U.S. Unemployment Is At A 50-Year Low. But Not Everybody's A Winner


This message comes from on points sponsor indeed. If you're hiring with indeed, you can post a job in minutes. Set up screener questions, then zero in on your shortlist of qualified candidates using an online dashboard. Get started at indeed dot com slash NPR podcast. From NPR WB. You are Boston, I'm magnetized party, and this is on point unemployment is near a fifty year low and we're at what economists call full employment. Meaning everyone who wants a job can have one and the jobless rate is also at historic lows for both Hispanics and African Americans something President Donald Trump touted again on his biggest stage of the year. The two thousand nineteen state of the union back in February African American Hispanic American and Asian American unemployment have all reached their lowest levels ever recorded. But not everyone's a winner in this economy and not everyone's celebrating. There are faultlines here cracks and fissures things like slow wage growth or unequal, wages in equal jobs, Courtney herring worked at the colour distribution center in eastern, Wisconsin for years before learning. Many of her colleagues doing exactly the same work made twice as much as she did it really did open. My eyes to see what was really happening. And how much of an opportunity is actually missing compared to what I thought I was getting it made me realize, oh man. This is a huge gap will all this week. NPR has a special series of reports, taking an in-depth look at what full employment means in the lives of real people in this hour on point who wins and who loses in a strong labor market, and you can join us what does the job market look like for you where you are. Are you finding the work you want or are the wages, not keeping up with what you need? Join us anytime at one point radio dot org, or on Twitter and Facebook at on point radio. We'll join yesterday from Washington is Scott Horsley NPR's chief economics, correspondent, he's one of the lead reporters on this new series from NPR about full employment and you can find a link to his piece, headlined America is in full employment. So why aren't we celebrating that link is at on point radio dot org? Scott, welcome to on point and a great grid booth. You is really great to have you. So first of all, set the stage here for us a little bit. I mean when we say, full employment, what are we talking about? Exactly, how good is the job market right now. The job market, if you look at the country, as a whole is, is very good as you as you mentioned, the unemployment rate, the macro unemployment rates near fifty year low the lowest it's been in generations. There are obviously regional variations. There are educational variations not everybody's sharing in that, but we wanted to kind of look behind those numbers and say, what does it mean when we have a job market that the that's that strong? What does it mean for employers who are struggling to find good workers? What does it mean for workers who may be found some? Restoration of the bargaining power that they lost over the years. An ability to command, higher wages or, or better, working conditions, and so my colleagues on the business Eskenazi sort of fanned out around the country to, to try to tell some of those stories all this week, and they're absolutely fascinating and we're going to focus in this hour on sort of two aspects of this reporting that the union colleagues have done. We'll talk about two tier Wade systems and the employment situation for Hispanics and African Americans. But, but Scott, I just wanted to get a little more sense from you about a third part here. Just because I can't because it's so fascinating about how the unemployment rate is so low in certain places that employers simply cannot find the workers they need. I mean you, you into Ames Iowa where we're employers are just hungering for for folks to fill job. What's going on in Ames? Well, actually, it was my colleague, Jim zarroli, who, who went, okay? I spent a good deal of time there, myself, though, so I can certainly attest to the, to the strong job market throughout Iowa, even with some of the troubles that they've been having in their agricultural sector with low crop prices. And of course, this spring with some real severe flooding as well. But in general, the Iowa economy is, is very strong and the job market is very strong in places like aims, which is a very nice college town about an hour north of or maybe less than an hour north of the capital. The moines. One one thing that is happening is folks are just not moving tile in large numbers. In fact, the state population has has really been kind of stagnant. And even though there's this very strong job, magnet people around the country are not saying, hey, let's pick up and move to Ames Iowa. And so the sort of market forces that you would expect to level out those variations in in unemployment. Rates aren't necessarily coming to work. The same thing is true in Sheboygan, Wisconsin, where I went and talked with according to herring at the at the colour factory there. The unemployment rate in Sheboygan is around two and a half percent higher. The names, but still well below the national average and yet folks are not just itching to move to, to the, the edge of the Great Lakes there in Wisconsin. I don't know why it's a very nice place to live. Maybe it's the cold winters. They've tried to market. The city is, you know. Malibu of the midwest, but even though it's gotten positive rankings as a great place for millennials to come and set up set up a home and start a family. They're not necessarily attracting population. And so when they do have a successful company successful business, they struggle to find workers. So first of all, let me apologize to our colleague, gyms zero. For for asking you about one of his stories. There's sorry about that. Jim, my deep apologies, but Scott tell us more about instable you, what's, what specifically is going on there. That's that's created such a great job market, and we'll talk about why people aren't moving there in a in a second. But why is economy so healthy there in terms of Wisconsin, as a whole has, has long been a pretty manufacturing intensive state, they've had more manufacturing than than many states around the country? And the Kohler company is an example of that. This is a company that's been in business for almost a century and a half there along the Cheboygan river, it started as a iron, foundry making farm equipment, and then morphed into bathtubs and kitchen fixtures. The kind of thing that the colour names, probably best known for today, but they also make other products, they make engines for lawn mowers and snowblowers, and that sort of thing, so they have a pretty big industrial base. There's. Out of other industry in the area. There's Johnson Ville sausage companies in Cheboygan sergeant. Oh cheese has a factory there. So Koehler was competing for factory labor with a number of other companies in the area. And if, if you go back to the recession back in two thousand ten colour had adopted this two tier wage structure, which was not uncommon at the time when, when the economy was in freefall where they were saying, well, we're gonna keep paying our existing workers. What they're being what they've been making what they're accustomed to making. But for anybody we hire on, now they're going to come in at a much lower wage lower benefits, all kinds of challenges. And you know, even though it was a unionized workforce. The, the economy at that time in two thousand ten was was so weak. The unions would of had to grudgingly, swallow this and now they've been trying for nearly a decade to kind of whittle away at that. It. And they finally succeeded in late twenty eighteen at getting a new contract that does effectively does away with that two tiered wage scale the same thing happened with the big three automakers. They had agreed to a two-tiered wage scale back in the recession they've been chipping away at it as the economy has improved, and they're coming into new negotiations. This fall, the big three automakers with the UAW and the UAW hopes to accelerate the the phase out. Well, that's why that's exactly why I think this NPR series is so important, right? Because when we broadly talk about, you know, low unemployment numbers, were speaking about average is right in the average is always, conceal what you're talking about the these strong regional variations and the stories within the stories of, of those numbers in, in the case of these two ways not only regional variations, but, you know, on the same factory floor people doing the same job and younger workers, typically younger workers newer, workers, making making considerably less than their more senior colleagues and. And, you know, unionized labor is a is a shrinking set of the overall workforce. But this is just kind of indicative of worker bargaining power in general. And when you know, when unemployment is at ten percent, workers don't have a lot of bargaining power. You would think with unemployment at three point six percent. Nationally two point five percent in Cheboygan one and a half percent. Aims workers would have the power to say if you want me to do this job, I'm going to have to pay me a little bit more. And, and to some extent. We're seeing that, well, actually just want to listen to a clip here of tape. This is George Cooper, who drives a truck for colour and he got his job. There are a couple of years ago after the great recession had more or less faded, not faded away. But at least faded from its peak any found that the two tiered contract locked in lower wages as you were saying Scott compared to other drivers doing the same work, and Courtney herring, who we mentioned before, who works in the distribution center, and has been at Kohler for seven years, also saw that friction as well as. We're being asked to do the same level of work for less. So we'll hear both of them in this clip didn't matter. How long I was there? I was never going reached that same peak plateau that they did. And you end up having your clicks because all their tier a and we're here be, and we shouldn't do the same type of work day would just tell you flat out. Well, why should I do the same amount orcas that teary to spend their twenty years? Well, so Scott Horsely stand by here for just a second because I want to turn now to Alexia cool wick. She's joining us from Madison, Wisconsin. She's a professor in the school for workers at the university of Wisconsin. Former lead attorney for the service employees, international union local one in Chicago, Alexa, cool, whick, will welcome to you. Hi there. Thanks so much for having me. Great to have you. So first of all, you mean you heard Scott Horsely there and his reporting talking about how yes we have this very like rock bottom unemployment level right now unemployment rate. But even with on the same factory floor, for example, because of these two tiered. Leads systems in some places. We're seeing a big disparity in wages. I mean how long has that been going on? Well, we've seen two tier wage systems in place. Really as we've seen union power decline. So he I saw big wave of two-tiered wage systems come into place in the nineteen eighties. And I think that Scott's reference to the recession two thousand eight two thousand ten we started seeing even more of these two two tier wage systems. So what we've seen is even if when we're down at low employment that doesn't necessarily mean that wages of kept up or that health benefits and pension benefits have kept up to benefit the workers, and Scott was saying, though, as we have, you know, this very hot labour-market does that translate into potential potentially more power for four labor for union if their workers are in such high demand. I think it certainly has potential for unions, and their workers to obtain better. Benefits in this time of lower unemployment, colder, was a really great example. I think that though you can't change things overnight. So we we're back in better. Konomi today. In Scott said these wages have been put into place in a collective bargaining agreement so by contract. Now they're already settled and once you've given something away at the bargaining table in collective bargaining. It's very, very difficult to get that back. And so having given it up in the recession workers are trying to improve things, but it's very difficult. Well, we are talking about what this in full employment economy, actually looks like in the lives of real people. NPR's running a special series about all of this week, Scott Horsely NPR's chief economics, correspondent is with us and a Alexia cool whick professor in the school for workers at the university of Wisconsin. Also with us as well. We'll be right back. This is on point. This message comes from on points sponsor indeed when it comes to hiring, you don't have time to waste you need. Help getting to your shortlist of qualified candidates fast with indeed post a job in minutes set up screener questions, then zero in on qualified candidates. And when you need to hire fast, accelerate your results with sponsor jobs, new users can try for free when you sign up at indeed dot com slash NPR podcast. Terms, conditions, and quality standards apply. This is on point. I Meghna Choco bardy, we're talking this hour about what a full employment economy, looks like in the lives of real people. And when we talk about the historic low unemployment rate, what sort of variations in regional differences are being masked by that one, low average number NPR's running a special series about full employment all this week, and Scott Horsely joins us, he's NPR's chief economics correspondent. Alexia Kulik is also with us. She's a professor in the school for workers at the university of Wisconsin. And we want to hear from you. What is the employment situation looking like where you live? Are you an employer who's having trouble finding workers? Or are you someone who has exited the job market and is now trying to get back in? But the wages are too low to meet your needs Scott Horsely limitation back to you here for a second, and just as you tell us more about what the situation in Cheboygan, what eliminates for us in terms of how we better understand this, this full employment economy will again. It's, it's kind of a microcosm of the, the improved bargaining power. And in this case collective bargaining power that that workers have as a result of the strong, job market and low unemployment, but it's not, you know, consistent picture across the country, even in this environment. We've we saw for example, UPS just adopt a contract with the Teamsters that actually puts an anew two-tiered wage scale we saw the. The there was a General Electric locomotive factory in Erie, Pennsylvania that GE sold and the new owners, they're tried to impose a two tier wage scale just in this dispatched winter that prompted one of the first big industrial strikes of the, of the Trump era. And right now, that's kind of in limbo, the, the two sides are in mediated talk. So we'll see if the company's successful there in imposing two-tiered Wade scale, or if the union is successful in holding the line and saying, no. In this climate, we we're not gonna we're not going to go that route interesting Alexia Kulik, which to respond to that. Yeah. I think while we see increased bargaining power. I also think that kind of like I said before the break, it doesn't necessarily turn quickly. And so while I think that the example in Cheboygan was fantastic. I also think it was a little bit of a special case in that we are seeing a lot of workers around the country, not being able to influence and use that power to increase their wages. Benefits again, and that's true throughout Wisconsin, as well, as I think, other parts of the country and part of that has to do with the decrease in union density, and the loss of bargaining power that we've seen what I will say about the examples that were given the Teamster two-tiered wages that have just been put into place that has been very controversial, and it will be interesting to see how things go going forward because I think a lot of those members realized that we are in a better position in that shouldn't have been agreed to, oh, his Teamsters membership actually voted against it. But because of some wrinkles in the, the way the votes are tallied. And they needed to they needed a supermajority reject the contract. And so they it, it has gone into force Alexia when you say union density though, specific what do you mean by that? Yeah. I mean so in Wisconsin, the private sector density, is down to about six point seven percent throughout the state throughout the country. Of course we're below ten percent. Probably about seven something in terms of how. How many people are within the workplace are members of a union, and therefore able to engage in collective bargaining over the terms and conditions of their employment? I see well, actually just want to hear a little bit more from Courtney haring, Scott, you talked to her, she worked, and the colour distribution center for the past seven years. We heard her a little earlier in the show about the, the difficulties around that two tiered wage system, but she says the mood has improved on the factory floor since new contract with sign and now she can envision being at Kohler for the long run, you could tell there was a lot of happy, people, a lot of them production went up. People are wanting to stay for more overtime because they know it's worth their time now. I was still don't go in factory. Don't go in a factory. You're not going to have a life there. If feels like I do. And I'm getting somewhere. So I could see myself being here for my career my family's been in it for at least forty plus years. So I like to kind of continue that tradition. That's courtney. Haring who's worked in the colour distribution center for the past seven years. Alexia cool. We ask you about once again, there's this. There's a big difference between what the numbers extensively save versus what people are experiencing in, in their real lives, and in Courtney there. We heard a sense of, of relief and security that she hadn't felt before this new contract was signed. But, you know, given what you would you had been talking about regarding union unions. Overall reduction in power and influence over the past forty years. I mean, what's it gonna take to get that same sense of, of security for other workers? Yeah, that's a great question. And I think, again, the colour strike and Cheboygan is a great example of what it takes what it takes is more engagement from more workers to participate in acting collectively to try to improve those wages and benefits and what we saw in Sheboygan. We haven't touched on is that the workers went on. Strike to chip away at that two tier wage system and they head community behind them. So, you know, people in the community were supportive of the worker's plight. And the workers were very strong in going on strike, and exerting power to, to be able to influence the collective bargaining agreement, and that in turn had an influence in what colour agreed to, and I think because of the overall loss of union density. And I'll just say here in Wisconsin. We've seen a legislative attack on workers with in the public sector in two thousand eleven and right to work in two thousand fifteen workers are pretty demoralized and it's, it's difficult to exert that collective power that they really do have when they come together like the workers at Kohler did Scott just dumping here because I'm wondering if you heard that from workers in your reporting. And I imagine that eve even as good as the job market is now are people still wondering what's going to happen when the next downturn comes because that's. An inevitability eventually. Well, absolutely. And I mean, we're, we're almost ten years into this economic expansion now but if you ask most Americans, do you feel like you've been gaining ground for ten years. They'll say no, they might feel like they've been gaining ground may be the last year, maybe the last couple of years, or maybe they don't even feel like they're, they're gaining ground yet. The scars of the great recession are deep and long lasting. You know, when, when colour initially imposed a two-tier weight scale back in two thousand ten there was a strike vote, and the, the workers at that time were not willing to take take the gamble of going on strike. They did strike in two thousand fifteen narrow narrow the gap between the two tiers and then they got the the, the new contract just late last year. And, you know, that's, that's the collective bargaining picture. But you can it's kind of a little bit indicative of what happens on an individual level, when you when you had individual workers who weren't necessarily represented by union debating, do I settle for. Whatever the company is offering do. I maybe accept a pay cut during tough times. Or do I say, look, I'm going to demand a pay raise and go elsewhere? You're finally starting to see more quits. That's something, the government tracks. How many people are quitting their job? Meaning they feel confident enough to go out and either find another job or because they already have another job. The quit rate has gone up, and that's a signal that more people are feeling the freedom to, to go out there and try the waters a little bit. But that's that was a long time in coming after they're very, very painful recession. Well, let's take a quick, call his go to Pam who's calling from Williamsburg, Virginia. Pam you're on the air. I worked for the airline had a two year, wait system. They are line never recovered from that employees, three unionized groups pilots flight, attendants mechanics, they are still suffering onto the recession and trying to get back those benefits and pay it'll never happen. I'm now with the school system. I'm astonished at how pay is particularly in southern region. City Newport News Hampton. The pay alone the cost of living has gone up there is no way to make a living wage, and it seems to me that a culture of poverty is being created. I see it in the school system. And I don't know if anything's ever going to be done to which reps bat. Right. We'll pam. Thank you so much for your call. Alexia kulik. Did you? Respond to her share. I mean, I, I absolutely agree. I think the way she laid out that dilemma was very articulate and the thing that I also wanna point out as even was we see so wages have been stagnant across the board. Right. If we if we look at two thousand seventeen dollars wages for manufacturing in Wisconsin have gone up about one dollar since nineteen eighty but what's also happened in that time period, is workers are paying more for their health insurance. They don't have the defined benefit pension plans that they used to. And so we're so far behind that trying to make those in inroads, and making those improvements is extraordinarily difficult. And, and so I agree. I think, you know, coming together and acting collectively poses one potential, although I think the caller is absolutely right. That once once you've given something up in that collective bargaining process. It's extremely extremely difficult to regain that in to recapture the, the benefits that we used to have so in term. Of the culture or the creating an atmosphere of poverty. We've certainly have much more inequality in this country than we used to. And it's something that I think both individuals and policymakers needed to pay attention to well, Alexia, cool whick professor in the school for workers at the university of Wisconsin. Thank you so much for joining us today. Thanks so much for having me. We'll Scott we were talking about a two tiered wage structures in a lot of workplaces but another major part of NPR's special series about a full employment economy has to do with the differences in jobless rates that we're seeing amongst Hispanics and African Americans versus white Americans here, and we should say, though, that African American unemployment is also at historic low right now even though it's still significantly much higher than for white workers. However, doing speech in hack berry Louisiana just last week, promoting energy infrastructure and economic growth. The president again, talked about record low. Employment numbers, and he says it's going to be a campaign signature forum in twenty twenty. So let's say I'm on the debate stage. We start talking, and I say, well, you know, we have the lowest rate ever. For African American Asian Hispanic all I have to say that woke off the stage. I guess you win the debate who's going to beat your that in the history of our country. The best unemployment rates. That's the president in Louisiana last week. Scott, just briefly. How different is the unemployment rate for Hispanic and African Americans versus white Americans, will they've all been coming down, but the African American unemployment rate is six point seven percent. That is still more than twice the rate for white Americans. And so it's you know it's a glass, half full or half empty. It's, it's certainly a smaller gap than we've seen in the past, but it's, it's still a pretty high unemployment rate for African Americans, and they're certainly regional and educational variations that, that make that rate a lot higher in different different areas. I don't think the president is probably going to win a whole lot more support from African Americans in his reelection bid and twenty two. Then he did in two thousand sixteen at argument is probably a more at suburban whites to sort of convince them that some of his policies are, are you neutral towards African Americans or or whatnot, but he, he has certainly bragged, a lot about of falling unemployment rates among both African Americans and Latinos, regardless of what his policies may be. And, and I'm sure I'm sure continue to do. So right through twenty twenty. Well, Scott, hang on here for a second, because Andre Perry joins us. Now, also from Washington. He's a fellow at the metropolitan pulsa program at the Brookings Institution, his research, focuses on race and structural, inequality, education and economic inclusion, and he's author of the forthcoming book. No, your price valuing, black lives and property in America's black cities. That'll come out in January Andre Perry. Welcome to you. Thanks for having me, it's great to have you. So, you know, this hour we're trying to vault off of NPR's series here. To take us behind this number of historically, low black unemployment. What do you see in that in that six point seven percent that scarves, told him? I'll tell you what if you're black, and in your in your in Baltimore or in Chicago, you don't see full employment you see a recession historically. The black unemployment rate is has always been about twice that of the white rate. And so the, the, the rhetoric around full employment really math. What's going on at the city level, we, we have a inordinate amount of data that show, particularly when you're looking at employers, and their call backs for for employees. They do not call back black. Am potential workers at the same rate at White's? We've known that there's employment discrimination discrimination at all levels those who, who are. Highly educated those who are in need of, of an education. So the, the, the idea of full employment has never am Inc. Black work rates in a way that would address the structural reasons why they're not absorbed in, in, in the economy. It's tell us more about e you started talking about some of those structural reasons. But, but tell us more is it? I don't want to say is it a simple because nothing is simple. But you're talking about callback rates is it about who are the employers as well? Absolutely. I mean, that, you know, at a very basic level the unemployment rates reflect who's being hired. So you can't ignore that, but you also cannot ignore a bias criminal Justice system that really throttled black men and black women's ability to get the skills to, to get into Connie. And you also can't discount. The, the wealth gap know that how we how we build businesses or create businesses largely come from our ability to leverage, the equity on our homes and blacks have been denied. That two blacks, also have not had the ability to create the, the jobs themselves in the manner, that white people I'm having in the past, so but at its core bull. Blacks are not hired at the same rates and they are hired to essentially service white growth. And that's where the this, the rhetoric of full employment re really hides that win whites or are getting jobs in managerial positions, getting benefit blacks are working, but they're the Uber and lift drivers. They're working in the convenience stores. They're not getting the kind of benefits that will that, that they can use to build. Wealth and longevity with their families. And so it's long as we keep saying that we're in a state of full employment without recognizing the wage differences, the benefit differences, who's who's really benefiting from this economy. We're all we're going to just reinforce structural inequality in this country. We've got about thirty seconds before just take a quick break here. But there you said a lot, and I want to dig into a bunch of it. But let me just ask you though, even given all you said. I mean as Scott was saying earlier the rate at which the, the unemployment rate is falling falling for African Americans is, is, is pretty significant. That's gotta be some good news. Well there with the other there, another time we were at full employment. Blacks were and wasn't a good thing. So we got to look at the full picture, and I'm referencing slavery, obviously. But we gotta look at the full picture. All right. Well, we'll take a bigger look at that full picture when we come back. So Andre Perry, and Scott Horsely stand by here for just a second. We're talking about. NPR series all this week about what a full employment economy, really looks like in the lives of real people. And we want to hear from you. We'll be right back. This is on point. Nineteen sixty five a darkened street corner in Selma Alabama and a murder. A new podcast exposes the lies that kept this murder from being solved and explores memory myth and accountability for a crime at the heart the civil rights movement from NPR white lies. Listen and subscribe, now, this is on point, a mega Chakrabarti. We're talking this hour about what a full employment economy, looks like in the lives of real people. NPR's running a special series all this week about exactly this. And Scott Horsely is with us this hour. He's NPR's chief economics. Correspondent Andrea Perry is also with us as well as a fellow at the metropolitan policy program at the Brookings Institution and Scott before the break, you're hearing Andre talk about how the, the benefits of full employment economy. He says haven't at all yet reached the African American community. What did you find in your reporting? Well, that's consistent with something Mark morale of the urban league told me years ago, which was he said black America's like the caboose. On a train, and when the train speeds up the caboose speeds up, but it's still the caboose and that's what we've seen. Yes. The unemployment rate among African Americans has has come down from where it was during the, the recession just as it has for other groups, but it is still considerably elevated, relative to the national average. And you know, when, when hundred Perry talks about the wealth, gap and not being able to leverage the equity in your home. I mean, the recession was disastrous. The subprime mortgage crisis was disastrous for the whole country, but especially for African American home ownership. And so that's that's a that's a big scar. That is very difficult to recover from my colleague NPR, Danielle Czeslaw did a story for our series where she visited Charlotte, North Carolina, which is one of the sort of southern success story cities, that have been attracting, newcomers and among African Americans, there's been sort of a reversal of the twentieth, century, great migration from south north, now, you're seeing african-amer. Moving from north to south oftentimes for blower. Home prices, lower cost of living overall, and in some cases job opportunities as well. And so you her story focused on, on the picture in Charlotte, North Carolina, where there has been an influx of sort of middle class African Americans who are finding job opportunities in Charlotte, but that's not necessarily helping the native African American population. So there's still a core within the city that has very elevated unemployment. Well, we had a little bit of tape here from exactly the story. This is thirty two year old Brittany Smith. He's African American group. In Detroit, six years ago really struggled to find a fulltime job in healthcare in Detroit, and her then boyfriend and now husband worked at a college campus that was closing. So they moved to Charlotte here. I am a transplant that come has come down here enough taken advantage of all these opportunities. Now, some of it may be due to. I have, you know, an education and same from a husband, but also. So it made me actually my husband and I to look at ways we can help, you know bridge, the gap. That's Brittany Smith, who moved to, to Charlotte. Andre perry. Is there a reverse great micro migration going on? Oh, absolutely, particularly among a millennial who are black blacks are moving to the south, they're going to Charlotte. They're going to Atlanta, they're going to places where they have a cultural link to. So it's not just about jobs, which, which it is a major driver. It is also about going home, finding a sense of security, cultural security, and that might seem ironic that some because a lot of people feel that the, the south is racists. And, and in many instances, it is. But there are community communities in the south that blacks have found ways to empower themselves politically economically and so, yeah, I see it every day. And but it's. Also is bared out in the numbers. Well, you know, we have a lot of callers who want to have their say. So let me welcome them in here. Let's go to George who's calling from Richmond Virginia Georgia on the air. All right. Thank you so much. So I just wanna give kinda my perspective kind of boots on the ground. I'm an entrepreneur, I have technology business very busy. I have friends in multiple verticals across the city automobile repair shops. Breeze restaurants and, and they're all very busy to again. The one thing that we noticed is. Yes, barging in his there, but only if it's the right person with the right skills that really has a vision for the company and how to help move the company forward. So I would say that, that the struggle is, as somebody that hires is finding the right people, but there's definitely people out there. It's just always wanted to get the right people because we don't want to go through the turnover. Alternatively segue off the last comment. Richmond is, is a southern city. It's had some issues with race well-known throughout the civil war. But we too are seeing a. Movement of African Americans from up north, and from the west to Richmond, as well as we're seeing African Americans who come here to go to college not leaving once they graduate and actually participating in, in trying to reroute themselves in, in a place in which their history was routed. So I think I think there's a lot from any perspective. One thing I would like to say is while it's amazing that, that colour and Wisconsin has such great manufacturing. My family is from south West Virginia martinsville and we have a twenty percent plus unemployment rate. So while it's great incidents and emergencies. And, and in places that have plan themselves strategically to grow. Well, there's still places that are very, very hurt by trade agreements that happened twenty years ago even before the recession, and how do we get the skills, and how do we get the motivation back into those people. So that people in the rural areas rule manufacturing, how do we how do we get them back into the game? Also. Well, George, thank you so much fear. Call Scott Horsley meet just turn back to you on that, because this is absolutely a, a major underlying issue here when you were talking about variations before sure Andrea sherr. He's been talking about, for example, in some urban areas. There are pockets where there might be a very high unemployment rate there, certainly rural communities, where that's also the case one of the highest unemployment rates in the country is the imperial valley in California, rural agricultural area. Likewise, Yuma, Arizona has a very high unemployment rate. So there is absolutely variation that, that three point six aggregate number for the country masks, a whole lot of area in both positively, as in places like Ames and in places says Ville, and I and I have to mention that the last caller mentioned about finding the right people. Yeah, no in particularly with the. Tech industry that typically translate into white men, there is this, a proliferation of the bro culture? You hear about a lot, but we need to work on that because if we're ever going to solve this problem of having these economic disparities that are consistent over time we have to have employers, trust people who don't look like them and and get past this notion of finding the right person because that is just fraught with this too much air. Well, the one thing that we are looking at, in our in our series is how the, the generally low unemployment rate across the country has created opportunities for people who might have been marginalized in the past employers, in some cases, have grown more creative and are more willing to look pass things that would have been disqualifying in the past, for example, people with a disability might have a better chance of finding. A work now and an employer who will make some accommodations in order to to employ them, and we have a story in our series about a former prisoners, who are who are finding job opportunities that may or may not be the disqualifier that it once was. But of course, the flip side is some employers may say it's too hard to find people. I'm going to invest in technology. I'm going to automate this job that I used to have somebody doing. And, and we see that as well in places where unemployment's very low. Well, Andrea Perry, eliminate let me turn back to you on something because given what, what we just discussed and earlier, we're talking about how African Americans Hispanic people of color gen- genuinely in your words, you were saying that when the economy expands, they're doing work for white managers. But I wonder I mean aren't the very same things that are driving major changes in our economy, the continuing flat lining of union membership shift towards gig work in a lot of sectors. These are these are things that are affecting. Everyone and then you can the argument disproportionately affecting people of color. But, but given if, if that's the case if every if almost all workers are more vulnerable now than they ever have been for. How do we how do we close? The gaps that already exist one, if we're going to have have to accept this inequality across race and region because you're absolutely right. Poor white folks in rural communities are struggling then we're really going to have to talk about the social safety net that really impacts people in urban and rural areas. I'm talking about work guarantee. I'm talking about health care higher. Ed, there's going to have to be an expansion of the social safety net. If if low or high unemployment numbers are a given for particular races, and particu. Regions. Well, let's get more callers in here. Let's go to JoAnne calling from tamarac, Florida. John, you're on the air. Hi. I just wanted to say that I make a decent living. However, I still find it difficult to keep up with the rising cost of living. I mean, along with the increased healthcare costs homeowners insurance taxes. It's one thing to be employed. I think it's a whole different thing to get a good living wage, and I feel that corporations these days, they're making billions and it's just not don't prophets of just not being passed down to the average working individual. We measure our growth by our savings. And the average person we just can't seem to put the threat together to be able to, you know, live comfortably and say, forget, putting your kids through college. So what is the solution? And what are the corporations doing? To pass down those profits to the average work of because I say you're implied, but your paycheck, is small right doing thank you so much for your call. I mean, Scott. This seems to be right at the heart of the headline of your of your first story here is America's in full full employment. So why aren't we celebrating JoAnne? I think echoes the feelings of a lot of Americans why why they're not celebrating. Right. And, you know, when we talk about inflation that sort of measures the, the rise in the price of consistent basket of goods over time. But one of the things your your guest Alexi was talking about was the say the shifting of some costs from an employer onto workers. Whether it's you know, they're having a shoulder, a higher share of their healthcare cost. Or maybe they're, they're the employers old contribution, their retirement has gone away or it's shifted from defined benefit to define contribution plan. Or, or maybe there's no retirement plan at all, Tim Taylor. Who's the the head? Of the union local in Cheboygan represented. Kohler workers who managed to chip away at the, the two tiered wage scale successfully last year. He says, you know this is about bargaining for it. Nobody gives it to you. The, the owners of corporations are not inclined to share anything with the work any, a penny more with the workforce, and they need to, to keep the workforce there. And so it's it is very much about how the economic pie is, is divvied up. And for much of this recovery a lot of the pie was going to the owners of the companies and, and now we are starting to see workers grabbing a little bit more. But it's it's, it's a it's you gotta grab. You know, and that's and that's about power. I mean that's about. That's a and whether that's you know, a a, a low unemployment rate is one way to boost workers. Bargaining power collective bargaining can be another the a lot of policy. Choices can can shape that as well. I'm going to make a plane here that workers are going to have to take back some of that wealth your you will see a rise in labor movements across the country. The, the, the strikes, the teacher strikes, in recent years, within the last year in red states. Tell a an interesting tale of what's going to happen, if those benefits of a strong, a quote unquote, strong economy aren't passed down to everyday workers, because, yes, we're talking about racial differences, and regional differences. But everyone is feeling the pinch of this Konami. That is not. Distributing resources equitably. Well, I mean to me, it just makes me think. Again, as we you know, we talk about this daily in the news are we doing a disservice by constantly, not talking about Scott's an NPR series because they're going in indepth here, but on a daily basis in the news, just throw out him unemployment numbers. And like we're not what good is understanding that number for not also understanding, the fundamental insecurities people feel even in this full employment market. And there's a reason why we bring on a communist and an and people who are in the ivory tower to talk about this stuff. Because in, in a small way, they're protecting that establishment of distributing information. Yes, we need to talk about wages, much more. We need to talk about regional differences. We need to talk about racial differences. We just can't throw out this blunt object of unemployment rate. It really doesn't make much sense when you're going to the ground and so I I'm. All four making sure that we project other points of the, the, the story because if we don't we're really doing the public disturbance NPR series, will you hear voices like Charlotte resident Nicole muse? Dennis, she's a single mom raising two daughters on a teacher salary. Sometimes, she works, sixty five hours a week, having taken a second job as a bar manager at night when I call over implied, I have two jobs, and I'm still just trying to make it in meet the needs at half for myself and my family. Let's Charlotte resident Nicole muse. Dennis Scott Horsely got about a minute left here to go just want to give you a shot at telling us a little bit more about what NPR series has in store for us. Well as you've ended up we are trying to go a little bit behind the, the headline numbers here, and look at a little bit more of the what that means in people's actual lives. What it means for their lifestyles, what the gains the very real gains for a lot of folks have been, but also some of the persistent fishers that have that have that were still wrestling with. Well, I'm really glad that the series is, is happening NPR because again, I do feel strongly that we report average numbers a lot. But there are extreme variances and a lot of real lives that are behind all those average numbers. So Scott Horsely NPR's chief economics correspondent, thank you so much for joining us. And thank you for the series as well. Scott, great to be with you and Andre Perry fellow at the metropolitan policy program at the Brookings Institution and author of the forthcoming book, no, your price valuing, black lives and property. In America's black cities. Andre perry. Thank you for being with us as well. Yep. Thank you. And listeners you can subscribe, by the way to the on point newsletter. Right. Our homepage good point radio dot org to subscribes. You'll get weekly messages from me, and my colleague, David Folkenflik are reading lists surveys and. A lot more. So check it out. It's our newsletter. And it's an on point radio dot org. I make the Tucker body. This is on point.

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