By Lauren Selsky, Washington DC desk assistant and Shannon Urtnowski, Burbank production assistant
Living on opposite ends of the country, we talk often about the differences of each coast, ranging from weather to pace of life. But, being in the early stages of our careers and concerned with the current state of the nation, something more important has been on our minds lately; an unfortunate trend spanning coast to coast - "unemployment."
It was disheartening to hear the recent statistics showing payrolls fell by 190,000 workers last month and the U.S. unemployment rate climbed to 10.2 percent. These numbers have been creeping up for some time now, and families nationwide are hurting from lost jobs, lost benefits, and lost sense of self. There had to be something different - something better - that could be done.
Though we knew we weren't the first to tackle this challenge, we decided to use the skills we had - researching. One program in particular stuck out - work sharing. Simply put, work sharing is mutually beneficial to both employers and employees - a win/win situation. Employers reduce workers' weekly hours and pay, and the workers collect unemployment from the state in lieu of being laid off.
With guidance from Producer John Cheang and Correspondent Chris Jansing we found the program has been a saving grace for a company in Washington. Chris and John went up to Seattle and saw this first-hand.
For all the good this work share program does, having already saved 150,000 jobs this year alone, only 17 states have adopted the program. There are those who believe even more can and should be done. For example, economist Mark Zandi wrote a Nov. 2nd op-ed in the New York Times proposing Congress provide financing to expand work share programs nationwide. With unemployment continuing to rise, it seems unlikely Zandi is alone in his views.