALERIE (Caller): Hi there, thanks for taking my call.


VALERIE: My husband is working for a company that does energy audits, home energy audits, which is testing how much fuel it takes to heat a house, and they do insulation and air-sealing - so energy efficiency upgrades. And his company is expanding, and they're planning to expand more, and I don't think it's just stimulus money, although people are getting stimulus money to do that kind of work on their homes.

But you know, it's a very cold climate here, and as oil prices increase, it's just sort of a no-brainer to increase the efficiency of your home heating. So I think it's a growth industry even, you know, despite what the government stimulus packages will do.

ROBERTS: And Valerie, how are you feeling about things in Ithaca in general?

VALERIE: Well, great. I mean, the other thing about Ithaca is it is so - there is such a large density of small family farms, and so there's a lot of food security here. I think the farmers are doing really well. There's a lot of awareness for buying locally, and there's sort of - you know, I guess Ithaca's a very alternative sort of community, so there's a growing sense of independence, maybe, in the area, you know, like that more and more we might be able to insulate ourselves from the shocks of the larger country.

ROBERTS: Valerie, thanks for your call. Dean Foust, of course, something else that Ithaca has is two major universities, and college towns are an area that seem to be less hard hit by the recession.

Mr. FOUST: Oh, exactly, and back to that, we were running through the list of cities with the lowest unemployment rates in the country. You can add to that, Champaign, Illinois. Employment there rose by about 1,500 over the past year. So university - education will continue to be a source of employment strength.

ROBERTS: You know, Valerie mentioned the effect of stimulus money. Is it quantifiable, first of all, how much job recovery might be attributable to that but also how long that might last?

Mr. FOUST: I think so far, the - you have seen an overstatement of how many jobs the stimulus has created, and I don't think that that's so much the result of the White House trying to claim too much credit. I think it may be more simply that the companies that applied for the stimulus dollars overstated how many jobs they could create to get it.

I think the key for it is are we creating, you know, strengthening the infrastructure. So I think we're going to see another wave of stimulus spending, and hopefully it will be more on infrastructure, roads, bridges and such, that are permanent improvements to the economy.

ROBERTS: We are talking about jobs this hour, as everyone is these days. You can call us at 800-989-8255, or send us email, I'm Rebecca Roberts. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

ROBERTS: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Rebecca Roberts in Washington. These days, despite some positive economic signs, Americans have three things on their minds: jobs and jobs and jobs. With unemployment over 10 percent, things have been bleak.

This hour, we are asking you to tell us where the jobs are in your area. What work have you found and in what sector? Joining us is Atlanta bureau chief of Businessweek, Dean Foust, and we want to hear from you. Give us a call at 800-989-8255. You can also join the conversation on our Web site. Go to, and click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Let's hear from Sara(ph) in Boulder, Colorado. Sara, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

SARA (Caller): Hi, thanks for taking my call. I wanted to pick up on something Mr. Foust had mentioned about education. I am a recent Ph.D., and many of my friends have had difficulty finding tenure-track jobs because of the hiring freeze at universities. On the other hand, I was able to find adjunct teaching at a community college, where the college is experiencing a big influx of new students.

We had to double the number of biology sections for general biology this semester, which allowed me to pick up that kind of work. So I'll take my comment off the air, I guess.

ROBERTS: Sara, do you have a sense that more people are going to college because they can't find jobs?

SARA: I think that is the situation that some of my students are in. Some of it is more of their long-term planning. But for example, one of my students has had her husband lose his job, and she's moving into a new career after being a housewife, knowing that she needs to make her family more stable.

ROBERTS: Sara, thanks for your call. Dean Foust, that's an interesting point. I mean, the unemployability of Ph.D.s is an issue that preceded the recession, but the idea that there are more students on a, you know, basic biology level is an aspect I hadn't thought of.

Mr. FOUST: I think the - I think the fact that you do have Ph.D.s who are having trouble getting teaching jobs is a reflection of the artificial constraints of the tenure system, where you can't get a generation of, you know, tenured faculty to retire, and now I know your phone lines are going to light up with tenured faculty.

But back to her point, I do think that you are going to see a big growth because I think you're going to have see the retraining and re-education of a generation of workers, maybe who were in the auto industry and now are going to be retrained for all those green jobs that we've talked about.

ROBERTS: Well, let's talk about green jobs for a second. These industries are expected to create more jobs down the road, but there's still sort of an open question about what exactly you need to get hired in these industries.

Joining us now is Reed Hundt. He's the co-chairman of the Coalition for a Green Bank, which is a consortium of energy companies that want more funding from Congress for green energy. He joins us from his office here in Washington, D.C. Welcome to the program.

Mr. REED HUNDT (Co-chairman, Coalition for a Green Bank): Thanks for having me.

ROBERTS: How do you define a green job?

Mr. HUNDT: Well, a green job is any kind of work involved in making clean electricity or in turning a building into a building that doesn't use very much electricity. It's a combination of clean electricity and very efficient use of electricity.

ROBERTS: So are we talking more about product development and installation and design jobs?

Mr. HUNDT: Really simply, we're talking about pipefitters building transmission lines, and we're talking about steelworkers bending metal into wind turbines, and we're talking about contractors with ladders and hammers installing insulation.

ROBERTS: And are those jobs open now?

Mr. HUNDT: The jobs are open, but there's no or hardly any money flowing. Just to give you a sense of the order of magnitude, if we were to convert our electricity-generation economy from carbon to clean, we would create about eight million jobs. We would create about eight million jobs. And if we were to take our commercial and residential housing and make it really, really well-insulated, we would create about eight million jobs. The two are about the same, and that total is 16 million.

That basically would break the back of the unemployment problem in America. We can't do it by next Monday, but we ought to hold ourselves accountable if we aren't making progress by next Monday.

ROBERTS: And what's the bottleneck to progress?

Mr. HUNDT: Well, number one, the Senate has to vote on an energy and environment bill. And I know they've got to do a lot of other things, but if they want to create jobs, they're going to have to vote on an energy and environment bill because the energy economy, like the rest of the economy, is just stuck. You know, it's you know, it's dead in the water. It is not moving forward. We have plenty of capacity to make dirty energy, but we don't have any demand for new energy. So we have to have the government step in.

And number two, you can't ask people who are seeing the value of their house drop and drop and drop to dip into their pocket and install insulation. You've got to help them out. So there are a lot of details, but the basic point is if you want to insulate buildings, and if you want to provide clean electricity, it's time for the government to step in.

ROBERTS: And are things like a tax credit for purchasing more fuel-efficient windows, that sort of thing, are those helping?

Mr. HUNDT: Those are helping, but the idea of the green bank, and the reason we have more than 100 businesses that support it and the reason why it was passed by the House and the reason it was passed by the Senate Energy Committee under the leadership of Jeff Bingaman, all these things with the support of Barack Obama, the reason why you need the green bank is you need a functioning, focused, non-profit wholesale bank that will underwrite commercial loans and commercial investment.

China has this. China's able to finance wind energy and nuclear power and solar power at prices way, way below what we're seeing here in the United States, and we need to get prices for clean electricity down and business activity in the clean area up.

ROBERTS: So when we hear that green industries are likely to be a growth sector in the economy, would you put an asterisk on that and say with some action by Congress and some investment?

Mr. HUNDT: Well, I would say only with action by Congress and only if they do exactly what the president has asked for, which is to pass the energy and environment bill.

Now, the president did work with Congress to make a down payment on these activities by dedicating a significant amount of the stimulus bill to the kinds of programs that the green bank should do for the next 20 years, but he would be the first to tell you it was only a down payment. And what we really have to do is say: Is there any other sector of our economy that is even remotely large enough to really move the meter on job creation? The answer is - it's the energy sector.

For decades, we have been disinvesting in this sector. We have been reducing employment. We have been shrinking investment, and we've been putting off the day when we would convert to an energy-independent, nationally secure, home-grown energy business and putting off the day when we would have our buildings - both commercial buildings and residential buildings - be well-insulated. And now it turns out that the day has come where, if we take these steps, we also can be solving the number one problem in America, which is people want to engage in productive work, and they can't find full-time jobs.

So the silver lining of the unemployment, and it's not that much of a silver lining, but the silver lining of the unemployment problem is we have productive activities for people to turn to work in, and this can include everybody from pipefitters to accountants, and even, God forbid, lawyers can be involved.

ROBERTS: Well, so let me ask you this. Suppose somebody says okay, you know, I'm in college, or I'm thinking of switching careers, and I think this is a good bet of an industry for me to move into. What should they - what skills should they be acquiring? What should they - how should they approach actually getting a job in this�?

Mr. HUNDT: Well, I was just at Cornell University this weekend giving a talk. They had 2,400 people from all over the country who were asking that exact question. Cornell is to be praised for gathering them all together. They all asked that exact question. And the answer is if you follow your passion, whether it's engineering or whether it's software or whether it's pipefitting or whether it's electrical engineering or whether it's lawyering or investment banking, there's a place for you in the energy economy, if and only if, Congress passes an aggressive bill that makes a commitment to use the green bank and other techniques that will convert our economy from carbon to clean.

ROBERTS: And if someone is feeling like maybe this isn't the year to follow my passion, maybe this is the year to do something incredibly practical to make sure I have some job security, where would you point them?

Mr. HUNDT: The practical thing to do right now - and I'm sorry to keep coming back to this - but the practical thing for everyone to do right now is to call their congressman or call their senator and say, pass the energy and environment bill and let Americans have a chance to work.

I just have to say, I lived this before. I was the chairman of the Federal Communications Commission in 1993 through to 1997. And in �96, Congress passed a telecommunications law that jumpstarted innovation and competition. And from 1997, the next year, for the 10 years that followed, private capital invested $850 billion in new networks, mobile and Internet networks in the United States.

If Congress will do the right thing and pass this energy bill, we will see 800 to - 800 billion to a trillion dollars of new investment in energy. And everybody who wants to work in this sector will find an opportunity beyond imagination.

ROBERTS: Reed Hundt, thanks very much.

Mr. HUNDT: Thank you.

ROBERTS: Reed Hundt is the cochairman of the Coalition for a Green Bank. It's a consortium of energy companies. They want more funding from Congress for green energy. He joined us from his office here in Washington, D.C.

We are talking about where the jobs are, where they are likely to be by industry and by geography. And you can join us at 800-989-8255. You can also send us email:

We're also joined by Dean Foust. He's the Atlanta bureau chief for BusinessWeek magazine. He's joining us from WABE in Atlanta.

And we heard from Reed Hundt, Dean Foust, about some congressional initiatives he hopes will happen. It seems to indicate that some of these estimates about where jobs will come from and where growth will happen have a lot of contingencies along the way. There's a little bit of magic to these predictions.

Mr. FOUST: Yes and no. The opportunity is there and - but I think Reed is right, that there probably is a role for government to jumpstart the process, because that's been the case over the decades and centuries, where government comes in and helps provide the seed funding to get a new industry off the ground, you know. That - and so, there was, you know, a Manhattan Project that - where government funded the creation of the Internet, a lot of commercial aircraft manufacturing in the country. Boeing and McDonnell Douglas stemmed out of military spending, military programs.

And Reed was right, that the Telecommunications Act did stimulate a lot of investment in the communications sector. And there's probably - without politicizing this whole issue, discussion today - I mean, there very well -maybe the advocates of this would say there's a role for government.

If you look - wind turbines, the industry, a lot of - the turbine industry is in China and Germany. This is where we talk about creating wind farms in the U.S., and yet there's virtually no turbine production in the U.S. It's all -all the R&D is in China and Germany, and those are government-funded programs. Toyota developed the Prius with a hybrid technology. They did that with the help of a billion dollars from the Japanese government. So I think you can still be a capitalist and believe that there are times when there's a role for the government to jump in and help give an industry a push.

ROBERTS: You're listening to TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

You mentioned the government effort to get the Internet off the ground, and, of course, that still is a source of jobs. We have a email from Katie in Cincinnati, Ohio that says: I'm a freelance Web designer. The company I used to work for fulltime and now freelance with, a digital-based advertising agency, is doing really well.

Companies like Procter & Gamble headquarters here in Cincinnati are realizing that the Internet is the place to spend money. Their spending money is trackable there. So while the old advertising giants who dealt with in-store print and TV are crumbling, new media agencies with smart strategies are doing well. The jobs are with the Internet.

Mr. FOUST: Two threads in that comment that you just - that really struck me. One was - Katie talked about freelance work. And there are some work futurists, so to speak, that believe that going forward we may see more - instead of the traditional employer, we may see more contract work. I mean, you see that already in the economy, in parts - in sectors like law firms, corporate law firms. You know, companies hire these outside law firms so that when there's nothing going on, they're only paying, effectively, for the work of two or three lawyers. And then when they do a big merger, big deal and they need, you know, 30 lawyers on hand, then they can flex, they can expand. We see it with ad agencies.

And there are some who believe that companies may start going to more of that model going forward, for, you know, software design, engineering. I mean, you can just go down the list of so many of the services that companies currently employ fulltime, and that we may become a freelance nation or a contract nation, where we work for these agencies or consulting firms and we move from project to project. So the old days of our - you know, my - your father, my father working for the same company for 40 years definitely will be over.

As far as the Internet, the comment about the Internet, I - we talked about math skills earlier. I think there's a great future for people with mathematics and statistics skills because so many companies are now trying to take a more analytical approach. I mean, the advertising she mentioned, now there are math - you know, ad agencies that hire mathematicians to measure the effectiveness and efficiency of advertising. You know, the old joke about the businessman who says I know that 80 percent of my advertising is wasted. I just don't know which 80 percent it is.


Mr. FOUST: Well, they're now hiring mathematicians to figure that out. So push your kids to study that math.

ROBERTS: Let's hear from John in Grand Rapids, Michigan. John, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

JOHN (Caller): Hi. Thanks for having me.

ROBERTS: Sure. You're on the air, John.

JOHN: Oh, well, I'm actually a student. I'm just finishing up school, and I've actually gotten a fulltime job offer from an accounting firm in Grand Rapids. And I'd like to say that accounting is still one of the top industries out there because accounting is kind of the backbone for all business. Wherever there's green jobs, the money will follow and there will always be a need for accountants, you know? So that's just kind of my thought about it.

ROBERTS: John, thanks for your call. I think the headline there might be that John got a fulltime job in Michigan.

Mr. FOUST: That's - yeah. What's the old joke? That it's a recession if your neighbor loses a job and a depression if you lose yours. So it all - your perspective about what the government should do and what the economy feels like may be depending on whether you're employed or not.

ROBERTS: Yeah. The Bureau of Labor Statistics for September says the unemployment in Detroit is 17.3 percent.

Mr. FOUST: If you look geographically - you know, I think over the long term, I - you know, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but I think that there are states like Michigan - I mean, the pejorative is to call them the Rust Belt states, but the old industrial Midwest. I wonder if those economies are really going to be able to snap back.

At some point, we are going to - you know, the economy is going to grow into some point when manufacturing does come back. I think it's going to come back in the non-union regions of the country like the South and the Southeast. And I'm not sure that, you know, new manufactures are going to want to come in and move back into heavily unionized areas.

ROBERTS: More with Dean Foust of BusinessWeek and your calls on where the jobs are, coming up. Plus, later, Congressional correspondent Andrea Seabrook has been curled up with one of the hottest political reads around. She'll tell us what she thought of Sarah Palin's "Going Rogue." I'm Rebecca Roberts. It's TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

ROBERTS: We've been talking with BusinessWeek's Dean Foust about where the jobs are now and where they're going to be. We've heard your reports. Where are you finding work where you live? Let's hear from Robert in Topeka, Kansas. Robert, welcome to TALK OF THE NATION.

ROBERT (Caller): Yes. I had to leave my home in Florida to chase the military industrial complex jobs, this 100-year war. John McCain is alive and well and the military industrial complex. And thank you so much for recognizing the higher numbers of unemployment. I've been doing this for 40 years, and if you go back to before Clinton, the way the unemployment was figured out, and you take the people that are going to school and given up and the people that have given up and are not looking for work, I believe the unemployment rate is 22.1 percent nationwide.

ROBERTS: Thank you for your call.

So Dean Foust, here is a living example of exactly what you've been talking about. He left Florida, where there has been a housing boom, and went to the Great Plains to follow a military industry job.

Mr. FOUST: Again, it gets back to what - one of the things that's made the US economy great, again, is the flexibility of the economy and the flexibility -the flexible nature of the workforce where workers easily migrate to the regions, where the jobs are needed to the industries and where they are willing and able to be retrained.

He mentioned he's from Topeka. Wichita, Kansas, right now is an economy that's doing very well. It has a number of aircraft makers there: Cessna, Hawker Beechcraft. Boeing does some work there. Yeah, we talked about the Midwest. It may have - it may struggle, the old manufacturing sector. But, again, for workers that are mobile, you can go to cities: Salt Lake City, Oklahoma City are doing well - Houston, Honolulu, Tallahassee, Florida. These are some of the - Shreveport, Louisiana, with the energy sector. These are all economies that have been resilient and have held up and are probably going to be poised for even bigger gains going forward.

ROBERTS: We have an email from Karen in Syracuse, New York, who says: I have had my certification to teach middle and high school English in New York State for almost five years now. However, I've not been able to secure myself a permanent position since receiving my license.

With the economy going south, school budgets have been cut and teachers have been getting laid off en masse. If new teachers want to get a job doing what they have been trained to do, it has become a waiting game - waiting for more senior teachers to retire since the insecurity of the job market has kept most of the turnover rates down. Then, even in those cases, many districts will not replace the retiring teacher, instead opting to reorganize classes and disperse more students among the teachers already working in the schools.

Is there going to be a time, anytime in the next few years, when the job market will get better for us teachers? Where are our job opportunities? I'm having difficulty seeing the light at the end of the tunnel.

Mr. FOUST: Again, this gets back to the - where - which geographies, which regions are going to grow. I live here in Atlanta in a suburb known as Dunwoody. And at the elementary school that my children have went to, all of the teachers, it seems, all of the young teachers come - are graduates, newly minted graduates of the University of Michigan. So there you go.

I know that the Atlanta school systems here have had job fairs in recent years. And in some of the news coverage I've seen, people have driven from New York State and Michigan to interview for jobs here. So I think that you've still got - you still got growth in education. You've got the children of the bloomer(ph) generation coming through the schools, and there is going to be a need for teachers in regions that are growing.

ROBERTS: Dean Foust is the Atlanta bureau chief of BusinessWeek. Thank you so much for joining us.

Mr. FOUST: Oh, thank you for having me.

ROBERTS: Dean Foust joined us from the studios of member station WABE in Atlanta, Georgia.

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