Who's Bearing The Brunt Of The Recession? News of layoffs has made headlines for months now, from Wall Street and banks to auto and construction workers. The sectors hardest-hit by layoffs primarily employ men. Also, once out of work, older Americans find it much harder to get a job.
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Who's Bearing The Brunt Of The Recession?

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Who's Bearing The Brunt Of The Recession?

Who's Bearing The Brunt Of The Recession?

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This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. In this financial crisis stories of layoffs have come in waves. Last September the focus was on New York's Wall Street and banks. We've all heard stories about auto workers in Michigan, construction in Arizona, real estate in Florida, teachers in California and newspapers everywhere. So it's hard to get a grip on the bigger picture. You probably know the mind numbing total, 5.1 million jobs lost but who's hurting worst, young or old, men or women, white collar or blue collar, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, whites?

We want you to tell us what's happening among your friends and colleagues and your family. Who is bearing the brunt? Tell us what you're seeing where you live. Give us a call, 800-989-8255, zap us an email, talk@npr.org. And you can join the conversation on our Web site, go to npr.org, just click on TALK OF THE NATION.

Later, we mark the 50th birthday of Stunk and White's "Elements of Style" with a linguist who argues that neither of them knew what he was writing about. But first, who bears the brunt of the economic crisis. And we begin with Steven Greenhouse, the labor and workplace correspondent for the New York Times, author of "The Big Squeeze: Tough times for the American Worker." And Steve, nice to have you back on the program.

Mr. STEVEN GREENHOUSE (Labor and Workplace Correspondent, The New York Times): Nice to be back Neal.

CONAN: And you were in Florida last month describing the competition between older and younger people competing for jobs that we used to think of as entry level positions.

Mr. GREENHOUSE: Yes it was not a very happy situation. I read about, you know, people in their 60's and 70's competing with, you know, 19-year-olds for jobs at McDonald's. A lot of older workers are seeing that their 401(k)'s have really deteriorated and their Social Security is not enough to live on. So they've gone back to the same entry level jobs that they had when they were 20 and they're competing with 20-year-olds. And it's in many ways a sad situation.

CONAN: And who is winning this competition?

Mr. GREENHOUSE: Well, apparently older workers are winning. I know that might be surprising but I think a lot of employers want to hire people who have experience. A lot of the older workers have a lot of experience in working face-to-face with people. With sales, a lot of the younger people they don't trust as much. They worry that, you know, youngsters are going to go surfing on a nice day, whereas not many 68-year-olds, 70-year-olds will rush to go surfing on a beautiful day.

I had this similar experience, just anecdotally, and a lot of this stuff is anecdotal. But a friend who went to apply for a job as a bartender on a cruise ship that goes in the waters of Maryland and thought she would be the oldest person applying for the job, and in fact she turned out to be the youngest.

Mr. GREENHOUSE: That's, a lot of people are - have been thrown into the labor market, lot of people, you know, thought they'd be having steady jobs. And now we have 13 million people unemployed and everyone is applying for, you know, a lot of people are applying for five, 10, 15 jobs. And we have young people, old people, people in the middle applying for jobs. And everyone is, you know, competing for them and its, you know, older folks who want part-time jobs and younger folks just entering the labor market who are competing for these jobs like, you know, being a bartender on a cruise or working in McDonald's or being a receptionist in a doctor's office.

CONAN: And those jobs are - well, you know, what's going to happen to younger people if they can't find work?

Mr. GREENHOUSE: That's a good question. And some professors say it's going to be a major loss for the nation's long term productivity when, you know, younger people just entering the workforce are not getting that needed experience. They're not getting the training they need. They're not learning the discipline of, you know, getting up at 7:30 each morning and getting to the job by 9:00. And hopefully the economy will pick up in the next few years.

You know, I tell a lot of young people, if it's very hard to get a job now then maybe you should go to, you know, go to school for a while and improve your skills so that, you know, when the economy improves - whether its six months or a year or two years, you'll have better skills and be able to command higher pay and a better job in the job market.

CONAN: Yeah but people say to you I'm sure, you know, school is not free.

Mr. GREENHOUSE: That is true, Neal. But community colleges are often affordable. There are some apprenticeship programs for people who want to learn to be carpenters or plumbers. And the Obama administration is making more (unintelligible) loans available to lower income and moderate income families so that they can send their kids to school.

CONAN: On the other side of the equation, these are people who many of them thought they'd be through working by now.

Mr. GREENHOUSE: That is true. I've written several stories about, you know, people in their 60's and 70's who thought, you know, thank God I could finally retire. I have you know, $700,000 in my 401(k) and that with my Social Security will tide me over until I pass, so to speak. But, you know, all these people I interviewed said that their 401(k)'s have dropped from $400,000 to $200,000 or $500,000 to, you know, $250,000. And all of a sudden they realize they don't have enough money in their 401(k)'s and their medical costs are soaring and, you know, energy costs are really going up for a while. And a lot of people reluctantly have, you know, in their 60's and 70's have gone back to work.

I've interviewed people in their early 60's who, you know, were thinking a year ago they'd retire at the age of 66 or 67, but then they saw what happened to the 401(k). So now they're saying, oh, I'm going to have to retire at the age of 75. In my book I write about a 73-year old in St. Paul, Minnesota, who thought he was going to retire in the late 60's when he had a double bypass operation. But he discovered in his early 70's he just didn't have enough money to make ends meet. So now he's working on two different part-time jobs as a security guard at the age of 73. Imagine working two jobs at the age of 73.

CONAN: Well let's see what's happening in one particular place. Brad Speck runs the No Worker Left Behind program in Livonia, Michigan. It's about half an hour outside of Detroit. And he joins us from his office there. Nice to have you with us today.

Mr. BRAD SPECK (No Worker Left Behind program): Oh, nice to be here today, thank you.

CONAN: And I wonder, you see hundreds of people who are recently out of work coming through your doors. Just what we were talking about with Steve Greenhouse, are most of them younger or older?

Mr. SPECK: Well our customers really range anywhere from 18 to 80. But the bulk of them have been, I'd say, mid-30's and above. And these are people who have been at what they felt possibly was their career job that they're going to stay at, you know, for the rest of their life and have now found themselves unemployed and have, you know, come into the center to get assistance to try to get re-employed.

CONAN: Obviously, half-hour outside of Detroit, the auto business and auto parts business is very big. Are a lot of these people, people who took buyouts or just been laid off from that business?

Mr. SPECK: Well we do have some that are from the buyout situation. We have other people that are from, you know, those tier two and tier three, that, you know, when the auto industry cuts back and buys out their employees some of the people at the, you know, tier two, tier three parts manufacturing, they're losing their jobs straight out without a buyout.

CONAN: Without a buyout, and obviously they're in more distress than the people who at least got a buyout.

Mr. SPECK: Certainly.

CONAN: And what is their - as they're looking ahead, do they see a future?

Mr. SPECK: Well, you know, they do see a future. And one of the things when they come into our center here, the programs that we offer here that the governor has put into place here in Michigan, where we can assist people and pay for their training. You were just talking to Mr. Greenhouse about, you know, the expense of college. In our programs we can pay for up to two years of training for up to $10,000 to re-train somebody and get them back into a viable industry.

CONAN: But from what you're seeing these are largely blue collar workers, people from the manufacturing sector?

Mr. SPECK: We do have a high percentage of people in Michigan that are unemployed from that sector, yes.

CONAN: And are they largely white, black?

Mr. SPECK: Here at our center we're at about a fifty-fifty split with, you know, with regards to African-American and white customers.

CONAN: Men, women?

Mr. SPECK: We actually have more women than men.

CONAN: More women…

Mr. SPECK: We have about 60 percent women to 40 percent men.

CONAN: And as you look ahead and their numbers overall I'm sure are up.

Mr. SPECK: Certainly. Well, you know, we are setting internal records here every month of more customers walking in the door every month.

CONAN: And where do you send them if they're looking for work?

Mr. SPECK: Well, we have people here that are job developers that work with employers. You know, we're working with the community chambers and we have jobs posted here. And in many times, the option is that we need to get some sort of retraining because the industry you were in, and you've only been in, is no longer going to be a viable solution. So we're looking at short-term training, maybe you know, in truck driving, you know, some sort of IT computer training to get you back out into the workforce.

CONAN: Well, we wish you and them the best of luck.

Mr. SPECK: Thank you.

CONAN: Brad Speck joined us from Livonia, Michigan, where he runs the No Worker Left Behind program there - that's just outside of Detroit - with us by phone from his office.

And well, Steve Greenhouse, as we talk about different groups of people, different old, young, black, white, men, women, one category of people that's really hard hit is people from Michigan.

Mr. STEVEN GREENHOUSE: Yes, and Brad is at the center of this perfect or very imperfect storm. You know, Michigan has the highest unemployment rate of any state in the nation, 12 percent. South Carolina is next highest, with 11 percent, and Livonia is in a very blue-collar area.

Blue-collar workers in the United States have a 15.3-percent unemployment rate. That compares with 5.8 percent for white-collar workers. Workers who have just a high school diploma, their unemployment rate averages nine percent now. If you have a bachelor's degree, generally the unemployment rate averages 4.3 percent.

So Michigan is really being hit very hard, and I often think that, you know, we - you know, Michigan is really looking to a turnaround in the auto industry. It's waiting for green cars to really take off in the United States and for, you know, hybrid cars, green cars, to take off in the United States and that to really help the industry rebound in Michigan.

But as all our listeners know, the big three Detroit automakers are in big trouble, and hopefully in a year or two, they'll come out of it and be doing very well again, but it's going to be a long slog.

CONAN: Here's an email, and we want to hear from you. How are people in your family, your circle of friends, your colleagues, how are they doing? 800-989-8255. E-mail us, talk@npr.org.

Troy in Redding, California, writes: I am a 24-year-old who graduated from college in December with degrees in aerospace engineering and physics, and I'm currently unemployed. In fact, no engineer I know who didn't have a job lined up by last October has one at this point, and that's - you'd think aerospace engineering, you graduate with a degree, you'd think you'd almost be guaranteed a job.

Mr. GREENHOUSE: I would hope so, Neal, but it's - you know, when the nation has lost, you three-million jobs in the last five months, a lot of employers aren't out there really hiring, and you know, aerospace depends on a large part on federal money, and we're seeing, you know, from what Defense Secretary Gates said the other day that they are cutting back on aerospace spending.

And I don't want to sound discouraging, but it's a very tough job market there, and I think for a field like aerospace and for blue-collar workers in the auto industry and other manufacturing industries, it's going to be a few months yet before I think there are really job openings.

Yes, there are some job openings, and maybe you can get lucky that a person retires, and you could fill in for him or her, but generally, the job market is quite bad right now. There are, what, you know four or five workers looking for work for every single job opening, and certain fields are especially difficult.

CONAN: And this email quickly from Jim in Berkeley, California. You utterly failed to mention the ongoing problems faced by people with disabilities who remain among the highest groups of unemployed people, even during good economic times, a point well taken.

Everyone's hurting these days. The recession is worse for some than others for any number of reasons. Tell us what's happening where you live, among your friends and family: 800-989-8255. Email talk@npr.org. Stay with us. This is TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

(Soundbite of music)

CONAN: This is TALK OF THE NATION. I'm Neal Conan in Washington. With unemployment at 8.5 percent, a downturn that started back in December, 2007, one thing is clear. A lot of people are suffering in the new economy.

Not everybody is affected, though, in the same way. Today we're looking at which groups are really bearing the brunt. Our guest is Steve Greenhouse. He covers labor and the workplace for the New York Times.

We want you to tell us what you're seeing where you live, what's happening to the people in your life? Give us a call, 800-989-8255. Email talk@npr.org. There's a conversation on our Web site, too. Go to npr.org. Click on TALK OF THE NATION.

And let's go next to Jason(ph), Jason with us from Florence in South Carolina.

JASON (Caller): Hi, Neal.

CONAN: Hi, Jason.

JASON: My wife works for the Department of Social Services here in South Carolina, and right now due to budget shortfalls, it looks like she's possibly going to lose her job.

Her solution is she's going to walk out the back door of the food stamp office, where she works, go around the building, walk through the front door and apply, and then after she's done applying for food stamps, she's going to go down to the unemployment office and apply there, too.

CONAN: She obviously works for the state government there?

JASON: Yes, she does. She works for the food stamp office, where she's seeing a huge increase in people coming in and applying due to loss of jobs and that sort of thing, and it seems like it's going to be her next.

CONAN: And Steve Greenhouse, obviously we don't - somehow you don't think of that as happening, but yes, state and county and governments are big employers. They're having tremendous income problems, and they're laying people off.

Mr. GREENHOUSE: Yeah, you know, it's generally thought, Neal and Jason, that you know, government jobs are perhaps the most secure jobs traditionally, but now because the recession is so severe and because states and cities and counties face such huge budget deficits, we're seeing lots of layoffs. And many employers are saying, you know, are urging their employees to take a five-percent or 10-percent pay cut and two weeks of furlough days. In that way, they might avoid layoffs.

Again, you know, federal statistics show that the lowest unemployment rate among any group is among government workers. It's just 2.8 percent, and that compares with 21 percent for construction workers and 12 percent for manufacturing workers.

So generally, government is a good field to be in, but you know, Jason, I guess your wife is caught in a bad area right now, that the South Carolina government is facing a financial squeeze, and it feels it has to lay off some workers to help reduce its budget deficit.

JASON: Yes because when she applies for unemployment, and she applies for food stamps, they're going to paying her through those about - almost the same amount she's making as a clerical person now, and they're just not going to be getting the same productivity.

CONAN: And Jason, what about you?

JASON: I'm at work right now, working in a saw mill. And actually up the road, the paper mill that takes most of our pulp wood is going through bankruptcy. So it's possible if they go under, I won't have a job, either.

CONAN: Well Jason, hang in there.

JASON: Thank you. Have a good one.

CONAN: Andrew Sum joins us now by phone from Worcester, Massachusetts, where he's professor of economics and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, and nice to have you back on the program, Andrew.

Mr. ANDREW SUM (Economics Professor, Director of the Center for Labor Market Studies, Northeastern University): Thank you, Neal.

CONAN: And as you look at the demographics of the job losses in this crisis, who's getting hit the worst?

Mr. SUM: Well, Neal, there are I think four ways to kind of classify who's been most adversely affected. There's an age dimension that some of your guests, including Steve, have commented on. Workers under the age of 30 have borne just about half of all the job losses in this recession to date, and among individuals 55 and older, so far there's not been on net job loss among that group.

The second dimension is the gender side. The gender side is the case where men basically account for about 80 percent of the net job losses and women 20 percent, and among that gender break though, Neal, there's a very big, important educational gap.

If you're a college-educated woman over the age of 25, there are more college-educated women working today than was true at the beginning of the recession. There have been no net job losses among that group.

On the other hand, if you're a relatively younger woman without a college degree, you've also taken some relatively big hits.

And then the other side is a combination of the education and occupation. There's overwhelmingly a less-than-college recession. College-educated workers so far have received very few net job losses in this downturn. They've been overwhelmingly concentrated on individuals with at most a year of college, and the less schooling you've got, the more you've been affected.

And on the occupation side, as a number of your guests have indicated, this is overwhelmingly a blue-collar recession, where the job losses among production and construction workers, Neal I've never seen so severe. We're talking about 20 to 25 percent of the jobs have been lost since the beginning of the recession, and among our professional and management workers, the answer is zero.

CONAN: And when you say no net job losses, it doesn't mean people haven't lost their jobs. Some have, but other people have been hired.

Mr. SUM: That's correct. In other words, you've had losses in the financial sector that have been offset by gains of professionals in professional services and in health care and in education. But in the aggregate, up until now, we've had no net job loss among the nation's professional management workers in the country.

CONAN: And in terms of the ethnic breakdown?

Mr. SUM: The ethnic breakdown follows along the gender lines, but the group that has been most adversely affected, I said it's a great irony because here we have elected the first African-American male president of the United States, and at the same time, nine percent of all black men in this country have lost their job in the recession, which is far greater than that of any other recession. There's 11 recessions we've had since the end of World War II.

In every race, ethnic group, it's been a predominately male phenomenon but most intense among black males and then Hispanic and white males.

CONAN: Yet from reading your statistics, African-American females are doing well.

Mr. SUM: Up until February, Neal, there was no net job loss. The last two months, a number of black women have lost their job, but the number that have done so is under two percent versus the nine percent for black men. The gender disparity is overwhelmingly greatest among black workers.

CONAN: And this - does this accord with what you're seeing in terms of media coverage and perceptions of this crisis?

Mr. SUM: I would say with the exception of Steven Greenhouse's coverage, which has been more in line, the national media have given a very misrepresentative view of what's going on.

Most of the shows and most of the examples, the late-night shows and on the national news network, the particular individual that is so - that we concentrate on is the manager, the professional worker, the individual laid off on Wall Street. Those individuals are just not at all typical of what exactly the profile of job-losers in this country look like, and you seldom see anybody under 25 on any of those shows.

CONAN: Andrew Sum, thanks for your time today.

Mr. SUM: Thank you very much.

CONAN: Andrew Sum, professor of economics and director of the Center for Labor Market Studies at Northeastern University, with us by phone from Worcester, Massachusetts.

And let's get Elizabeth(ph) on the line, Elizabeth calling us from St. Louis.

ELIZABETH (Caller): Hi, Neal, how are you?

CONAN: I'm well, thank you.

ELIZABETH: Well, I live actually outside of St. Louis, and we've been extremely hard-hit in the construction industry, and as well as the automobile industry. St. Louis is sort of a place where there's a lot of automobile industries, and we have a GM plant in Wentzville, and so we're sort of uncertain about that.

CONAN: Everybody who works for any of the big three has got to be really uncertain at this point.

ELIZABETH: That's right, and it is really interesting because it has an effect across the community in that, you know, businesses, you know, restaurants and small businesses are going out of business because there's not the people able to support it. The money isn't there in the communities anymore.

CONAN: Steve Greenhouse, that's the ripple effect that we hear so much about.

Mr. GREENHOUSE: Yes. When an auto plant closes or cuts back on jobs, then the auto parts plants might have to shut down production, and the Teamsters who drive, you know, finished, assembled cars from one city to another, they might be laid off, and the person, you know, the waitress in the restaurant across the street, she might be laid off because the restaurant doesn't have as many auto workers coming in for lunch.

So there really is a ripple effect. You know, the nation has lost one-million manufacturing jobs over the past six months, which is pretty startling, and actually we've lost - just this decade, you know, we've lost five-million manufacturing jobs, nearly 30 percent of the nation's manufacturing jobs.

So I think we've been having this manufacturing crisis not just since the recession began in December, 2007, but really this whole decade, our manufacturers have been suffering and millions of workers laid off, and only now, you know, a year into the recession, is the nation really starting to focus on what can we do to really revive manufacturing.

It probably would have been much wiser if we had started focusing on that five or six years ago.

CONAN: And it's interesting. You talk about two or three years down the road, maybe recovery is under way, but does anybody expect that the manufacturing sector, at least in the industries that we're talking about with Elizabeth, the car business, is going to be anywhere near the size it used to be?

Mr. GREENHOUSE: I think it will be smaller. You know, I've debated with people whether the American automakers will even survive. I think they will survive if the Obama administration and, you know, the managers of the companies get start, stay smart.

Clearly, the industry has made many mistakes. You know, its costs are out of line with the Japanese automakers. Clearly the transplants like Honda and Toyota are doing pretty well, quite well in the U.S. And I think once Detroit -the Detroit automakers get their cost in line and start producing some - well, they already produced some reliable attractive cars, but they really have to start producing more reliable attractive cars.

I think they can succeed again. And they really are way behind the times in producing, you know, non-gas guzzlers. And they really have to develop some very smart cars that will attract a lot of Americans. And if that happens, if our domestic auto industry really revives, that will help our steel industry, that'll help our rubber industry, that'll help many, many other industries. And that could really create its own positive ripple effect.

CONAN: Elizabeth, we can only hope that hits you soon in St. Louis.

ELIZABETH: Absolutely. And there's one other thing is it not only has the ripple effect, but in my case I lost my job in a different industry, actually, conservation, but the way that I find people are coping are they're changing their lifestyles and, sort of, expectations. And it's a lot more easier to be optimistic when you're able to sort of change and take what comes along, and do project work and adapt a little bit to the situation and not expect that great job right there on the horizon, at least not in the next couple of weeks.

CONAN: Elizabeth, good luck to you.

ELIZABETH: Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye. Here's an email from Carl(ph) in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Libraries are in a unique position. We are busier in tough times, but our patrons don't pay us directly. And we often suffer from belt-tightening in local government. The upshot is that we end up doing more with less, to an even greater extent, than usual. Now let's see if we can get another caller on the line. And let's go to Sarah(ph). Sarah with us from Kalkaska in Michigan.

SARAH (Caller): Hi, how are you?

CONAN: Good, thanks.

SARAH: I'm calling - my husband six years ago lost his job in manufacturing for the auto industry. So six years ago I knew things were not good. And then he switched over to local government, and he's a DPW worker and they just cut his job. And…

CONAN: DPW, Department of Public Works?

SARAH: Correct. And his job down to part time, so we've lost our benefits, health care benefits. And so my kids no longer have health insurance. It's just kind of been a rough deal with that.

CONAN: Are you working, Sarah?

SARAH: Yes. I just left - I worked at a hospital for 13 years and I just left -because, you know, he had a good job, it was secure, I thought, and I left to become a medical sales rep with no insurance. And I started that in July. And then we just found this all out last month. So…


SARAH: Yeah.

CONAN: And how's the…

SARAH: And the hospital that I used to work at isn't hiring anymore. They're on a hiring freeze, so it's just not good.

CONAN: Oh boy. Sarah, good luck.

SARAH: Thank you.

CONAN: Okay. We're talking with people and asking how the people around them are being affected by the loss of jobs in this country, 5.1 million thus far in this particular crisis. As Steve Greenhouse, our guest from The New York Times has pointed out this has been an accumulating effect, especially in the manufacturing industry.

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

Let's go to Pat. Pat with us from Charlotte.

PAT (Caller): Oh, hello, Neal.

CONAN: Hi, Pat.

PAT: Thanks for taking my call. I wanted to share with you something that has happened to my daughter, speaking of how this has affected families. She has been in the banking industry for nine years. And as you know, Charlotte is a huge banking industry. She was laid off a week before Christmas and was very confident that she would be able to find another job. She realized, probably along in February, banking is not going to be in her future. She applied for unemployment at that time and has been receiving unemployment.

But what she has done, being very optimistic, she has decided she has always wanted to work for a nonprofit, made too much money as a banker, could turn around and go backwards. But now she is volunteering her time. She volunteers about 20 hours a week at a nonprofit here in Charlotte. And she's receiving enough unemployment to sort of live on, roof over her head and food on the table, that she is hopeful that when this economy does turn around, that she will possibly get a job in - at the nonprofit that she's volunteering at. So I applaud her for doing that.

CONAN: I think we all applaud her. And we hope her timing works out. It could be tricky.

PAT: Well, it could be very tricky. And - but I've got to tell you, she even emailed President Obama earlier this week to thank him and all of his people because she is a homeowner and is - has had her house listed since she lost her job and has been very concerned that she would go in foreclosure. But the government has been very helpful in reducing her house payment for her. And so she will be able to hang on a little bit longer.

But the point of my call, though, is that it is a terrible, terrible situation, but I do believe we have to keep our optimism that things are going to get better.

CONAN: Pat, thank you very much. And we're all with you on that last point.

PAT: Okay. Thank you.

CONAN: Bye-bye.

PAT: Bye-bye.

CONAN: And Steve Greenhouse, we have heard some of the - the president and the head of the Federal Reserve here in Washington, D.C. saying some glimmers - a long way off yet, but some glimmers. I don't think anybody who heard you when we first discussed this on this program say that you feared for your country will forget that. How are you feeling now?

Mr. GREENHOUSE: I still worry. We've fallen a long way since I was first on the show, you know, four or five months ago when I said I feared for the country, we've, you know, dropped a good bit. I, you know, we clearly see some glimmers of hope right now, but I think most economists will say that we're still going to slide down somewhat further, but maybe we'll just be sliding somewhat more slowly than before.

And I think the question is whether the beginning of a turnaround, the so-called robins on the lawn, you know, will be there in three months, in six months and nine months. Let's hope it's three months, not nine months or a year.

One point I want to make to Pat and also to the aerospace engineer who called before is, you know, one could look for alternative fields of work. And it's nice that Pat's daughter is doing foundation work. And for the aerospace engineer, now the nation is in crying need for good science teachers. So if you can't get a job right now in aerospace, maybe become a teacher. Maybe Pat's daughter should become a math teacher. We desperately need good math teachers.

And I think, you know, the government stimulus program should be creating several million jobs, health jobs, you know, senior care jobs, environmental jobs, green jobs. So hopefully there'll be some jobs - some good jobs out there soon.

CONAN: Steve Greenhouse, thanks as always.

Mr. GREENHOUSE: Thanks very much, Neal.

CONAN: Steven Greenhouse with us from our bureau in New York. He's a labor and workplace correspondent for The New York Times, author of "The Big Squeeze: Tough Times for the American Worker."

Coming up, for 50 years, Strunk and White's "Elements of Style" has shined like a grammatical jewel. We'll talk to a linguist who says, eh, not so much. Stay with us. It's the TALK OF THE NATION from NPR News.

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