This century's first decade was a tough one for workers. Just after 2000 began, legions of technology and telecommunications workers lost their jobs — victims of the bursting dot-com bubble. Then the country slammed into the 2001 recession. The recovery generated so few jobs that even two years later, the unemployment rate was still hovering around an uncomfortable 6.3 percent.
Finally, the decade ended with a two-year recession that erased 7 million jobs. The Labor Department said that as 2009 came to an end, the unemployment rate remained in the double digits and more than 15.4 million would-be workers had no jobs.
As a new decade begins, Americans are hoping for better. But economists say the labor market is likely to be weak for several more years. Harvard University labor economist Lawrence Katz estimates the U.S. economy would have to generate more than 300,000 jobs a month for four straight years just to replace the jobs lost in the 2007-2009 recession.
"We're in a very deep hole," he said.
This week, Morning Edition will take a closer look at a few industries that do hold promise for "New Jobs in the New Decade." They include:
Green Jobs. Reporter Chris Arnold visits an old Polaroid film factory. It no longer makes film for cameras. Instead, the machines, and even some of the former Polaroid workers, have made the switch to producing filmlike solar panels that can be built into windows.
Health Jobs. Reporter Tamara Keith meets with a construction worker who has decided to become a nurse.
Tech Jobs. Reporter Wendy Kaufman visits with a small business to learn more about the entrepreneurs who are creating tech jobs a little bit at a time.
Video Game Jobs. Reporter Joshua Brockman meets with the executive producer of a development company that created a popular coming-of-age game.
December Jobs Report. On Friday, the Labor Department will release the unemployment report for December. Reporter Frank Langfitt will analyze the numbers to see where we are heading.
Financial Jobs. Reporter Jim Zarroli looks at the employment outlook for those who work on Wall Street and in the financial services industry.