By CNN's Jack Cafferty:
With 8.2% unemployment, here's something that will likely surprise you about America's job market:
Companies say they've had 3 million job openings every month since February - this according to the Labor Department.
But employers say they're having trouble filling these positions because they can't find skilled workers to do the jobs.
Bloomberg News reports that in order to narrow this "skills gap," employers are teaming up with philanthropies, governments and community colleges to train their existing workforce.
Places like hospitals are taking the lead, turning to their own staff to train technicians and nurses. Also, factories and construction companies are stepping up apprenticeships.
Employers say it's not just technical skills that workers are missing - they point to so-called "soft skills" - things like the ability to solve problems, think critically and work in teams.
In other words, a lot of Americans are too stupid to do the jobs that are available. Pretty sad.
CNNMoney.com has another surprising example of jobs going unfilled: there are 200,000 jobs available for long haul truckers that nobody wants.
Experts say the positions are hard to fill since it's difficult and expensive to get certified.
Plus the lifestyle of a trucker isn't easy. Long days on the road often living in the back of a truck, separated from family and friends and working crazy hours.
Still truckers earn an average of almost $40,000. That's $4,000 more than the median wage for all jobs.
You'd think people looking for work would jump at the chance.
Here’s my question to you: With 8.2% unemployment, why does nobody want 200,000 trucking jobs?
Interested to know which ones made it on air?
It's tough enough to hold a job these days without having to constantly worry about losing it.
CNBC.com reports on the five tell-tale signs that your job might be on the chopping block:
1) So-called mergers can spell trouble - because many jobs get duplicated.
2) Getting passed over for a promotion is a bad sign - especially if you're more qualified than whoever gets picked for the job.
3) There may be a pink slip in your future if you're asked to share your files or update another team member on all of your projects. This includes being asked to share passwords, client lists and contact information.
4) If you're assigned to a short-term project that has little to do with your regular job, it could mean your job won't be waiting for you when you're done.
5) A computer can do your job.
Human resources experts suggest there are some things you can do to help keep your job - like asking for feedback, tracking your goals and building a portfolio of all your accomplishments.
But even if you do all the right things, you could still wind up on the street. The U.S. is facing a long-term unemployment crisis. There are nearly 5.5 million people who have been out of work for more than six months.
That's about 43% of all the unemployed. Economists call it a national emergency.
And if you're not already worried about losing your job, all you have to hear is that statistic that the net worth of the average family has declined 40% from 2007 to 2010 and you'll be volunteering to work nights and weekends.
Here’s my question to you: How worried are you about losing your job?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 5pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
And, we love to know where you’re writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
FROM CNN's Jack Cafferty:
Unemployment is hitting home. Big time.
Nearly 7 in 10 Americans say they know someone who has either been laid off or lost their job in the last six months, according to a new Gallup Poll. And that's the highest in Gallup's history of asking this question.
Numbers like these could have huge political implications for President Obama come Election Day in November.
More bad news. Only 21% of those surveyed say it's a "good time to find a quality job," while 77% say it's a bad time.
This is actually an improvement from last year, when 90% of Americans said it was a bad time to find a job.
This is interesting. Even though most Americans know someone who has lost a job, only 15% say it is "very or fairly likely" that they personally will lose their job or get laid off in the next year.
The national unemployment rate is at 8.2%.
Hiring slowed dramatically in March, with employers adding only 120,000 jobs, down from 240,000 jobs in February.
While the unemployment rate declined a little last month, it's because people dropped out of the labor force.
Economists surveyed by CNN Money predict the unemployment rate will slip to 8% by the end of the year.
But 8% unemployment could still present a huge challenge for President Obama. Eight percent is a far cry from the 4.4% unemployment rate before the recession.
President Obama might want to take note. Since 1948, only one incumbent president has won re-election with unemployment at more than 7%. That was Ronald Reagan in 1984.
Here’s my question to you: How likely is it that you will be laid off or lose your job in the next six months?
Tune in to the Situation Room at 4pm to see if Jack reads your answer on air.
Arizona could become the first state to require drug tests for applicants for unemployment benefits.
This was part of the deal when Congress agreed last month to extend jobless benefits through the end of the year. That legislation allows states to require drug testing for people who lost their jobs because they failed an employer's drug test - or for those applying for jobs where drug testing is common.
The Arizona State Senate has approved this bill and now it will go to the House for a vote. The Bill's sponsor tells the Huffington Post he would have pushed for this legislation even if Congress hadn't paved the way.
Republican State Senator Steve Smith says the unemployed are fortunate to live in a country where there are programs to help people survive when they're looking for work.
He says the least applicants should do is prove they're of "sound mind to get a job."
Supporters of these drug tests say businesses shouldn't have to subsidize illegal activity. They suggest that workers could also increase their chances of getting hired if they prove they're drug-free.
But critics say drug testing is costly - that it could cost millions for states to administer. They also say drug tests stigmatize the jobless as drug addicts.
Arizona could also run into some resistance here. That's because Congress has left it up to the labor department to determine how many unemployment applicants get drug tests.
Here’s my question to you: Should applicants for jobless benefits have to pass a drug test?
Unemployment could be headed back up to 9% again - not what President Obama wants to hear as he faces re-election.
Gallup reports that the unemployment rate in mid-February stood at 9% - up from 8.3% in mid-January.
Gallup's monthly report serves as a preliminary estimate of what the U.S. government will report next week.
The report also found 10% of U.S. employees are working part-time, but want full-time work.
And they put underemployment at 19% - up significantly from just a month ago.
While the Obama administration was quick to trumpet a lower unemployment rate of 8.3% in January, others were already warning about a gloomy jobless picture.
The congressional budget office predicted last fall that unemployment would remain close to 9% until the end of 2012, and now they say unemployment will stay above 8% well into 2014.
Meanwhile there are other signs that the economy is not out of the woods by a long shot.
Gas prices are already at their highest levels ever for this time of year - and they're headed higher. In Florida, some drivers are already paying almost $6 a gallon.
Government job cuts could place a further damper on the economy with the government being the largest employer in the country.
Lastly, while manufacturing revs up and stocks rally, just remember this:
It only takes one shock to set the economy back. Last year we had lots - from the Arab spring revolutions to Japan's earthquake and Europe's debt crisis.
Can you say Iran?
Here’s my question to you: Can President Obama win re-election if unemployment goes back up to 9%?
Here's something that ought to keep President Obama up at night: No president since FDR has won re-election with unemployment over 7.2%.
The unemployment rate may have dropped to 8.6% in November, but the picture isn't nearly as rosy as the White House would like us to believe.
Yes, it's the lowest it's been since March 2009, and it's getting closer to the 7.8% rate we had when Obama took office, but that's where the good news ends.
This job market still has a long way to go to recover from the financial crisis. A very long way.
In total, 8.8 million jobs have been lost since the recession started, and fewer than a third of those have been recovered.
More than 13 million people are still unemployed, and 43% of them have been out of work for more than six months.
Plus the current unemployment rate of 8.6% isn't even as good as it seems. That's because a big part of the rate decrease is due to more than 300,000 discouraged workers giving up entirely on their job searches and simply dropping out of the workforce. It's not due to job creation.
Speaking of job creation, employers added only 120,000 jobs in October. That's well below what economists say is needed just to keep up with population growth.
So numbers aside, the job outlook remains pretty bleak. Add in the disastrous housing market and the European debt crisis, which could pull our economy down even further, and Obama has his work cut out for him.
A recent CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll shows only 15% of Americans say economic conditions are good. Six out of seven people say conditions are poor, with a majority saying "very poor."
Here's my question to you: No president since FDR has won re-election with unemployment over 7.2%. Is President Obama doomed?
Tune in to "The Situation Room" at 5 p.m. ET to see if Jack reads your answer on the air.
And we'd love to know where you're writing from, so please include your city and state with your comment.
Yet another sign of our very troubled times:
Almost half of Americans - 48.5% - live in a household that gets some kind of government aid.
That's a record high according to census data for the first quarter of 2010. It's up from about 44% of the population in 2008... and from less than 30% in 1983.
Here's how it breaks down:
More than 34% of Americans live in a household that gets either food stamps, subsidized housing, cash welfare or Medicaid. Applications for these programs are up nearly 50% in the past decade.
More than 14% live in homes where someone is on Medicare.
16% live in homes getting Social Security.
But that's only half the story.
As unemployment hovers above 9%, more than 46 million Americans live below the poverty line. And as more people turn to government assistance, there are fewer people actually paying taxes to support all these programs.
It's estimated that more than 46% of households will pay no federal income tax this year. In 2010, 45% of households paid no federal income tax.
It doesn't take a mathematician to figure out that this is unsustainable.
With fewer than half of Americans paying federal taxes - and just about half living in a family that gets government aid - this country is headed down the drain. And fast.
It's no wonder the crowds protesting around the country keep growing with every passing day.
Here’s my question to you: How long can we go on with almost half of Americans living in households that get government assistance?
Here's just one more example of where the jobs have gone: Ford motor company says it's broken ground on a $1 billion manufacturing and engineering plant - in India. It will employ 5,000 people when fully operational. In India.
Translation: That's 5,000 additional jobs in India while America struggles under 9.1% unemployment.
The Ford plant is expected to open in 2014 and produce 240,000 vehicles and 270,000 engines a year.
This will be Ford's second plant in India. So far Ford has invested $2 billion in that country. It's also one of seven new plants that Ford is building in China, Thailand and India. It's not unusual for manufacturers to build plants where the customers are... happens all the time.
Ford says the new Indian facility will help them reach the goal of increasing worldwide sales by 50% to 8 million vehicles a year by 2015. They say they're expanding in markets - like India - that have the most growth potential.
Makes perfect sense. India likely has more people itching to buy cars than the U.S., with its rapidly vanishing middle class.
And therein lies the problem. People in America who don't have jobs are less likely to buy a new car. As President Obama prepares to address the nation with his jobs plan tomorrow night, the American worker is facing a real uphill battle.
Unemployment is at 9.1% nationally, underemployment is even higher... and last week we learned that there were zero jobs added to the economy in august. Zero.
Here’s my question to you: What message does it send that Ford is opening a new plant (with 5,000 jobs) in India?
Here we go again: President Obama wants to spend another $300 billion we don't have.
The president is set to roll out his jobs plan Thursday night in a speech to a joint session of Congress.
But you need a magnifying glass to find where the job creation is hidden.
Early reports suggest the plan will focus on new infrastructure spending. OK, might be some jobs created there. But an extension of unemployment benefits? How does that create jobs? Aid to local governments meant to prevent teacher layoffs? That preserves existing jobs but doesn't create jobs.
There may also be an extension of the payroll tax cut, as well as some tax breaks for businesses.
Bottom line is a lot of this is just more government giveaways.
And once again, it's being advocated with no plan for how to pay for it.
Apparently the cost of the roughly $300 billion will have to be offset by "tax increases in later years." It would all be part of a long-term deficit reduction plan that would include spending and entitlement cuts as well as tax increases.
Translation: More empty rhetoric designed to justify more deficit government spending.
No one is making any tough decisions about cutting spending or raising taxes. The government continues to kick the national debt time bomb down the road, piling on more and more government spending for which there is no money.
Of course it's unlikely that much of the president's plan will make it through Congress. Some Republicans have already dismissed it, saying it's just a continuation of the failed 2009 stimulus plan.
Here’s my question to you: How should the estimated $300 billion cost of President Obama's jobs plan be paid for?
President Barack Obama has a lot riding on Thursday's jobs speech - maybe even a second term.
As the president prepares to address a joint session of Congress and with the nation reeling from 9% unemployment, he's in a tough spot. And the Republicans know it.
Obama's approval rating continues to slide. A new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll shows him at the lowest mark of his presidency with only 44% approving.
Another new poll by Politico shows 72% of those surveyed say the country is headed in the wrong direction. That's up 12 points since May. Only 39% approve of the president's handling of the economy.
If this economy doesn't start to turn around, the president is finished. In fact, one Democratic pollster already says that Obama is no longer the favorite to win re-election.
That’s why Thursday's speech is so important. But here's the thing: The president has made speech after speech on the economy for three years now. Where are the jobs?
The details of this speech are being kept under wraps, but the president might call for infrastructure spending, job training programs, tax breaks for businesses and workers and extending unemployment benefits - again. So far, no word on where the money for all this will come from. We are $14 trillion in debt.
The president claims he will propose ways to get Americans working to which both parties can agree. Don't bet on that agreement thingy.
Washington is more divided than ever, and Republicans can smell blood in the water here. They know Obama is vulnerable, and it seems unlikely that they'll agree to anything that will improve his position.
Here’s my question to you: What's the point of President Obama's job speech?
Jack Cafferty sounds off hourly on the Situation Room on the stories crossing his radar. Now, you can check in with Jack online to see what he's thinking and weigh in with your own comments online and on TV.
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