Plenty of jobs still exist in the US economy, but plenty have been lost. And the jobs that have vanished were good jobs, middle-class ones—the kind that helped families buy houses, cars, and college educations for their children. Many of the jobs were available to immigrants and workers without college degrees, and allowed them to work toward the American dream.
These job losses, which extend beyond manufacturing, represent a seismic economic shift, and how to replace them is a conundrum with which economists and policy makers are struggling. “We’re so accustomed to not dealing with this question, frankly, as is the government, that we’ve come to a point where people are upset about the quality of the jobs,” says Anthony P. Carnevale, director of the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce.