March 5, 2021

In the Real World, Will the Jobs Plan Make a Difference?

This year alone, the biggest job losses in the private sector have occurred in retailing, “probably because of Borders,” Colleen Madden, a spokeswoman for Challenger Gray Christmas, a global outplacement firm that tracks employment, said in reference to the bookstore chain’s folding.

    Other industries with high job losses are aerospace, financial services and pharmaceutical companies, she said. Drug makers had the most job cuts in 2010, and automakers had the most cuts in 2009, she said.

Interviews with a few business owners provided a mixed reception to Mr. Obama’s proposals on Friday. Below is a sampling of their reaction and their general view of the hiring landscape.

Computers and Electronics

Jen-Hsun Huang, the chief executive of the chip maker Nvidia, said, “On the bleeding edge of technology, it wouldn’t make much difference.”  

Nvidia, which designs chips for smartphones and tablets and graphics chips for personal computers,  has about 7,000 employees. About 5,000 of those are in the United States, 1,000 in China and another 1,000 in India. Most of the people are engineers and programmers who design the chips that are made by another company in Taiwan. Because of the growth in the smartphone and tablet market, the company expects to add about 20 percent more people overall.

“I know we are growing faster in the U.S.,” he said. The reason, he explained, was the need for close collaboration. “The work we do — creative work and innovation work — there is a benefit to being close to each other.”

He said the incentives won’t cause the company hire any more people or change the kinds of people it hires. “The people we hire tend not to be out of work for six months,” said Mr. Huang. The company tends to be recruiting for recent graduate s of the top engineering schools.  “The guys we hire are like sports stars.”

The Food Industry

Michael J. Potter, the founder and president of Eden Foods, a natural foods company based in Michigan, said that he planned to hire as many as 11 new employees over the next year — but because sales are growing, not because of federal incentives. Mr. Potter said that the company, which produces whole grains, canned beans and other foods, has 168 employees, about the same number that it had a year ago. He said his company is also improving the way it handles some areas of its business, including sales, marketing and accounting, which will require additional employees. He said he would also be adding some jobs in a renovated manufacturing plant.

“We’re a positive story, we’re hiring,” Mr. Potter said. “These are not seasonal jobs. These are full-time, solid career positions.”

Mr. Potter said that he was skeptical of the president’s proposals and that he found some of them vague, such as the incentive to hire the long-term unemployed, which he said would not influence his decisions. “We’re developing an organization, so we’re looking for good people,” he said. “I can’t imagine that the tax incentive is going to be worth anything but a pittance” compared to the value of finding productive employees.


Macy’s, which announced last month its most successful second quarter in a decade, said hiring was up as a result.

“The nature of our business and our stores is that it fluctuates with the business. When sales are growing, which they are, we’re adding people in the stores,” said Jim Sluzewski, a Macy’s spokesman.

Mr. Sluzewski said the most recent concrete figures available are from April, when Macy’s had 166,000 employees, up from 161,000 in April 2010, but it had continued to add workers since then. He said the company was continuing with its plan, announced in January, to hire 3,500 dot-com workers over the next two years. 

“If our sales grow, we need more people to fuel the sales,” he said. Energy Firms

Some energy executives said they were far more concerned about government regulation than the president’s proposals.

Duff Wilson, Stephanie Clifford, Stuart Elliott and William Neuman reported from New York. Clifford Krauss reported from Houston.

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