The Great Recession and You: A Survey

The jobs crisis continues undermining the economic recovery of the United States, with unemployment currently at 9 percent. A particularly troubling part of this downturn has been the swollen ranks of the long-term unemployed. According to a recent study by the Pew Charitable Trusts, about 32 percent of unemployed Americans have been without work for more than a year.

In a survey I conducted of 28 people through various social networking sites, namely Facebook and Twitter, I asked a random sampling of people about the way the jobs crisis has touched their lives. The polling sample was far from scientific, but revealed some compelling anecdotal insight into the fact that very few people have escaped the jobs crisis unscathed.

What is the longest period of time for which you have been involuntarily unemployed?

At the end of the survey, I asked all the participants what they believe the federal government can do to address the jobs crisis. Responses ranged from “Nothing” to “Tax billionaires more” to “Create a CCC type New Deal program.” No consensus was reached, but the most frequently mentioned remedy was the government investing more in infrastructure.

The varied responses are illustrated below in a Word Cloud.

Job Satisfaction: Are you Thankful?

It isn’t just the the Holiday season that is prompting people to give thanks, the job market is helping out as well.

With so many people either unemployed or underemployed, the phrase “be thankful you even have a job” has almost become cliché.

As it turns out, of the 23 people that responded to a survey, most are satisfied with their current employment.

A correlation can be drawn between education and job satisfaction, with nearly 70% having received some form of college degree.

Even when prodded with the hypothetical carrot of winning the lottery, a surprising number (43%) confessed that they would still show up to work the next day and none claimed to the “No Call; No Show” that we all seem to talk about every Monday at the water cooler.

The option to insert one’s own lottery dream, however, yielded varying levels of responsibility:

Perks of the Job: A Survey Analysis

Understanding job growth is a tricky business. The Bureau of Labor Statistics publishes dozens of quarterly projections, but few statistics are reviewed by national media. Virtually all of the annual job growth numbers are based on the time-tested non-farm payroll statistics.

Non-farm payroll stats are nice for understanding broad national trends, but what about all of the jobs that exist in the margins? What about the day laborers that work for cash or the creative industry professionals that jump around the country from gig to gig? Solid estimates for people working in these less measurable fields are hard to find.

Preferred Job Payment Structures

In this largely un-scientific survey of working professionals, it quickly became clear that a workaday, salaried position is not the end goal for many people. More than half of the people polled in my survey preferred work that paid on contractual or temporary basis. Many of these people explained that this type of work gives them the freedom to work when they see fit, a luxury in most professions. There were also several commenters that believed the freelancer lifestyle was more conducive to taking jobs that allowed them to extend into new fields, thus making their skill set richer and more employable.

The results break down like so:

Jobs Perks and Detractors

Another important bit of data from this survey compared what people thought were the “best” and “worst” attributes of their chosen profession. They choices were the same for both questions, but the answers were certainly not a mirror image of each other. It is clear in the data displayed below that paycheck stability is a huge factor for people when they aren’t earning enough. This result is to be expected. The surprising element of this data is that an “exciting work environment” was overwhelmingly the best part of many people’s work. Schedule flexibility and future employment opportunities were a close second and third choice. The point of all this, is that there are many potential ways to incentivize labor other than stimulating payroll growth. Stimulating the informal sectors of the economy, like freelance labor, may have major job-creating potential. The obvious hurtle in freelance job growth is medical care, which keeps many people tied to jobs that they would otherwise abandon. But that’s old news… Europe realized that socialized medicine diversified job growth decades ago. Maybe it is about time we do the same.

CUNY J-School Students Post Graduation Plans

By Orlando Rodriguez

So, you’ve sacrificed a hell of a lot to become a full-time journalism student, haven’t you? Horror stories of disappearing journalism jobs have you thinking if you should have sent out law school applications instead? If you have, you are not alone. However, if you plan on sticking it out or are passionate about fighting the good fight with pen, pad, camera and recorder, the results of our survey may pique your interest.

The question posed to the classes of 2011 and 2012 were: “what’s the job market going to look like 16 months down and thousands of dollars in debt down the road?”

Thirty-four CUNY J-School students were polled at random over a three-day period. Fifty percent felt that the current state of journalism jobs is unstable while thirty-two percent felt that that the jobs market is rebounding.

At the same time, sixty-five percent of those polled expressed that their preference despite is to work for a large media organization. Only fifteen percent of all respondents answered that they would prefer to run their own publication and even fewer (twelve percent) expressed a desire to freelance after graduation.

79% of respondents felt that the most opportunities lie in business journalism, compared with other areas. However, this does not appear to translate into there being an exodus among students into the business concentration. Seventy-one percent said they would not choose a concentration based on money, but on their passion.

There were other groups of interesting responses to post-graduation plans and how well students felt that the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism prepared them for the job market. For the complete summary of responses, along with the complete list of data, please click here.

Living With Loans: The Results

The 24 respondents that participated in the “How Are You Living With Loans ” survey explained how college loan debt has affected their everyday lives.
The majority of respondents finished their undergraduate college degrees just two years ago.

The survey respondents work in variation of professions with different pay ranges. These professions include :

Also more than half of the respondents either had a job before graduating or found one within six months following graduation, but most will spend five years or more repaying that debt.

While getting a job in that time frame is a good, even great thing especially in this economy, for many of the survey respondents the amount that has to be paid in loan payments each month takes away much more away them financially then they would like. For a few respondents it is the main culprit of their stress while a few look at it as just another bill.

Here are some of the things they said :

“Quality of life is less than desired due to student loan debt, nearly could afford necessary investments like a home due to student loan debts, having a hard time keeping up with payments even with a decent salary.”

“I know that I have to pay a certain amount on time, every month, so I just look at it a another bill. It’s no different, for me, than my light or water bill. Of course, life would probably be better if I didn’t have to pay it because those funds could more effectly be used elsewhere. However, it was an investment in my education in which I do not regret.”

“It hasn’t affected my life yet. But as soon as I graduate, if I don’t have a job, it will definitely have a huge impact on my life.”

“It is a constant stressor. I have pretty much been trying to keep my head above water since graduating. I am stressed about taking on even more debt for graduate school, and I’m feeling a lot of pressure to get a well-paying job after school. I think it will be several years before I feel financially secure enough to take on more normal adult responsibilities like a mortgage and having children…my school loans are a mortgage in themselves!! As stressful as it is, though, I don’t regret for a moment investing money in my schooling–it’s worth it.”

While 79 % of respondents did not have to defer their loan repayment period, 46 % will spend up five or more years paying it off.

This is how respondents described their experiences when looking for work and how long it took before getting that first job.


What asked how many years it will take to pay off undergraduate student loans most respondents will spend 5 or more years doing so.

Survey post: How satisfied are you with your job?

I presented a survey asking people how satisfied they are with the current job or career they have.  I wanted to find out if most people are working some place they are unhappy, and what their motivation is for not leaving.  A total of 25 random people answered the six question survey, most of whom are in their early twenties.

There is one overall contradiction I noticed from the results.  The first question asked people to rate how satisfied they are with their job on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 indicating the most satisfaction.  Most respondents, (88 percent) gave their answer in the middle ground, meaning they answered with a 3 or 4 on the satisfaction scale.  Not one respondent answered they were completely unhappy with their job.

The next question asked people to choose words that describe their job from a set of adjectives.  Here is where I noticed a contradiction between the answers given for this question, and those given to the first.

Most respondents (62 percent) used the word “stressful” to describe their job.

The same respondents also used the adjectives “aggravating,” “exciting,” and “aggravating.”  Although “exciting” was used often, there appears to be a lack of enthusiasm respondents showed for their occupation.  Because of this, more people should have responded that they were unsatisfied with their job, instead of replying they were satisfied or more.

The image below indicates the adjectives respondents used the most to describe their job.
The larger the word, the more often it was used.

What was not surprising from the results, however, was the reasons respondents gave for not liking their job.  The next question asked respondents to pick from a number of reasons for not liking their job, such as not liking their boss, having unpleasant co-workers, or doing too much work for not enough pay.  Thirteen (52 percent) answered that the pay isn’t good enough and the work is too much.

The image below shows the most common pairing of words respondents used to answer this question.

The survey also asked respondents if they would take a job they absolutely hated just because the pay was high. The choices were “yes,” “no,” or “maybe.”  The point of this question was to find out if money could be a strong enough motivation for people to pursue a job.  I expected most of the answers to this question to be “yes.” The results showed that most people answered “maybe” (62 percent) instead of a complete “yes.”

Considering the amount of people who said their salary wasn’t high enough, I was surprised that more people did not respond with a complete “yes.”  To find out why, I would follow-up and ask the respondents why they chose “maybe” instead of “yes.” I would also ask why they did not choose “yes” for a higher paying job if their current “aggravating” and “stressful” job does not pay enough.

In the survey I included a qualitative question for respondents to give their personal reasons for disliking their job.  The image below shows the most common words people used in their responses, with the largest ones being used the most.

Again, most people expressed dissatisfaction with the jobs they have.  But it seems that though they are unhappy, people choose to stay with their jobs because they believe there is nothing better out there.

Diary Post: CUNY J-School Class of 2011 & 2012 Post Graduation Plans.

By Orlando Rodriguez

The purpose of this survey was to get a quantitative picture of the career paths 1st semester and graduating CUNY J-School students see for themselves. The survey also attempts to get an idea of the prevailing viewpoints on how students feel the CUNY curriculum prepared them for employment. In addition, I attempted to gauge the level of job market optimism among members of both classes.

With the popularity of the I-Pad2, as well as the Nook and the Kindle Fire, the demand for subscription based news media has increased. The survey, tries to see if the upswing in paid consumer demand has had an placebo effect on journalism students.

My primary vehicle for survey promotion was via the schools e-mail system, as this was a targeted survey aimed at students specifically from CUNY J-School. However I did also post a link on Facebook, to reach the network on friends from the class of 2011. Participation, initially, was slow, but a second e-mail blast and Facebook post yielded solid participatory results, which are still ongoing. I will post the final numbers at the end of the weekend in order to post metrics that are reflective of the maximum amount of participation.

Chester Soria: A Texas Native Tries On New York Politics For Size.

Coming from Texas, Chester Soria, a first year student at CUNY Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, is not a stranger to size. Standing at well over 6 feet tall himself, Soria is a native Houston, Texas, the largest city in the 2nd biggest state of the union.

With a passion for all things political, Chester presently writes for ‘The Local’, a New York Times blog about Clinton Hill and Fort Greene, in the very big borough of Brooklyn.

New York City News Service reporter Orlando Rodriguez caught up with Chester to talk about why he chose CUNY’s Journalism program above the much larger competition, his previous journalism experience and the big plans he has to make a huge splash on the craft.

Why CUNY J-School?
[audio:|titles=Chester On Why CUNY J-School]

On Politics In Texas
[audio:|titles=Chester Soria On Texas]

Learning The New York Political Landscape
[audio:|titles=Chester Soria Interview part 4]

The Relevance of ‘Hyper-Local’ Journalism
[audio:|titles=Chester Soria Interview part 2]

Fighting For His Individuality

Hatuey Rodriguez, age 15, travels each day alone from the leafy suburb of Fort Lee, NJ to the rough and tumble streets South Bronx to learn how to fight at the Willis Avenue Boxing Club. President of his sophomore class, Rodriguez is more focused on attending college, than being popular in high school which he describes as not being easy. Boxing he says, has helped him feel more confident that the path he is choosing in the mist of a world of intense peer pressure is the best one for him.