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tv   Inside Story  Al Jazeera  December 4, 2015 6:30pm-7:01pm EST

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>> every monday night. >> i lived that character. >> go one on one with america's movers and shakers. >> we will be able to see change. >> gripping... inspiring... entertaining. "talk to al jazeera". monday, 6:00 eastern. only on al jazeera america. >> >> the unemployment rate hit 10% in 2009 and hitting hitting 4% in 2007. the jobless rate has been cut in half, but nobody seems to be happy with tha that. have we so soured on the job market we don't know good news when we see it?
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we'll talk about that and more with our guest labor secretary thomas perez, "cup half empty." that's the "inside story. . >> welcome to "inside story". i'm ray suarez. remember 2008 and 2009. hundreds of thousands of americans were losing their jobs monday after painful month. what would have been a tepid post 9/11 recovery disappeared. businesses went belly up, millions lost their houses or lost the equity they spent years to build. savings had been wiped out like it never happened. today the jobless rate is half of what it was at the height of the recession.
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nobody raves about the job market. too many people went whack to work at lower wages. too many went into jobs that don't require the degrees they went into debt to obtain. the economists say things are better than they were years ago, bummed never believe it to hear people talk about tiny raises and changing jobs. i took a look at glass half empty or half full with the 2006 secretary of labor thomas perez. >> the numbers are going to come out at the end of the week, and yet when they do people say yay, but--they push back on the numbers. >> well, it's important to understand the depth of what this president inherited. three months before the president took office this economy lost 2 million jobs.
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we were in the ditch. that's the reality. and we've come a long way. 68 months in a row of private sector job growth as you noted in your opening it was 10% in 2009, the unemployment rate. now we've seen 5.5 straight years of 13.5 million jobs. and over the last couple of years especially not only has the quantity of jobs been very promising, but the quality as well because you look at the sectors where you see the most job creation. business and professional services by and large very good jobs. education and health, by and large very good jobs. at the same time there is undeniable unfinished business. i've traveled this country. i've seen folks who were part of the long-term unemployed who are now back in the workforce. when i listen to america in my travels, ray, i see folks who we're able to help get back on
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their feet. at the same time i talk to way too many people who are working two jobs to make ends meet. i talk to too many people who work a 50-hour week and get food from the food pantry. to see that the progress we're seeing is shared prosperity for everyone not just a few at the tomorrow. our economy is out of balance. there is no doubt about it. there are too few at the top who get too much, and those who he helped to bake the prosperity of the current progress we're make something not sharing in that prosper glit let's dril process prosperity. >> let's bake down what we're seeing, it used to be that the magic number is the 5%. that's full employment because that's when wages start to rise faster than productivity. that's when we start to see
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inflation in the economy. but the last couple of jobs reports we're talking about pennies per hour that the average worker is seeing. why is that tight label market not translating into successful demands for higher wages? >> well, we still have further room for further tightening in the labor market. but the last time--and we've seen 2% growth in real wages over the last year, which is better than what we had seen in previous years, but not enough. the broader issues of stubborn wage growth has been with us quite literally for a couple of decades. the last time we saw sustained wage growth was in the late 90s. back then the unemployment rate dipped down to 4%. i don't know what the magic number is, but i know there is slack in this economy. there is room for improvement. that's why our investments in infrastructure, that's why our invest in rule making such as over time rule which is raising
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the wages of people who are working 60 hours but really only getting paid for 40 hours. that's why our investment in apprenticeship and skill. my folks taught me that education was the great equalizer. the more skill you have the better the job you're going to get. that's why these investments continue to be really important. here's the good news. there is five and a half million open jobs right now. everywhere i go, ray, i have the same conversation with employers. i'm bullish about the future. i want to grow my future, but too many people walking in the door don't have the skill to do the it job or the job in advance manufacturing. that's what we have to work on, to make sure that everybody who wants to punch their ticket to the middle class has the skills to do that. >> at the lower end of the skill range we see workers in hospitality, food service demanding higher wages.
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municipalities raising minimum wage. that's one end of the fight. but we're also seeing more skilled workers who say they can hardly get a wage, and their bosses point to workers in the developing world and say that's your competition. so i'm not going to pay you more money. see you tomorrow. >> actually, what we're seeing now--i think we're beginning to see some progress really in both ends. 7million people got a raise as a result of state and local actions on the minimum wage. we'll continue to fight like heck at the federal level to raise the minimum wage. at the same time we're working with all of these remarkable people at state and local government who are making those efforts and very successful efforts to raise the wages. at the other end of the scale what we need to do, and i've spent a lot of time talking to employers on silicon valley,
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employers with manufacturing, i met the ceo of hcb grocery store in austin, 80,000 strong. biggest grocery store in texas. their biggest competition is walmart, and they're beating balancbeat walmart, and they're beating walmart and pay their workers above minimum wage. their managers are making $50,000 and $60,000, and they understand that it's a false choice as your question suggested do we take care of our workers, or do we take care of our bottom line. hgb understand when you treat your workers well that works for the bottom line, the customer and everyone. it creates that shared prosperity. >> we're talking with u.s. labor secretary thomas perez. when we come back we'll focus on wider trends in the job market. what is encouraged and what is happening in workplaces and paychecks. a cup half empty?
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that's inside story. frontier societies like written everyday. it's not always pretty, but it's real... and we show you like no-one else can. this is our american story. this is america tonight.
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>> half a million fields will lie fallow. >> if we had another year of this severe drought, i'd say all bets are off. >> you are watching "inside story." i'm ray suarez. bleeding red, white and blue on tonight's edition. >> you're watching "inside story." i'm ray suarez. unemployment rates have fallen sharply. if you're in the workplace now do you feel like you're in position to ask for a raise. if you hire and negotiate can you afford to risk losing an
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experienced employer for want of a raise? knowing there is someone else out there you can readily employ at the price you want to pay. we refer to the job market. how is that market working? the u.s. secretary of labor thomas perez is with us. secretary, one of the big trends now is the so-called gig economy where people don't have what their own parts thought of as a job, but a series of just jobs and a series of in effect of temporary employers. are there enough protections for workers in that kind of contingent labor force? >> it's important to know that the beyon on-demand economy. this is a new phenomenon. people in the construction industry went from job to job and continued to do that. in the home health industry go from job to job, and you continue to do that. one thing that strikes me when i
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talk about the on-demand economy, we need to make sure that we understand the data on this because there was at least one rent estimate showing the percentage of people in this workforce is about 1%. so while there is growth in this area, you look at the growth in other legacy sectors, and it's pretty large as well. so i appreciate the need for flex ability. what we need to do, and the conversation we're having is we're about to embark on a conference at the department of labor on the future of work. the future of work is the conference about what does impact 2.0 look like? how do you ensure that workers can make ends meet? that workers have that safety net? all too many workers whether they've been working at a long-standing legacy company or whether they're working in the on-demand economy right now, they don't have that safety net.
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they're one accident away from poverty. >> one big change was supposed to be the affordable care act, where people were imprisoned in jobs because they couldn't afford to change for fear of losing their insurance or having a pre-existing condition ding them, so supposedly that was going to free workers and make it easier to move from place to place or get your own insurance if you need it. do we have data to show that that is true? >> the irony, ray, the folks who want to repeal the affordable care act the irony of that is that unlocking of job lock, which we've seen, one of my best friends is someone who has two kids with disabilities. he was working in his job because he needed the health benefits. he liveed in massachusetts. he got romney care. as a result he was able to make leswork less and make more and
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have that access. those who want to repeal obamacare has no appreciation in the fact that in an on-stand economy where people want more flexibility to deal with family or other circumstances a linchpin of enabling people to have that safety net is among other things the affordable care act. >> do we know yet whether it's going to be a big part of our future workforce? will people have to think about work, what it is, how it's structured in a different way when in affec effect is your boss is who will hire me today. >> it's important to understand that change is not something new. 100 years ago--over 100 years ago we were having this conversation in the united states during the industrial revolution, and there was a case that went to the supreme court in early 20th century, a famous
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case lockner where it was about standards in the bakery industry. the question presented was in this new economy, the economy of industrialization, what does the social impact look like? does an employer have a right to employ someone for 80 hours a week with no benefits, etc. these questions were asked appropriately in the on-demand economy are not new. and what we saw as a result of fierce debate, the social compact was that if you're going to work more than a 40-hour week you're going to be paid extra. if you lose your job through no fault of your own there should be that safety net. >> unionization was raising at that time.
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but as it's dropping now do we have those same ethos now? >> i think you correctly point out, those who fought in america's greatest generation came home and led the union movement and the decades of prosperity that we saw in the aftermath of world war ii were also decades of prosperity for the labor movement. there has been a tron assault. let's make no mistake about it, a very conscious at all times by those on the far right by working people. they want to remove people's voice. they want to take the leverage from workers and give it to employers. that is a challenge. as we talk about the on-demand economy, it's beyond that. i believe there is strong evidence base to support my belief when workers have a voice in the workplace whether it's through collective bargaining,
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or through what proctor & gamble did decades ago, which is profit sharing, work council, businesses succeed, workers succeed, and the bottom line succeed. as we build the safety net as we think about the on- demand economy, we want to innovate. we want innovation that works for businesses, communities and the bottom line. >> i'm talking with labor secretary thomas perez, when we return, is one of the reasons why the jobless rate is so low that many people have left the labor force? a cup half empty which? that's the "inside story."
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>> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. if you look at a broad selection >> welcome back to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. one of the commonly heard critiques of the low jobless rate is that millions, fewer americans are in the regular workforce. just over 62% of american adults are working down smartly from 67% early in the last decade. what is happening? the rate was once much lower, but that was because so many women were not working regularly. in the modern era are millions of americans willing to work, find themselves unable to work, and just leaving the labor market? with me for today's program is labor secretary thomas perez. let's talk about labor participation. it's usually a sign of people's own optimism and own sentiments
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about their chances out there in the marketplace. how should we read that 5% decline in a labor mark a market as big as ours. that's a lot of of people. >> the reason why it has gone down is the aging of the baby boomers. there is wide consensus that that is the reason for the large decline in the labor rates. the first thing we can do is to pass a federal paid leave law because you know, we're the only industrialized planet on the earth that doesn't have some form of paid leave. we know from the experience of other countries when you make it easier for dual-career families to enter the workplace after they have a child, you increase labor force participation. one data point. the united states and canada, the participation rate of women in 2000 was equal. now canada is about 8 percentage
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points higher than us, and just if we had kept pace with canada, and they have very progressive paid leave policies for women. that's why they're higher. as a result of that if we would have kept pace we would have 5.5 more women in the workplace. 5.5 mor5.5 more people to make wall street look more like america. >> let's clarify what you mean by paid leave? is this a government benefit when you leave the workplace you're getting a portion of that paycheck substitution from a public entity? or is this your boss saying you're not going to be here. but i'm going to have to pay you while you're not here and keep your job open. >> let's look at what the rest of the world does. one thing that your viewer should understand, the united states is the only country where paid leave has become a partisan issue. the conserv conservative issue.
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in germany, you give birth, you get 14 weeks off by federal law. and it's paid. and the studies show that bonding time is indispensable for both parent and child, and it enables people to stay in the workplace. so the question always gets asked, well, how much does it cost? well, i think the more important question right now is the cost of doing nothing. we are losing literally hundreds of billions of dollars that could be in the social security trust fund that could be in the medicare trust fund, and we're losing the talents of remarkable men and women who want to stay home with their child, but they can't do so. and so to those who say the labor force participation rate isn't high enough, put your money where your mouth is. pass paid leave. that is an absolute winner. >> you know what happens when you propose something like this.
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if the administration were to go out into the world tomorrow and say, this is what we want. we want to enable this, you would be mobbed by employer organizations, the national association of manufacturers, the u.s. chamber of commerce coming down on you like hail stone because this will raise my cost of booking business, raise my cost of being an employer, and i'm not sure i see the benefit of it. it's a charge to my bottom line that i can't abide. >> and we have so many other businesses saying just the opposite. i was with the chambers of commerce in vermont. they convened a meeting on paid leave. there was an employer there who provides paid leave for his workers. he has a number of workers who are dual-career couples. every time their kid is sick, it's their employee who takes the day off because the spouse doesn't have paid leave. that's an unlevel playing field
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by employers who play by the rules. smart employers whether it's microsoft or smaller employers across the country, they understand that paid leave is a sound investment, and we need to have federal policy, and we see what california did ten years ago that you can do this. all the parade of horribles, we hear the same calamity howling when it's the minimum wage. we hear the same ca calamity howling on paid leave. when they claim the president failed for not raiding participation rate, that's hypocritical. we need to make sure families can spend the most important time when their child is born with that child. >> thank you for joining us. >> always a pleasure. >> i'll be back with the world of work. what we ask from it and what it
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demands from us. stay with us. that's "inside story." send us your thoughts on twitter a @aj ajam. share your thoughts. we would love to hear from you. >> coming up on al jazeera america. the isil connection. the link between the group and the san bernardino shooters. what we're learning about lives lost as victims remember their loved ones. plus what conservative lawmakers are doing in missouri to make it hard for get an abortion in the state. and the opec meeting in europe. those stories and much more coming up on al jazeera america at 7:00 p.m. eastern.
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>> it is not un-american or >> once on labor day i was on the radio, and talking about work. and closed my program by saying work ennobles life. i had seen across my whole life and working career in the u.s. and around the world that people took great pride in the fact that they work. contributed to their own sustenance and that of their families, even in jobs a lot of people might find disgusting or di meaning. i was unprepared for the blow back that met what i thought was an unremarkable idea. but people thought i was siding with abusive and exploitive employers rather than talking about workers from the bottom up. but i've seen the crushing weight of long-term unemployment squeeze the life out of people
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pop just democratically, it does something terrible to people's spirits, too. i've seen how lack of respect, lack of compassion, lack of empathy and from bosses, knocks workers who want to do a good job off their bearings, and loyalty was really an one-way street after all demanded by employers and not always given. no wonder in the face of a tightening labor market in the face of a new and flexible world of work, workers still say that they're not feeling better about their own prospects and those of their neighbors. too rarely seen raises that put them ahead of inflation, they don't just feel that way out of a sense of grievance, they feel it because it's measurable and true. it will be interesting to see how much that unease fuels the political season. i'm ray suarez.
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that's the "inside story." . >> this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm tony harris. an act of terrorism. the fbi officially classified the investigation into the san bernardino shooting. inside the apartment the suspects' landlord opens their door and the crime scene to the media. remembering the victims, the 14 lives taken and the one who is survived. what friends and family are saying.

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