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Job Numbers Down 49,000 Last Month; Oil Prices Surge Again; Major Cell Phone Deal
Aired June 8, 2008 - 15:00 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
ALI VELSHI, CNN HOST, YOUR MONEY: Welcome to YOUR MONEY where we look at how the news of the week affects your wallet. I'm Ali Velshi; we've got a lot to cover this hour. Oil, politics, a major deal in the cell phone sector but let's get started with jobs. It was the big story this last week. Unemployment jumped to 5 1/2 percent in May, that is the biggest monthly rise in more than two decades.
Employers cut more than 49,000 jobs last month. For most of us, our economic outlook is pretty simple, do I have a job. Lakshman Achuthan joins us now, he is the managing director of the Economic Cycle Research Institute and a good friend of ours and Lakshman we have to make the point here that deciding whether you're downsizing from your SUV to a smaller car or how you are refinancing your mortgage it all starts with the ability to make money to have an income.
LAKSHMAN ACHUTHAN, ECONOMIC CYCLE RESEARCH INST: Absolutely.
VELSHI: So the job is the underpinning of this economy. We thought we had a bit of a break we didn't lose as many jobs in April, but now we are back to losing 50,000 jobs in May.
ACHUTHAN: This is at hallmark of a recession. Each recession, each downturn is completely different. They're like snowflakes they're all different. This is no different. There's a mild set of job loss. But are we in a recession, what is this? Today's data tells you are in recession. You've never had, we've had a 1 percent, over a 1 percent rise in the unemployment rate since last spring to put that in perspective, you've never had more than a 1 percent rise in the unemployment rate outside of recession.
VELSHI: So this is twice as much.
ACHUTHAN: So it's basically the diagnosis is over it is a recession, but that's a big part of the healing process. You get to know where you are. We want to look, is there any sign of a recovery ahead? What we know is we're probably going to get more job losses ahead. It's not over. That's the number one thing. We haven't hit the bottom yet. Some reasons to hope for a recovery at the end of this year. Basically, inventories were very lean going into this recession and we've been exporting a lot.
VELSHI: A lot of stuff around.
ACHUTHAN: So there's not this big downward correction in inventory. VELSHI: We wondered whether the stimulus checks, some of which have gone out already, would cause a big impact. People are going shopping, businesses will make more money, and they'll hire more people?
ACHUTHAN: Sorry to give you the bad news, I'm afraid that money is not going to do anything about this recession at all. It came too late. It's not the amount, it was the timing. It came too late. As a result, we know oil prices have raised $40 this year. Pretty much all of it went there, into the gas tank.
VELSHI: So that government you've been spending to fill up for gas.
ACHUTHAN: So that's gone. That's not going to kick start the economy or anything like that. Looking forward, because of these lean inventories and because the recessions recently have been a little bit shorter, we have a reason to hope for an end of the year recovery. There's a risk to that. The risk to that is this current oil spike going on. Getting another shock on top of an already kind of vulnerable economy, that's not a combination you want to go out and have if you can avoid it.
ACHUTHAN: We do look like that's setting up right here. That's the risk to this kind of short recession.
VELSHI: So the recession in and of itself might start to fix itself. But if we continue to see these oil numbers, someone at Morgan Stanley said $150 by July 4th for a barrel of oil. That's going to send gasoline prices higher, air fares, all of that.
ACHUTHAN: And the combo of a new oil shock. We've had oil shocks in '07, and '06, '05, they didn't knock us out. But an oil shock in the midst of a recession that is a different combination. It's not a repeat of years earlier and it could give us a leg down. That's a risk I'm concerned about going forward.
VELSHI: So we're trying to hope for the best situation that might get us out of this situation by the end of the year.
ACHUTHAN: The thing is recessions kill inflation. Ultimately inflation is going to come down.
VELSHI: Because demand goes down. We don't have job, we don't have as much money.
ACHUTHAN: This is Darwinian in correcting itself.
VELSHI: All right. Lakshman Achuthan good to see you; thank you so much for that. Well we been talking about oil, oil jumped on the jobs news on Friday. Fueling more concerns over the cost of fuel and our dependence on oil. Politicians specialize in promising energy independence. With the presidential race heating up, look for the candidates to promise to reduce our dependence on regions in the world that frankly don't like us very much.
Can these politicians deliver on those promises? Well CNN's special correspondent Frank Sesno joins us with more. Hey, Frank.
FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Hey, Ali, how are you?
VELSHI: Good. We're getting these promises. That's what everyone is talking about. We use four times the oil we produce in the United States. Energy dependents is nowhere on the horizon for us.
FRANK SESNO, CNN SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT: Nowhere on the horizon. Promises, promises. Get used to it, the can campaign is under way, we'll see what they can actually deliver. Here's the thing, what is our government doing about it as these prices go up, what can the candidates do? Look no farther than Washington, D.C. Right now, where the politics of distraction pretty much defines our energy policy.
Case in point, perfect metaphor, and this business about not filling, the strategic petroleum reserve, and the metaphor for the problems and for the complication behind it, really a big so what? What if we stop filling the petroleum strategic reserve?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
SESNO: It sounds nice, but it won't make the Saudis pump more or China use less it won't convince Iran with all its oil to like us or enable our friends to help us since their biggest oil fields have already peeked. For example, Norway's production is down 25 percent in the past seven years, Britain is down more than 40 percent. Mexico, Americans second biggest oil supply has seen its biggest oil fields collapse.
If we stop filling the strategic petroleum reserve, it won't bring stability to Iraq or to Nigeria where rebels keep attacking the oil it won't boost U.S. production or the mileage we get with our big cars it won't undo American sprawl, our monuments to cheap gas. Or fix mass transit so more Americans have efficient alternatives.
Here's what it will do. It will stock about 70, 000 barrels out of more than 21 million earned each day from going into the ground. Our insurance policy in case the oil flow is disrupted like it was in the '70s it will save two to five cents a gallon most experts say. Another thing it will do it will let politician say they've done something.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
SESNO: But they'll keep talking about it as they should because the pressure is really on. Meanwhile the prices continue to go up. It's going to be a long painful summer.
VELSHI: Because you know so much about this, let's put this in perspective for our viewers. When we talk about getting oil from places we may have relationships with. In fact, the top few countries we get oil from we have a good relationship with.
SESNO: It's mixed bag. Here's the latest readout from the Energy Information Agency. Our supplier, number one supplier, people don't realize this, is Canada to the north. Good relationship, largely driven by the oil sands which they turn into synthetic crude. Right behind them is Saudi Arabia, Mexico, number three, Nigeria number four and Venezuela after that so some allies there, but the Saudis when the president was last there and the president said pump some more. They gave a little bit, and are holding back beyond that. Beyond those top few countries, you've got some real problems and real instability.
VELSHI: You made a comment earlier about the United States right after being rebuffed by the Saudi when President Bush asked for more oil, deciding that they were not going to be putting 70,000 some barrels a day into the strategic petroleum reserve, those big vats of reserve in Texas and Louisiana, had no effect on the price of oil whatsoever, even that day.
SESNO: You know what? Like I said, this is a distraction, it's like the gas tax holiday, the strategic petroleum reserve, the issues that are driving these prices, you report on it day after day are global demand, the uncertainty in the marketplace, and the sense of risk. This is the marketplace. And you know, we've been saying for a long time, the era of cheap oil is over. That's what have to get into our heads because even with some of these tweaking there's just too much demand chasing too little supply or too tight supply right now. It doesn't mean we're running out of oil imminently, but it means it is a tight marketplace.
VELSHI: I would love to get your comments on this. At some level we're pleased that there are investigations into the speculation or how excessive speculation might drive up the price of oil but I worry that that investigation likely calling the oil companies CEOs up to Congress, they are also distractions to the main issue here and that is we really have to look at massive alternatives to what we are doing right now, regardless of whether someone is speculating to send the price of oil up or you think an oil executive it making too much money.
SESNO: That's just right. We have been lulled into this sense of cheap oil and we built ourselves around cheap oil, that's the key. Now we've got this tech tonic shift, technology is going to change, lifestyle is going to change, and buying habits are going to change. We've already seen this with the backlog of hybrid vehicles, the jump on the demand of public transportation situations. Very much like Europe has experienced because of high taxes for a long time. Now the United States is now going to start to experience because of high taxes but because of the rising price of the fuel itself.
VELSHI: You hit it right on the head. Frank Sesno thanks so much. CNN special correspondent Frank Sesno. He talks about our lifestyle changing, one of the things we're doing is dumping trucks. Find out how the high price of oil is driving change on car lots and auto factories around the country.
And later, when life hands you a pink slip, how do you make pink lemonade. We'll tell you how to negotiate the best possible severance package when you are faced with a layoff. Stay with us. You're watching YOUR MONEY on CNN.
(COMMERCIAL BREAK) VELSHI: General Motors announced this week, it's moving away from trucks and focusing on smaller cars instead, the move comes less than two weeks after a similar announcement by Ford and it represents a major change for the world's largest automaker.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
RICK WAGONER, CHRM. CEO GENERAL MOTORS: Our greatest concern is these unprecedented rise in oil prices. These higher gasoline prices are changing consumer behavior and rapidly. Significantly affecting the U.S. auto industry sales mix. We, at GM, don't think this is a spike or a temporary shift. We believe it is by and large permanent.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: GM is closing four North American truck and SUV plants cutting truck capacity by 700,000 vehicles. In Canada, the factory that makes the award winning but poorly selling Chevy Silverado pickup truck and GMC Sierra twin. In Mexico, a plant that builds medium duty pickups and two U.S. plants, one in Moraie, Ohio which makes the mid sized SUV Chevy Trail Blazer and GM's Envoy and one in Janesville, Wisconsin, which makes the large Chevy Suburban and GMC Yukon. The company is also looking at dumping its gas guzzling Hummer brand. GM hasn't had a profitable year since 1994 and it won't have one this year either. But CEO Rick Wagoner says its cars and crossover vehicles are selling much better.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
WAGONER: Going forward our focus on cars and crossovers will accelerate. In fact, 18 of our next new 19 product launches in the U.S. will be cars or crossovers.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
VELSHI: And it's ramping up production of those types of cars. Starting in September, GM is adding a shift at two of its U.S. plants. One is the Lake Oreon Michigan plant which makes the Chevy Malibu, the North American car of the year and Pontiac g-6 the other is in Lords town, Ohio, where the combat Chevy Cobalt and the Pontiac g-5 are built.
The Lords town plant will also be home to a new generation compact fuel efficient car similar to the Chevy Aveo. GM's board has also approved money to develop the Chevy Volt a plug in hybrid electric car which can run gas-free for up to 40 miles before it needs a recharge. The Volt can hit showrooms by 2010.
So clearly the high price of gas is affecting not only drivers but automakers as well. Profound changes are on the way. Joining us now is Rebecca Linland. She has her eye on the Northern American auto industry for Global Insight. Rebecca good to see you again. I should point out, these auto makers are all clients of the research that you do at Global Insight.
REBECCA LINLAND, GLOBAL INSIGHT: That's right. Thanks for having me on again, too. They are all clients so we're an equal opportunity employer.
VELSHI: Here's the question that people have been asking me since the Ford announcement and since the General Motors announcement, didn't they see this coming like the rest of us. They research it, why now are they surprised by the fact that Americans have run for the hills away from trucks and SUVs?
LINLAND: I don't know how much people did anticipate this because we've seen the shift in consumer behavior in the last few months. So they anticipated the shift to crossovers because GM was the first one to actually come out with large crossovers almost two years ago now. So they have anticipated to some extent the need for replacing full sized SUVs, which are truck, based and tend to weigh more and not get as good gas mileage into crossovers which are car based and get better gas mileage.
VELSHI: So they kind of give you that little bit more spacious feel, maybe a higher ride, but they're not a truck so they don't use as much gasoline.
LINLAND: Right, they're a kinder gentler version of a SUV but they still appeal to consumers because you can have a high riding position similar to a truck and often times they're easier to get in and out of. I'm really short and I look at a vehicle and I say do I need a step ladder and a parachute or can I get in and out easily.
VELSHI: My mom doesn't like getting into my car because she can't reach it very easily. Here is the thing the Europeans have been dealing with the higher gas prices than Americans have for so long, their problem wasn't making all sorts of creations that will make you feel like you're driving a truck or having a lot of storage space, they make do with little cars and very few seats and effective but small storage. Do we really just are to change the way we live?
LINLAND: The European model has actually grown out of the fact that they have smaller interstate, they have significantly smaller roads themselves in the cities and they do have a lot higher fuel prices. When you look at an emerging market like China, in fact, China much prefers the types of vehicles that the U.S. buys larger, bigger vehicles. That's just what people kind of gravitate towards. It's very interesting to see the emergence of China and what they prefer.
VELSHI: You and I have talked over the years about what the auto companies need to do. You have made the point that they need to get sexy, they need to be interesting, and the second biggest purchase in life has to be a real adventure. It seems now the priority has shifted for these care companies. Cars have got to be efficient.
LINLAND: The consumer value hasn't changed. They still want their vehicle to be sexy, it's just the version of sexy is a little bit different now. So it still has to make a statement, but now it tends to be more environmentally friendly and more of somebody looking and saying wow, what kind of fuel economy do you get in that thing for better or worse? So the value is the same but how you explore that is different now.
VELSHI: It's a never ending story of the auto industry in America. Rebecca Linland, good to see you again.
LINLAND: Thanks Ali.
VELSHI: Rebecca is with Global Insights.
Coming up after the break, a big merger in the mobile phone market find out what it means to your talk time and what you're paying for it regardless of your carrier. We'll break that down for you when we come back on YOUR MONEY. Stay with us.
VELSHI: Well, Verizon, the nation's number two wireless carrier agreed Thursday to buy Alltel, which is the nation's number five carrier. The deal will create the largest service provider for cellular phones in the United States. Mike Gikas from "Consumer Reports" joins us now to tell us what this will do for your bill even if you are not a customer of either of these carriers. Mike good to see you. Thank you for being with us. Good news or bad news for consumers when these telephone service providers, these cell phone service providers consolidate?
MIKE GIKAS, ASSOC EDITOR, "CONSUMER REPORTS:" Probably, well, for the customers probably neither. Both, Alltel and Verizon scored considerably high in the customer service and coverage area, but for Verizon, I guess they get to claim they're number one.
VELSHI: Now, let's first of all, talk about this is it Cingular that still advertises or AT&T that still advertises how many bars you get. Is coverage still an issue in 2008 in the United States?
GIKAS: It's one of the many issues, but overall, its customer service and high fees.
VELSHI: That's what we've heard, I mean we hear people complaining about the fact they can't get problems solved, the fees are too high or they are not understandable, billing problems. Have we had much resolution on that front on the customer service side?
GIKAS: Small drips and drabs. That's some good news for Alltel customers, Verizon does have, it's a small step but they have a plan, they prorate their -- well all carriers have very hefty termination fees of $175 to $200.
VELSHI: But that's something we've seen an evolution in, more and more prorate it which means as you get closer to the end of your contract --
GIKAS: Well, yes. And Verizon deducts $5 off that fee for every month that you have the contract. So as you approach the end of the contract, your determination fee will be much smaller, but a lot of consumer groups are pushing for those fees, those reductions to be a little bit more generous.
VELSHI: What happens is people decide they want to get a new phone and in order to do that at the discounted rates, phones have these ridiculous prices. It could be $500 but it's free if you take a two- year contract. That seems to be other common complaints, too.
GIKAS: And also they should look at what they use. One of the ways phone companies make money off of you is if you underestimate or overestimate the service that you need. If you buy a 400 minute a month plan and you're only using 300 minutes a month, well you're giving them $10 or $15 more a month.
VELSHI: And they know that you can call up the company and say over the last year, tell me what I've used and they can tell you really which program, which monthly plan will suit you the best.
GIKAS: Exactly. And it's a game they're asking to you play and you're locked into it. You're asked to pro-ticket for the next two years what you're going to use and if you go over or under, they're going to make money. If you don't use enough or if you go over, you can pay up to 45 cents a minute.
VELSHI: Do they let you change between those plans easily now?
GIKAS: They do but you have to be careful, these rules aren't written in to the contract in many cases. They may just automatically do it. So if you know up front when you call to change a plan, especially if you're adding, if you're adding minutes to your plan or adding a data plan or text messaging, they shouldn't do it, but make sure you have that understanding when you're discussing this on the phone and hopefully you can get a written as well.
VELSHI: Mike Gikas good to talk to you, associate editor at "Consumer Reports.
Coming up, we put the presidential contenders to the test. We want to tell you what you need to know to determine whether Barack Obama or John McCain is the best bet for your wallet. Stay with us we'll tell you when we come back on YOUR MONEY.
VELSHI: Well, we now know that it will be Barack Obama squaring off against John McCain in November. So what is that going to mean for "Your Money" very specifically?
CNNmoney.com's senior writer Jeanne Sahadi joins us now with a look at the candidates' plan.
Jeanne, I do not envy you this job but you've done a fantastic job of trying to pars everything that they're saying about the economy starting with taxes.
JEANNE SAHADI, CNNMONEY.COM SENIOR WRITER: Yes.
VELSHI: You know taxes really are -- they may not be as sexy a topic as gasoline or as foreclosure, but they are the important one.
SAHADI: Right. VELSHI: They're the one that's going to last.
SAHADI: Nothing I cover is sexy.
SAHADI: And I may even argue gas prices aren't sexy. They're just...
VELSHI: They're just there.
SAHADI: ... trouble.
Yes -- taxes have some pretty stark difference in how they approach what they want to do to the tax code. Both of them want to extent Bush's tax cuts. But Obama only wants to do it to a certain degree. He only wants to extend them for everybody except people making more than roughly $250,000.
VELSHI: Which by -- from a percentage perspective is the vast majority of Americans.
SAHADI: That's right.
VELSHI: In other words, 99 percent of the Americans will still get the tax cut under Barack Obama.
VELSHI: It's the wealthiest who won't?
SAHADI: That's right. He also wants to come up with some new tax breaks for middle and lower income families. He wants to expand the (INAUDIBLE) income tax credit. He wants to exempt seniors who make less than $50,000 from paying income tax.
So he's -- despite his complaints about McCain being just like President Bush, you know, he's signed on to some of these tax cuts himself so.
VELSHI: Right. And President Bush made a speech the other day where he said 43 million Americans will lose the benefit of the tax credit. There's -- just to be clear, there's no one running for president who thinks...
VELSHI: ... that those tax cuts should all go away so.
SAHADI: Not yet anyway.
VELSHI: Not yet. All right. Let's...
SAHADI: Do you want to talk about Senator McCain or...
VELSHI: Yes. Let's talk about him. SAHADI: He wants to keep the tax cuts in place for everyone and he wants to lower corporate tax rates. He is -- he's completely on board with this as an economic growth model.
VELSHI: He feels that if you lower the tax rates for businesses they'll have more money to expand and hire people?
SAHADI: That's right.
There has been a move towards corporate tax reform for the last few years. The argument is, if you made things simpler for organizations and you flattened their rates, that, in fact, that would -- there wouldn't so much tax avoidance among companies. It's yet to be born out there way but that's -- that's kind of the theory.
VELSHI: All right. And Barack Obama has sort of hinted that he might raise those tax rates. This is the one you've studied. Social Security -- very complicated.
SAHADI: Social security...
VELSHI: How do we -- what's a simple way of explaining how they differ on Social Security.
SAHADI: Well, Senator Obama really is the only candidate so far who's been very specific in one of his proposals and it's not a comprehensive proposal. He simply wants to increase the amount of income subject to the payroll tax which on Social Security so that just means higher income folks would be subject to more Social Security tax than they pay now.
He hasn't made it clear, though, whether they're benefits would also go up as a result of them paying more into the system. So if that's a solution to help the long-term shortfall it's not clear how much it's going to help because we don't have enough details.
Senator McCain has said he -- given his druthers he does not want to raise taxes, he'd rather reduce the growth and benefit. But he's also said, I -- you know, I recognizes that it's going to require a bipartisan solution.
They also differ on account. They -- Senator Obama is opposed to having individual investment accounts. Senator McCain supports them but he now says he doesn't want to divert money from Social Security.
VELSHI: And then that'll be like a 401K kind of a thing?
VELSHI: That's the idea behind it.
SAHADI: Right. It's to augment your benefits because, you know, if you think that you have to cut the growth in benefits...
SAHADI: ... in order to compensate seniors...
SAHADI: ... in the future you might want to have another account that pays out some money but how his account is to be funded is not quite clear yet.
VELSHI: OK. Did a great job on Social -- Security and taxes. And now we're going to give you the easy one.
SAHADI: Yes, the really...
VELSHI: It's the one that you can actually make a clear distinction...
VELSHI: ... between them and it's on health care.
SAHADI: Right. The hornet's nest of...
SAHADI: ... the next president's problems. Yes. It's really a difference between governments and the markets.
Senator Obama -- his plan would require children -- even without a mandate -- children would have to have health insurance. So parents would have to...
VELSHI: Pay for that.
SAHADI: Pay for that.
SAHADI: But he would give them some cost effective ways to do that and he would mandate that companies contribute to worker's health cares in a -- in a few ways -- one of a few ways, provide a plan, give them money directly to pay for their health care, or barring those two things contribute to a national health network that he would like to create of public and private plans for people who have trouble getting insurance.
VELSHI: So like a pool that they can...
SAHADI: A pool.
VELSHI: And John McCain takes a fairly standard conservative approach to this and says the market can fix this problem better than the government.
SAHADI: Right. The -- his drive to drag down health care costs, he thinks, is best achieved by relying on the individual. So -- and he's coming up with a pretty radical change which is changing the tax treatment on the money you get to pay for health insurance. Right now, if you work for your employer, you get subsidized. It's tax-free income to you. John McCain would actually subject the employer's portion to income tax for you so you'd be paying income tax on it, but in exchange, he'd give you a tax credit which is a dollar- for-dollar reduction.
But it would be a cap. And the idea is, if I know what my limit is -- on how much I can get as a tax credit, I'm going to be much more cost conscious about the health care I choose and insurers and doctors are going to be much more competitive in trying to get my business.
He also would expand the choices in health care plans letting consumers buy across state lines and buy outside of company plans.
There's a lot of criticism, though, of McCain's plans and also of Obama's plan.
SAHADI: And I know we don't have time to get into.
VELSHI: You should read Jeanne's stuff on Money.com because she really does know all this kind of stuff.
You don't find yourself having these kinds of conversations like with friends after work and stuff, do you?
VELSHI: Because you're really smart. But this...
SAHADI: So boring, I know.
VELSHI: We love having you here. You're never boring to us.
Jeanne Sahadi with CNNmoney.com.
Coming up, with unemployment on the rise, we're going to seek out your silver lining. Believe it or not, there is one. Where you can find a job in this struggling economy next on "Your Money."
VELSHI: The employment report came out for May this week and the results show the U.S. has lost jobs for the fifth straight month. Coupled with an unemployment rate which saw its biggest increase in two decade, well, you get the picture. The U.S. economy is shaky.
The Labor Department says unemployment jumped to 5.5 percent in May. That's the biggest monthly increase since 1986. Employers cut 49,000 jobs last month. The economy has now lost more than 300,000 jobs this year.
Minorities have been particularly hard hit. In fact, the unemployment rate among Latinos is rising faster than the rate for non-Hispanic workers in the United States, as the steep decline in construction industry eliminates hundreds of thousands of jobs.
And as you can see, the unemployment rate among African-Americans was double -- nearly double that of whites.
Job losses are mounting in many different sectors. As the nation's unemployment rate continues to climb, so where are the jobs in this slumping economy? It's all we want to know and Allan Chernoff who follows this very closely, there are -- some jobs created. Somebody asked me this morning, does that mean if we lost 49,000 jobs, there wasn't a single job created?
ALLAN CHERNOFF, CNN SENIOR CORRESPONDENT: Sure. Plenty of jobs were created but it's the net number that we're talking about here. And certainly lots of careers that seemed stable years ago no longer are. Companies have been chopping jobs left and right as they try to boost their profits in this tough economy. But there are some job sectors that are relatively recession-resistant like nursing.
CHERNOFF (voice over): Marie Tessinari thought she had a dream job when she worked at ABC News as a production coordinator.
MARIA TESSINARI, NURSE: In the beginning, I was bright eyed and bushy tailed and I thought, oh my gosh, this is wonderful.
CHERNOFF: But after several years, she realized television news was more hard work than glamour, and as friends were laid off, she thought it wasn't terribly secure.
TESSINARI: You realize that, you know, this is not a stable industry. This is not an industry where I know I will have a job for the next 15, 20 years.
Let's see what we have going here.
I was inching towards 30 and I realized I don't want to wake up at 50 and be unhappy at what I'm doing. Life is too short, especially, you know, after what I'd been through.
CHERNOFF: Maria's dad suffered from a debilitating illness and her mom was stricken with a brain aneurysm. Caring for both of them until they passed helped Maria realized that nursing on a professional level was her true calling.
So she went back to school to become an oncology nurse.
TESSINARI: I need to make people feel good on a bigger level.
CHERNOFF: Even in this slumping economy, health care employment is up. Last year there were 113,000 more nurses in the workforce -- the biggest increase since 2002.
Some are retired nurses going back to work because of the economy.
NANCY CORCORAN, HACKENSACK UNIV., MEDICAL CENTER: Well, some may have gotten laid off and they don't have benefits. They need health care benefits, so they're coming back to obtain benefits for their families.
TESSINARI: All right, Papi(ph). This should make you feel better.
CHERNOFF: The benefits for Maria include helping people for a living as well as knowing that a nursing career means a job for life.
TESSINARI: You have to know that you have a paycheck coming in. You have to know that you have somewhere to go. There's always jobs in health care. It's the human body, it's health. We're not going anywhere.
CHERNOFF: Maria says she has never been so happy going to work every single day, especially knowing that she can always land a job.
VELSHI: What do they say about the TV news business? I guess we should all be looking out for something like that.
What are the other benefits of nursing? It is -- health care is definitely one of the growing areas. Certainly in this jobs report, it was the -- it was the biggest gainer. But what are the other advantages of this kind of career?
CHERNOFF: And that says a lot about health care...
CHERNOFF: ... when you've got such a sour economy.
CHERNOFF: But certainly, in addition to the fact you can find jobs, it is a growing area, the population is aging, you can also take it with you.
CHERNOFF: Portability and the hours are extremely flexible. Lots of jobs, you know, very rigid...
CHERNOFF: ... and they keep you working late. Nursing -- you can put in a 10, 12 hour shift, just work a few days a week, works out nicely.
VELSHI: All right. Good stuff. Allan, thanks very much. Allan Chernoff.
And there other jobs. We'll bring those to you here on YOUR MONEY.
Coming up next on the show, if you think the job or your job is on the chopping block you are not going to want to miss this next segment. It may help you make some decisions. Stay with us. (COMMERCIAL BREAK)
VELSHI: One of the biggest things about this economy that we're dealing with right now are job issues and a lot of people are getting laid off in America. Some people think it's obvious if you get laid off from a major corporation or even a smaller one that you're going to get a severance package.
Well, you can't count on that, says career consultant Cynthia Shapiro. She's a former human resources executive who says in a slow economy the old rules don't necessarily apply.
Cynthia, we continue to report on layoffs in the thousands in some cases.
CYNTHIA SHAPIRO, CAREER STRATEGIST: Yes
VELSHI: And when that happens at a big corporation it all happens for people in suspended time. I mean they...
VELSHI: They just all get called or told what's going on. In many cases they are offered a severance package. You may have expectation as to what that severance package is, because you've heard of other people being laid off.
You're saying it's not the case, it's not consistent?
SHAPIRO: That's exactly right. People get shell shocked. It all happens all at once and they don't know what to do. And they go on precedent. They may hear that there are layoffs coming, maybe, two months ahead of a time.
SHAPIRO: And they say, oh, well, the company has always taken care of people in the past or they did a generous buyout a couple months ago. But in a down economy, you cannot count on that. Severance isn't a right. It's not something legally required.
SHAPIRO: So it's -- it could be there, it could not be there, and you can't really count on a company that may be afraid of staying around and afraid that it's not going to have money to survive to take care of you as you leave.
VELSHI: So if you're an at-will employee, the kind that can be fired...
VELSHI: ... or laid off at anytime, do you have right? Is there any right that you actually have? When you go into HR, when they lay you off and you don't think you've got the fair package, what -- do you have rights?
SHAPIRO: That's a great question. You do. I mean there are certain things that you're always going to get. You're always going to get your vacation pay that you didn't -- or you know, they didn't pay.
VELSHI: Right. That's yours.
SHAPIRO: That's yours.
SHAPIRO: Exactly yours. And you're also going to get, you know, unemployment -- if you're eligible for unemployment, that's a whole other issue.
SHAPIRO: A lot of people being laid off right now are not eligible yet. But those two things are things that you are absolutely entitled to and that you're going to walk out with.
But if you are counting on a big severance package because somebody got it, you know, last month and so you've waited -- instead of job searching, you waited until you were actually in this position of going into the layoff. You may find they just -- are not offering it and you're left with just, you know, a couple of days vacation and unemployment.
VELSHI: OK. So severance package is not an option in looking for a new job.
VELSHI: You shouldn't be sort of hedging towards trying to get one unless you happen to know what that is going to be.
SHAPIRO: Yes, don't hang out and wait for it and hope it's going to be there for you.
SHAPIRO: Because you could just be left hanging.
VELSHI: Is there a typical severance package that you would know happens?
SHAPIRO: You know every company is different. And like I said, sometimes it's dictated by the economy. Sometimes companies just can't give the big severance packages...
SHAPIRO: ... they used to get. But a lot of times severance is an exchange for signing a separation agreement.
VELSHI: Right. SHAPIRO: And separation agreements have become very, very common. And basically what they are is they're, you know, filtered in with the exit paperwork and they sat -- they have you sign your rights away. It says you'll never see the company. It says that you will, you know, hold them harmless and all this kind of thing. Some of them say you can't work for a competition for six to...
SHAPIRO: ... eight, nine months.
VELSHI: Right. So you need to understand that very fully before you sign it.
SHAPIRO: Yes. And that is your -- that's your trigger. If you see that, then there should be money attached to it. There should be a -- you know a nice severance package attached to signing that that you wouldn't normally get.
VELSHI: So that you have to take another job. So it's funny they compensate you for not working in the industry.
SHAPIRO: It can be. It can be.
VELSHI: Tell me about COBRA. Does that -- the right for you to pay for your health care...
VELSHI: ... at a rate that is much more than you (INAUDIBLE).
SHAPIRO: Astronomical. Yes.
VELSHI: Should you negotiate that right? Or -- and is it typically offered?
SHAPIRO: You -- COBRA is something that you definitely have a right to but it's very, very expensive. That may not actually -- a lot of people get shell shocked and they just take COBRA.
SHAPIRO: And that's not necessarily what you should do. You have 30 days to find your own health insurance.
VELSHI: So look around.
SHAPIRO: But that -- absolutely, look around. But that aside, you know, when you have that separation agreement, that is your trigger to negotiate. You can ask for paid COBRA -- the company...
SHAPIRO: ... to pay your COBRA for three so six months, which can be worth its weight in gold, give you more time to figure it out. You can ask for them to pay for outplacement services for you. You can negotiate that you get your bonus you would have gotten had you stayed with the company.
SHAPIRO: And -- I mean the worst thing they can do is say no, and then you can decide what's best for you. But in exchange for signing that document that is, you know, signing your rights away and helping them sleep at night and letting them know that you're never going to come back and cause them any grief, you should fully negotiate and ask for whatever it is you feel you need.
VELSHI: All right. So you're going to feel terrible when it's happening, but be clearheaded.
VELSHI: Take a little time to figure it out. And I guess you can't -- it doesn't really matter what they think of you at that point. So you might as well...
SHAPIRO: What are they going to do, fire you?
VELSHI: Might as well ask what you have to.
Cynthia, thank you for joining us.
SHAPIRO: Thank you so much.
SHAPIRO: This is a important topic and I'm glad we know a little bit more about it.
Well, you might not be -- worried about losing your job. In fact, you might have thought you're getting a promotion, and then your boss gives it to someone else.
Well, appointment attorney Robin Bond is going to tell us what you can do about that.
Robin, in a tough -- thank you for joining us. In a tough environment many people who get passed over for a promotion might not think that they're in a position to make waves or to fight that at that point. How do you even know whether you should or can respond to being passed over for a promotion?
ROBIN BOND, WORKPLACE LEGAL EXPERT: Well, the knowing is the difficult part because so many factors go into a promotion decision that knowing whether or not you've been discriminated against is really a very difficult thing. But there are generally four legal requirements that you have to prove if you're going to make a wrongfully denied promotion claim.
BOND: So first of which is what -- or are you a member of a protected class? Were you qualified and did you apply for the promotion? Were you rejected despite your qualifications? And was someone else selected who was equally or less qualified than you were and who was not a member of the protected class?
VELSHI: Now this -- if you're not a member of the protected class -- class protected by gender, race, national origin, disability, do you have a case at all?
BOND: Well, you know, again, this all depends on the facts, Ali. Cases rise and fall on the facts, but generally Title VII of the Civil Rights Act determines whether or not one has a case or not. You have to be a member of a protected class...
BOND: ... in order to have a lawsuit.
VELSHI: Fair enough.
Now let's say you've done a little bit of this home work, you are a member of a protected class, you feel that you were passed over, you've examine who got the job, you think that you are better qualified than they were, what is your next step? Is it the HR? Is it your supervisor or is to a lawyer?
BOND: Well, now, you know, if you -- if you feel you have been passed over, generally, what I would do is I would say, look -- take a good hard look at what you want to accomplish, because you certainly do have options, but you have to figure out what you want to achieve.
Because if you want to have a future with the company, the first thing you want to do is not rush off and make threats about lawsuits, but try and build some rapport with your supervisor.
I would generally encourage people to take a good hard look at the evidence and say, well, how did my performance and my qualifications really stack up against the person who got the job? And when I look at that data, if I would say no reasonable person looking at this information would have selected this person instead of me.
BOND: Then get to an employment attorney who represents people. And say, hey, look at the facts. Look at the data that I've compiled. What would you do in this instance? Yes.
VELSHI: Is it clear that if you do feel that you've been passed over and maybe you've even spoken to your supervisor and try and reasons to why you weren't promoted -- if you're not satisfied with that, then it is an employment attorney, not your HR department that you want to go to next with a complaint.
BOND: Absolutely. I think go to the employment attorney first so you can be strategic and know what you should do, because absolutely, I'm suggesting go to the employment attorney not so you can immediately file a lawsuit but so that you can be strategic in how you approach your supervisor or approach your human resources department.
Because I will often coach clients to go back to their supervisor and strategically say something like, you know, I was really disappointed that I didn't get selected for this job. I'm very committed to the company. I'm committed to advancing my career. I'd like to know where I fell short. What do I need to do to make sure I get selected the next time?
VELSHI: What's your opinion of the remedy? Does it normally result -- if somebody really has been unfairly passed over, what typically comes out of that?
BOND: Well, hopefully this kind of a nice conversation with a boss is going to do one of two things. I mean, hopefully, it will build the rapport, and the boss will say, gee, I think very highly of you now. I'm going to help you get on the fast track for the next promotion.
You know because it's illegal under federal law to retaliate against a person who complains about being passed over for promotion. But we all know that you have to be delicate as to how you raise these issues of workplace wrong. That's why I suggest you talk to an employment attorney to find out how strategically to do this, rather than running off when you're angry and complaining to HR or complaining to your supervisor.
VELSHI: But there's a good chance by the time I've walked into your office the end result is going to be some separation from my company.
BOND: Well, you know, that's the second thing. You know, obviously, if the boss is not receptive to you, if you find out that when you go to talk to the boss in a very positive constructive way, you're hitting a brick wall, you're getting a bogus reason for why you weren't selected. You may have to go back to the attorney and say, look, it looks like I'm not going anywhere fast.
Then probably what's going to happen is the attorney is going to write a letter or you're going to approach HR and a separation package is likely to be what happens next.
VELSHI: All right, Robin. Great conversation. Thank you so much for telling us a bit about the subject. We're all a little bit wiser now about things to do in this tough work environment, this tough job environment where we've lost more than 300,000 jobs this year in the United States.
You do have rights no matter how bad it seems.
We're coming right back with more on YOUR MONEY. But first this week's "Right on Your Money."
VELSHI (on camera): Protect yourself. When it comes to this economy, having easy access to cash gives you a safety net for the unexpected, like losing your job. So you should have enough on hand to cover your lifestyle for several months.
WALTER UPDEGRAVE, SENIOR EDITOR, MONEY MAGAZINE: For my emergency reserve, these three to six months that I need, your primary concern is safety. You're not trying to get the absolute highest yield.
VELSHI: The key is putting your money in an investment you can withdraw from any time without penalty.
UPDEGRAVE: Security is of utmost importance. So you want to stick primarily to savings accounts, money market account, short-term CDs. You want to do the best that you can within those categories.
VELSHI: So shop around and remember, this is a low-risk, low-reward investment. That's why finding the best rate is your best bet.
UPDEGRAVE: You're still probably a little bit below 4 percent so you may be still losing out a little bit to inflation, but you can still do a little bit better than, for example, just getting the average return or just going -- automatically going to your local bank.
VELSHI: And that's "Right on Your Money."
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Go to CNN.com/rightonyourmoney to learn what's financially right for your lifestyle. And for more tips on managing your money, pick up any of these magazines on newsstands now.
VELSHI: All right. We want to hear what you think about jobs, the price of gas, the price of oil, and other concerns with this economy. Drop us a line, our address is YourMoney@CNN.com.
Thank you for joining us for this edition of YOUR MONEY. We'll see you right back here next week, Saturday at 1:00 and Sunday at 3:00.
See you then.