Where Did the Jobs Go, and How do We Get Them Back?

Scott Bittle and JEAN JOHNSON

There's nothing more fundamental to a decent life in America than having a job. Unemployment is the public's top concern and potentially the most damaging part of the Great Recession. Yet the political discussion about jobs is a morass of posturing, blame and ideology. Where Did the Jobs Go—and How Do We Get Them Back? Is a basic guide to the jobs issue written specifically for readers who aren't economists, financiers, business school professors or policy wonks working for think tanks. Designed to help readers sift through the political rhetoric for context and clarification, it offers ideas that aren't being raised by politicians, but which could be crucial to turning U.S. joblessness around.

But while the topic is serious, solving it doesn't have to be. Featuring chapters titled "Has American Lost Its Mojo?" and "Just the Facts, Ma'am," this book applies the same irreverent and winning approach that the authors, Jean Johnson and Scott Bittle, used in Where Does the Money Go? to explain the federal budget crisis. Jean and Scott cover proposals to create jobs from the political left, right and center—balancing the budget, cutting taxes, reducing bureaucracy, reviving manufacturing, improving education, starting a major national infrastructure project, closing the gap between rich and poor—as they help readers understand the risks, costs, benefits and trade-offs associated with each.

As we head into the 2012 elections, the U.S. is facing the worst jobs crisis since the Great Depression. Every candidate is talking jobs, but the debate is superficial and frankly, downright misleading. Voters deserve the chance to think more carefully about what it will take to create and preserve jobs here in the United States. This entertaining, nonpartisan primer on the nation's jobs crisis will help you and other American voters sort the facts from all the political spin and separate the myths and oversimplifications from reality.

Highlights from the book inlude:

  • Recovering from the 2008-2009 recession is just the beginning. The Great Recession cost us more than 8 million jobs, but we were in trouble even before then. The country lost as many jobs as it created during the 00s.
  • Recessions like this one leave long-lasting economic scars. Workers who lose their jobs during deep recessions slide down the economic ladder, and many never make up their losses. Young people who enter the workforce in a recession typically have lower incomes throughout their careers.
  • Plus, the country needs more jobs than ever just to keep up with population growth. According to government estimates, we’ll need jobs for some 167 million people by 2018, up from about 150 million today.
  • And then there’s technology and globalization. They have redefined how work is done, and even more importantly where it is done. Americans have long been worried about manufacturing jobs going overseas, but we've gone far beyond that. With the power of the Internet, American workers at every level face competition from workers worldwide.
  • In the past, education was a shield—the better educated you were, the more secure you were economically. But that's out of date. Even professional jobs can now be done overseas or replaced by technology. That includes lawyers, doctors—even economists
  • The political debate is way too narrow, centering almost exclusively on taxes, and it glosses right over the truly tough choices. What kinds of tax cuts really have the best track record on job creation? And given our massive budget deficits, will cutting taxes do more harm than good?
  • Thanks to movements like Occupy Wall Street and the Tea Party, ideas like reducing income inequality and controlling the country’s debt are front and center, and many people assume that addressing them will help on jobs. Both problems are real, and the country needs to talk about them, but it’s far from clear that solving either will do that much to help on jobs issue.
  • Jobs is and should be one of the very top issues in the 2012 presidential and Congressional campaigns, but Americans need to be more realistic about how much federal government can really do. Jobs are created by businesses, cities and states, and individuals’ own decisions and actions. Government can set the stage for job creation, but other parts of our society play major roles too.

Read What the Critics Have to Say

An evenhanded discussion and study guide on unemployment.
The authors intended to 'help voters sift through the political
rhetoric' to better understand and face the unemployment crisis.
Mission accomplished.

Kirkus Reviews

Scott Bittle and Jean Johnson have provided a thoroughly researched,
easy-to-read analysis of the jobs situation in America,
minus the hyperbole, political posturing, and invective
that’s been thrown around the public debates and airwaves recently.


...gives you and your relatives a quick, easy place to find thoroughly supported facts and figures on most of the details surrounding the jobs problem...
New York Journal of Books

***Buy The Book Now!***


Scott Bittle is an award-winning journalist, policy analyst and Web producer who has written extensively about the federal budget, energy, and foreign policy.

Jean Johnson writes frequently about public opinion and public policy and is the author of You Can't Do It Alone, a book on how parents, teachers, and students see education issues.

Both authors are senior fellows at Public Agenda and blog frequently for
The Huffington Post, National Geographic, and other outlets.

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