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How to Survive the New Higher Skilled Jobs Market; Surviving on a Teacher's Salary; Card Act Falls Short; Off Season Shopping

Aired February 5, 2011 - 09:30   ET


CHRISTINE ROMANS, HOST: You've heard it and it makes you worried about America, those jobs we lost are not coming back. In their place, though, jobs that required more education, more specialized skills and math ability. It didn't use to be so hard to find a decent job with good pay. Have they really vanished and how do you adapt and survive?

Harry Holder is the author of "Where are all the Good Jobs Going?"

Harry, welcome to the program. It's been called a lost decade by some people when you look at the quantity of jobs lost in manufacturing, in housing, in construction, hundreds of thousands of, many time, good paying jobs. Are they gone forever? Have they vanished, really?

HARRY HOLDER, AUTHOR: Not all. I think some of them will come back, I think in construction, some parts of manufacturing, certainly a lot of the professional services, some of those will come back, but certainly not all of them and there will be other good high-quality jobs in their place that require somewhat different skills.

ROMANS: Like what? Like what jobs with what skills?

HOLDER: I think in health care, there's a whole range, everything from doctors and nurses down to the licensed practical nurses and the lab techs. Certainly in construction and manufacturing, some of those jobs require more specialized technical skills, machinists, folks of that nature. And then in many parts ever the service sector you'll see jobs come back that require at least postsecondary, if you want to get paid well.

ROMANS: I know when we look at the computer industry, there's software engineers that are -- and computer analysts, and all kinds of different computer engineering kinds of jobs. We talk about health care, we hear all the time about these high-end, I call them high-end jobs in health care, but of them need a lot of specialized training and the big bulk of jobs being created in health care are very low- skill, low-wage jobs, which is concerning if you're trying to find a foot out of manufacturing and into health care.

HOLDER: Well, that's right. But there ask does remain that solid middle that requires something beyond high school, but below college, and a lot of that technical job, the lab tech, the x-ray tech, the phlebotomists and my sense is that given with the age structure, the population looks like, there's going to be a lot of action there going forward and that's a pretty good bet.

ROMANS: That's what I like to hear, a lot of action, there. Now, the question is, how do we match the skills of people with the jobs that are open? There are more than three million job openings right now in America, 15 million people out of work, but there are three million job openings. How do you make sure -- and when I ask CEOs, you know, why aren't you hiring? They say, Christine, we have jobs open, but I can't find the people with the right skills. Now, how do you match the people with skills?

HOLDER: You know, I think we need to do a better job in this country of linking the education system to our economic development. What that means is, you don't just send kids off to community college with no sense. You give them some career counseling. Like people who look at the data where the jobs are going. You make sure that the education system is linked to the workforce system and people that do job training that reach out to employers, what works more like a system rather than these disconnected silos that are unconnected to each other.

If somebody goes to community college, they should have some sense what jobs are available and that the classes they're taking are relevant for jobs that actually are going to exist.

ROMANS: The problem is that in some cases you're retraining for something, or you see the writing on the wall and know where you want to be and then the labor market is changing, because of technology more quickly than American families are and more quickly than we can get educated for the next thing and in the middle there's that disconnect. Don't we need rote factory jobs in the middle to absorb a certain kind of population or I mean, don't we need some unskilled jobs? That pay well?

HOLDER: That's the thing. That's the key. There's a lot of unskilled jobs, but they're not going to pay well and those rote factory jobs --

ROMANS: That horse is out of the box. That's a debate for 10 years ago.

HOLDER: That's gone. They're in China and Vietnam and Thailand and place like that. That's gone. What we want to focus on is creating good jobs that do require some skills and then helping workers get the skills. Now you sort of said you never know what the future's going to hold. You give people a good, solid base of general skills and then if the wind blows a little differently, you help them retrain or retool a little bit to fit whatever's out there.

ROMANS: Tell me about career academies. You have this idea, and you think that in some places around the country there are career pathway programs and things that are working.

HOLDER: That's right. The career academies in high schools, there are schools within broader schools that train you for the IT sector or the financial sector. And the evidence is very strong that they do very well, that the students who go there, even if they don't go to college right away, manage to do well coming out.

In other places they are developing what you called career pathways that do usually involve some community college, some work experience, and there again it's making sure that whatever the skill level people have, it's matched to jobs that actually exist and the training they get in the meantime.

ROMANS: All right, Harry Holder, "Where are all the Jobs Going?" the name the book. It's a question we're all asking and trying to figure where we're positioned for what the new jobs that are coming. Thanks so much.

I want to turn now, you know, we've laid it out, which jobs gone forever. which new ones are coming, so let's make sure we can make ourselves fire-proof in the meantime.

Rod Kurtz is the executive editor of "AOL Small Business." OK.

ROD KURTZ, AOL SMALL BUSINESS: I'm the fire department.

ROMANS: Harry laid it out for us. In all of its gory details. Look, you know, we have a lot of things to think about on the policy front. You know, is our education system going to be good enough to make sure everyone's got the math and science skills, are we going to be nimble enough to be able to follow these jobs? In the meantime, I don't want to get a pink slip. What do I do?

KURTZ: No one does and that's the most important thing. I think you laid out some very important statistics and we hate boring people with statistics but you mentioned 15 million people still out of work. If you're in a job right now, a good job, what you have to realize is there are 15 million who want your job, right now. So you have to do everything you can to hold on to it. And I think there are little trick along the way that you can do to make sure you are fire-proof, that when the pink slips are going out, you're the last to get one who's get one of those envelopes.

ROMANS: This is sort of performance evaluation time, you know, I mean, so one of the things I was just reporting on was a great study that said, if you're find a surprise in your performance evaluation, both you and your boss are not on the same page, you need to be on the same page with your boss, right?

KURTZ: Absolutely. I think you not only want to track your own accomplishments along the way so that you can go into that meeting and say I've done X, Y and Z, I took on these new projects, but also little things like body language really matter a lot. If you're sitting in your performance review rolling your eyes and acting frustrated.

ROMANS: Do not do that, 9.4 unemployment, do not roll your eyes.

KURTZ: Exactly, you think about it, you know, that kind of stuff matters and you do have a track record that you can point to, but your personality, you know, you don't want anyone as boss on your team that doesn't want to be there, so you have to take, you know, unfortunately, take that criticism constructively.

ROMANS: You know, yesterday I was talking to a guy who is a baby boomer hires people, he's got people in 70s all the way down to the 20s and he was saying, I want ideas, I want contact and want to know how much money you can make for me. And that's the bottom line, those three things. I don't care how old you are, I don't care how long you've been out of work, I don't care what job you had before: Ideas, contacts, how much money you can make for me.

KURTZ: The status quo is not enough anymore, again, you have to think of this kind of as a sports metaphor that your boss is a coach and he wants players that are motivated so when it comes to that performance review or even just during the normal course of the workday, you want to come in with new goals, say, you know, I really care about my career, I care about this company, here are three things that I'm going to do in the new year to try to help, you know, advance the bottom line.

ROMANS: What about, tricks that can backfire. You want to make sure that you're not -- don't brag. You know, you got be a little careful what you're doing out there.

KURTZ: You know, bosses have good B.S. detectors, that's why they're bosses. So, you know, they know if you're sucking up. If you've been biding your time for six months and all of a sudden you come in with, you know, gusto, they know something's up.

I think the other key thing is, again sticking with this team metaphor, anything you do to further your own sort of candidacy at the expense of other employees, it shows them that you're not a team player.

ROMANS: OK, Harry Holder, thanks so much, Rod Kurtz. Very nice to see you guys. Have a great weekend.

One job, quite frankly, this nation would be very different out is good, dedicated teachers. But surviving on a teacher's salary can be tough, really tough. Up next, you're going to meet one family who's surviving and thriving on a teacher's salary.


ROMANS: You heard the president in the State of the Union make a big push for young Americans to seek jobs as teachers, but surviving on a teacher's salary can be tough. The average starting salary just over $33,000, that according to the American Federation of Teachers. One family, though, can inspire us all to be teachers.

I sat down with Danny Kofke, the author of "How to Survive and Perhaps Thrive on a Teacher's Salary."


ROMANS: You make $41,000 a year. You can survive with a family of four on a teacher's salary, but you have to account for every penny coming in and out of that household.

DANNY KOFKE, AUTHOR: Definitely, 41 grand is not a lot of money, so if we did spend money frivolously, it would be very tough. So, we do -- every single dollar that we spend, we know exactly where it's going and how we are spending.

ROMANS: You know, say the kids have nicer cell phones than you do.

D. KOFKE: Some of them in my school do, absolutely. I probably one, I pay $10 a month on it. I live about three miles from school, so it's just not a need for us. You know, some people need the iPhone and everything.

ROMANS: We hear all of this about it has to be a two-income, you know, to be middle class, you have to have two incomes. You stay at home, Tracy, and raising your daughters and you are living on the one teacher's salary.


ROMANS: Hello, there. Waving your hands. Good. All right. Ava and Ella (ph), tell me how old you are?

T. KOFKE: How old are you?


D. KOFKE: How old are you?


ROMANS: Six and a half. The half matters. It does matter?

Now, when both are them are in kindergarten you're going to try to maybe pick up some more hours in substitute teaching?

T. KOFKE: Yes, it all just depends where we are at that point in the game. I'd love to be able to just be free like I can now, do field trips, do things I need to do when they're sick, but yes, it is an option to be able to go back. So we'll just see. If I do, it probably will just be for a couple years and then maybe come back out by the time they're in middle school.

ROMANS: And you'd bank that money, right? You'd be banking that money for the future?

T. KOFKE: Absolutely.

ROMANS: It's not like you're going to upgrade, you guy, always looking toward thrift and putting away for the future?

D. KOFKE: Well, the goal would be, eventually if she did go back when Ella got in kindergarten for her to be able to stay home once Ava got into middle school. Just because I feel right now, especially with girls it's important to have a parent at home if we can do it. So, since we've been the last six years living on my salary I figured we could continue to do so and then just bank as much of hers as possible.

ROMANS: My sister is a teacher and she is the best budgeter I have ever met, because you -- to pay the car bill, and to pay the house loan, and to pay for a baby-sitter, if you have a baby-sitter, and to pay for shoes and gas, all of this goes quickly when you're making, 35, 38, 41, $45,000 a year. Did you ever consider going out and making more money in someplace else?

D. KOFKE: I actually did. It was about five years ago I had the chance to sell flooring for a high-end flooring company making $100,000 a year.

ROMANS: A sales job.

D. KOFKE: A sales job. And at that time I was teaching first grade, so I left, and for our viewers who don't know first grade it's a very tough grade, but it's also very rewarding. Some kids come in, they don't even know how to write their name. Nine months later, they're reading chapter books. So I went from doing that to selling $5,000 area rugs and I was a horrible sales person because I really did not care whether someone bought the rug and then it was probably two months later, Tracy's like you've just kind of lost your spark. And I said, honestly, if I made a million dollars a year doing this, I'm much happier in the classroom, at that time making $37,000 a year and about four months later I got back another classroom and haven't looked back.

T. KOFKE: And the time with the family. He came home two hours later at night. It just wasn't for us.

ROMANS: So, what are the advantages to being a teacher then, besides just the satisfaction, but there's a family life, there?

D. KOFKE: Right, I mean, you know, our day goes until 3:30, that's when we're able to go home if we don't have paperwork and everything. You know, we have the summers, I mean, they're shorter and shorter and I actually do summer school with some of my students, so it's not full summer, but just the hours and there's a lot of times that I can finish paperwork at school so I'm not bringing it home with me. And then when I am home I'm able to devote my time to my family.

ROMANS: So much the middle-class American dream, Tracy, is a cruise, taking the kids to Disney, where you pay $4 for a plate of French fries. I mean, are these things in your budget? Are these things not in your budget?

T. KOFKE: We do, we budget them. If there are other things that come along, maybe I'll baby-sit for somebody and I start just plugging that money away. And I think that that's what is even better, because when we do actually buy that thing or go someplace, we've spent our own money, we've saved up for it and it means even that much more. So, yes, there are -- I mean, we've taken her to Disney, we haven't gone to this one, yet. So, we absolutely. ROMANS: Well, thank you so much for joining us. Really appreciate it. Best of luck to you. And the book is called "How to Survive on a Teacher's Salary." It can be done. You just have to really watch every penny and you can have it.

T. KOFKE: Absolutely.

ROMANS: All right, thank you so much.

D. KOFKE: Thank you.


ROMANS: Before you can become a teacher, you've got to go to school. So, when can a student loan actually be considered income? You're not going to believe this.


ROMANS: The competition is heating up for your credit card info. We first stumbled across this report from an Internet security firm on Gawker and boy, did it get us talking around the office. We're talking about a cybercriminal black market. Basic credit card details can be purchased for as little as $2 per card, $80 gets a potential criminal access to your guaranteed credit line or balance, $700 gets someone access to accounts with $82,000 available or more. Prices are even higher if the accounts have a history of online shopping or use payment platforms such as PayPal.

And you can get an actual, physical credit card printed for just $180 plus the cost of those banking details. So, it's easier than ever for some thieves to get your credit card information, but it's harder than ever for others to get a legitimate credit card. New credit card reform may actually be discriminating against you. Details, next.


ROMANS: That really important credit card reform called the CARD Act or Credit Card Accountability, Responsible and Disclosure Act, well, it's supposed to protect customers from the deceptive practices of the credit card industry, but my next guest says it's misfired in a few places.

John Ulzheimer is president of Consumer Education at

So, look, if you don't have income, you can't get a new credit card. The idea here was that Congress didn't want credit card companies giving out, handing out this plastic like candy to people who couldn't pay back. But stay-at-homes moms if they want to get a credit card, they're shut out, now.

JOHN ULZHEIMER, SMARTCREDIT.COM: It's almost like they forget about the entire population of stay-at-home moms and stay-at-home dads who, an act in commerce on behalf of the household, but don't actually have an income in their name. This absolutely freezes them out from opening up any new credit card in the household name.

ROMANS: What if the spouse cosigns? That's OK? Not always the best idea?

ULZHEIMER: That is a way around that particular provision of the Card Act, it's OK. I'm going to give it a C as far as strategy grade. OK because it gets you around the provision, but it also locks in now two people who are liable for payment which means that if something happens, one files bankruptcy, they go through a divorce, which is a huge problem when you're trying to separate debts and liabilities, it locks two people. The lender's fine with it because now we have two liable instead of one, but it's not necessarily the best strategy.

ROMANS: So, what's the alternative, I mean, get a job, I guess? Get some sort of income? What else could they do?

ULZHEIMER: Well, I think we have to be realistic. People aren't going to go get a job just so they can open up a credit card. And here's where it's going to sting people in the wallet. A lot of people take advantage of these retail store offers for 10 percent off, 20 percent off for some sort of major purchase. Well, if they can't open a card and they use an existing credit card, they're not going to get a discount. So, they're actually going to spend more on the merchandise.

ROMANS: And retailers primarily target women for these cards.

ULZHEIMER: I didn't want to be the one to say that, but you're absolute right. So this is going to disproportionately affect women versus men.

ROMANS: What about people under 21? Because we read a report this week that kids in college were getting around these provisions, these provisions meant to protect college kids from getting tons of credit card debt before they graduate, they're getting around it by claiming their student loans as income so they can get a credit card.

ULZHEIMER: You're trying to tell an entire population of people who have been trying to get around the under 21 drinking age for eons, now you can't get a credit card --


ULZHEIMER: They're very trained to get around these provisions. They're actually doing it two ways, first, claiming student loan income as income, which doesn't make sense. It's debt, not income. Second, and you're going to love this, students co-signing for students.


ULZHEIMER: Yes. They're actually getting around this by having these little -- instead of having fake I.D. parties, they're having co-sign parties, now.

ROMANS: If your kid co-signed for another kid and the other kid defaulted on their loans, then you're kid's in trouble.

ULZHEIMER: Tough. That's exactly right. Both people are equally liable for payment and equally at risk for non-payment. I don't know that they think that far ahead, Christine. The issue is hey, I need a credit card now, you're over 21, will you help me out?

ROMANS: All right, well, bottom like for people who are listening and trying to get a credit card, I mean what is the best thing to do? I mean, get a prepaid card, get a co-signer from your spouse, somebody who has been shut out, what do you think they should do?

ULZHEIMER: You know, I still love the strategy of being added as an authorized user on someone else's credit card. Because it's like a credit card with training wheels. It goes on your credit report, so you're maintaining and building a credit history, very important if you're ever on your own, but the liability just isn't there. So, if something happens, loses a job, gets a divorce, whatever, you can get off the liability train and you're in good shape.

ROMANS: (INAUDIBLE) there are a lot of people going through life changes who might need to good a good credit card that can't rely on the old one for whatever reason, and they're finding a whole new landscape out there. It's really interesting, John Ulzheimer, thank you so much for joining us, John, nice to see you.

ULZHEIMER: Thanks for having me.

ROMANS: Up next, what's on sale when and why? We'll tell you the best times to buy just about everything.


ROMANS: There's an old Wall Street proverb, you buy straw hats in winter and overcoats in summer. What it means is every product has its season and for the deals, you buy off season if you're a smart shopper. Adam Pash is the editor in chief of We're going to get to that TV in a minute. But first, lots of people thinking about buying winter stuff, right now.

What should we be buying right this second? What is out of season that's going to be a good deal for us?

ADAM PASH, LIFEHACKER.COM: Right, so right now everything's about the weather. It's freezing outside, so pretty much any product that is associated with things you would do outdoors that doesn't involve, say, skiing, it's a good time to buy now.

So, for example, a grill would be a good thing to buy now, not a lot of people are eager to go outside and start grilling today. Likewise, if it's in the middle of a blizzard, not a lot of us are thinking, gee, I wish I had a new bicycle. So, you can get great deals on things like that. Same with air conditioners where it's freezing. No one wants an air conditioner. But if you buy now, the retailer has a lot more incentive to sell it to you for cheap. ROMANS: I actually bought my grill in the middle of a January snowstorm and it was already put together. It was last year's top of the line version and it was, you know, literally half price, so that's what you have to be thinking.

PASH: Absolutely.

ROMANS: What about springtime? Spring is not the time to start buying your spring and summer attire because, frankly, that's the time of year they really want to get you to buy things full price. So, what should you be buying springtime?

PASH: Of course, so it's all about sort of timing things with the way retailers push things. So, when spring rolls around, say, around March, actually, a lot of Japanese television manufacturers, television, their fiscal year ends, which means then in April they're pushing out their new TVs and they also want to jump-start their earnings for the year. So, April is actually a great time to buy a new TV, especially if you don't need the latest and greatest. You can get really good discounts on last year's models.

By the time that say May rolls around, it's a great time to get the last year model of patio furniture. And you know, not a lot of us are real patio furniture aficionados, so if you're not really into what's coming out this year, last year's stuff will be just as good for you.

ROMANS: I'd be so embarrassed to have last year's patio furniture, really, Adam.


PASH: I know. I know.

ROMANS: Isn't patio furniture, patio furniture, right? So get it on sale if you can. In the summer, you said that's the time to get the big appliances. Why is the summertime the best time for big appliances?

PASH: Well, what happens is sort of toward end of summer, the new stock comes in, new appliances. There's going to be big pushes on the floors of retailers about a month before that, so a lot of times maybe around August or September to get rid of last year's stuff. Again, a matter of sort of timing things with when manufacturers are trying to sort of like put new stuff out, when retailers are trying to clear up space on the floors.

ROMANS: Yes, I mean one of the things, we all know that the best time to stock up on candy is right after Halloween.

PASH: Absolutely.

ROMANS: You know, there are other good ones, too. You know, after Easter, whatever, you can stock up on the baskets for the next year. After Christmas and the holiday holidays, that's when you get the half price -- I mean, some of these we already know, but why wedding dresses in the last part of the year and home theaters later in the year? Why are those a good time to buy those things?

PASH: So, with wedding dresses, bridal shops know that there's going to be a lot of people who end up getting engaged over the holidays, over Christmas, for example, so they're going to be stocking up the shops in preparation for all those people. But in that interim time over the holidays when not a lot of people are actually buying wedding dresses before all those proposals go through, they've got a lot of stock and they want to sell things. So, if you go in that time, you can get a good deal.

With TVs, you know, this actually gets into that sort of Black Friday period which a lot of people know about already, but basically the time when manufacturers go from a loss on the year to a profit. And it's also the big push for the holidays, so a lot of stuff, there's a lot of really great sales going on to sort of boost those numbers to really get the numbers up.

ROMANS: We're still seeing, Adam, some of those sales right now too, because we know that spring is when they try to sell all their merchandise, most merchandise sold at full price happens in the spring. So, this is not the time to be rushing out buying full price, I mean, I think that's one of the tricks that everyone can try to learn but just being clever you can outsmart the retailers.

Adam Pash, editor in chief, Thank you so much, Adam. Great advice.

PASH: Thank you, Christine.

ROMANS: And we'll follow your calendar.

All right, that's going to wrap things up for us, but we're back same time, same place next Saturday morning for YOUR BOTTOM LINE. Time now to hand things back over to "CNN SATURDAY" for a check of your top stories making news right now.