PDF/EPUB Amy Goldstein Õ Janesville: An American Story PDF/EPUB ✓ Õ

Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year800 CEO READ Business Book of the YearA New York Times Notable BookA Washington Post Notable BookAn NPR Best Book of 2017A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2017An Economist Best Book of 2017A Business Insider Best Book of 2017A gripping story of psychological defeat and resilience Bob Woodward The Washington Postan intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville Wisconsin and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle classThis is the story of what happens to an industrial town in the American heartland when its main factory shuts downbut its not the familiar tale Most observers record the immediate shock of vanished jobs but few stay around long enough to notice what happens next when a community with a can do spirit tries to pick itself up Pulitzer Prizewinning reporter Amy Goldstein spent years immersed in Janesville Wisconsin where the nations oldest operating General Motors assembly plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession Now with intelligence sympathy and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval Goldstein shows the conseuences of one of Americas biggest political issues Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers educators bankers politicians and job re trainers to show why its so hard in the twenty first century to recreate a healthy prosperous working class Moving and magnificently well researched Janesville joins a growing family of books about the evisceration of the working class in the United States What sets it apart is the sophistication of its storytelling and analysis Jennifer Senior TheNew York Times Anyone tempted to generalize about the American working class ought to meet the people in Janesville The reporting behind this book is extraordinary and the storya stark heartbreaking reminder that political ideologies have real conseuencesis told with rare sympathy and insight Tracy Kidder Pulitzer Prizewinning author of The Soul of a New Machine Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year800 CEO READ Business Book of the YearA New York Times Notable BookA Washington Post Notable BookAn NPR Best Book of 2017A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2017An Economist Best Book of 2017A Business Insider Best Book of 2017A gripping story of psychological defeat and resilience Bob Woodward The Washington Postan intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville Wisconsin and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle classThis is the story of what happens to an industrial town in the American heartland when its main factory shuts downbut its not the familiar tale Most observers record the immediate shock of vanished jobs but few stay around long enough to notice what happens next when a community with a can do spirit tries to pick itself up Pulitzer Prizewinning reporter Amy Goldstein spent years immersed in Janesville Wisconsin where the nations oldest operating General Motors assembly plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession Now with intelligence sympathy and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval Goldstein shows the conseuences of one of Americas biggest political issues Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers educators bankers politicians and job re trainers to show why its so hard in the twenty first century to recreate a healthy prosperous working class Moving and magnificently well researched Janesville joins a growing family of books about the evisceration of the working class in the United States What sets it apart is the sophistication of its storytelling and analysis Jennifer Senior TheNew York Times Anyone tempted to generalize about the American working class ought to meet the people in Janesville The reporting behind this book is extraordinary and the storya stark heartbreaking reminder that political ideologies have real conseuencesis told with rare sympathy and insight Tracy Kidder Pulitzer Prizewinning author of The Soul of a New Machine Financial Times and McKinsey Business Book of the Year800 CEO READ Business Book of the YearA New York Times Notable BookA Washington Post Notable BookAn NPR Best Book of 2017A Wall Street Journal Best Book of 2017An Economist Best Book of 2017A Business Insider Best Book of 2017A gripping story of psychological defeat and resilience Bob Woodward The Washington Postan intimate account of the fallout from the closing of a General Motors assembly plant in Janesville Wisconsin and a larger story of the hollowing of the American middle classThis is the story of what happens to an industrial town in the American heartland when its main factory shuts downbut its not the familiar tale Most observers record the immediate shock of vanished jobs but few stay around long enough to notice what happens next when a community with a can do spirit tries to pick itself up Pulitzer Prizewinning reporter Amy Goldstein spent years immersed in Janesville Wisconsin where the nations oldest operating General Motors assembly plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession Now with intelligence sympathy and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval Goldstein shows the conseuences of one of Americas biggest political issues Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers educators bankers politicians and job re trainers to show why its so hard in the twenty first century to recreate a healthy prosperous working class Moving and magnificently well researched Janesville joins a growing family of books about the evisceration of the working class in the United States What sets it apart is the sophistication of its storytelling and analysis Jennifer Senior TheNew York Times Anyone tempted to generalize about the American working class ought to meet the people in Janesville The reporting behind this book is extraordinary and the storya stark heartbreaking reminder that political ideologies have real conseuencesis told with rare sympathy and insight Tracy Kidder Pulitzer Prizewinning author of The Soul of a New Machine


6 thoughts on “Janesville: An American Story

  1. says:

    Very well written lots of empathy but also objectivity Gripping account of a downfall due to the Great Financial Crisis and its aftermath


  2. says:

    This is an important book and one that will stand the test of time And contrary to the subtitle it isn't just an American story It speaks to issues that apply worldwide and which have applied to cities for two centuries now and will no doubt apply for centuries to comeJanesville is the story of an medium sized American city in Wisconsin home to Speaker Paul Ryan It is a Factory Town and the factory is a GM plant producing Chevy Tahoes The plant closes and does not reopen Other businesses close both those that supplied the GM plant and those whose customers lose their jobs and cease to be customersThe book charts the fortunes of those affected It talks of those who try to rebuilt the town drawing new businesses in It tells the stories of those in the community colleges who are offering retraining courses to those who have lost their jobs and the outcomes for those people It tells us of the people who work in the job centre and those who work in charities supporting those in trouble Those who used to give to good causes and who now receiveGoldstein is a Pulitzer Prize winning writer and it shows This is a beautifully written book Simply written yes with honest directness Few books this important are this good to readI cannot recommend this book highly enough to anyone interested in how an economy and society face changes You won't find any easy solutions but you will better understand the issues


  3. says:

    This book evidently a labour of love a committed reporter spends time with various families impacted by the closure of a General Motors plant For employees used to 30 years with one employer post recession is a harsh and disorientating place Middle class self images are challenged by the reality of negative euity and family dislocation to make ends meet The upbeat Republican business community are well represented and there is a welcome analytical edge in the appendix showing some hard truths on impact of retraining investments by US agencies An easy read and a hard one too emotionally the prose style is spare and immediate The politics is evenhanded Was immediately reminded of Orwell's writing style as I was drawn into the book it is the story of just one town at a particular time and reviewers see in it explanations of the Trump ascendency but I think Janesville will still be read many many years fron now its insight into this community on the wrong side of globalisation


  4. says:

    This was an Economic book club choice which all the members enjoyed though we felt that it succumbed to sentimentality in places It is a work of sociology that documents 5 years in the life of the town of Janesville Wisconsin in the aftermath of the closure of the General Motors manufacturing plant there which led to widespread job losses in the community Its focus is on what happens to the laid off workers Here are my book club notes with an emphasis on the economic aspects of the bookJanesville An American StoryAmy GoldsteinOverallI thought this was an enjoyable piece of narrative journalism marred occasionally by excessive sentimentality It depicts the life of the town of Janesville Wisconsin in the 5 years after its largest employer General Motors closed its manufacturing plant there leading to massive job losses According to classical economic theory the jobs market should be self euilibrating The displaced semi skilled workers should have rapidly have been able to find euivalent jobs either by moving elsewhere to find them or by employers moving to the area to take advantage of the pool of unemployed workers in the area As Goldstein shows this does not happen Workers are reluctant to move out of the area to find work because of social embeddedness and falling prices mean that they are unable to sell their houses At the same time the general decline in manufacturing means that there are few new factories being created and different municipalities compete hard to attract them Most of the former GM employees seem to either end up working for the government accepting substantially lower wages and longer hours in existing local businesses or commuting long distances to work at other GM plants while the family continues to live in Janesville Goldstein resists drawing any conclusions and this is a work of narrative journalism rather than political advocacy I would however highlight the following general themes1 The economic illiteracy of the Republican partyThe GM plant in Janesville is closed amidst the recession caused by the Great Financial Crisis when nationwide unemployment rose from under 5% in 2016 to 10%in 2009 Yet the Republican party is then opposed to the Obama fiscal stimulus measures such as the 800bn American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 instead demanding that the government should cut the deficit and concentrate on fiscal sustainability I would contrast that with their recent enthusiasm for the Trump tax cuts that will cost between 3 and 7 Trillion over a decade according to the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget at a time when unemployment is at under 4% and the economy appears fully recovered from the GFC Their economic policy is absurd hypocritical and dangerously pro cyclical2 The hubris of the unionsThe average wage of the workers at the GM plant appears to have been around 28 an hour plus generous benefits including the right to retire after 30 years of service This is substantially higher than the going wage elsewhere in the county of around 16 an hour Thanks in part to the unions workers at the GM plant can command a wage 75% higher than they otherwise would Nemesis comes in the form of competition from foreign car manufacturers primarily Japanese Korean and German that progressively steal market share and drive GM to the brink of bankruptcy during the financial crisis The unions appear to have been slow to adapt to globalisation and to acknowledge that they are not competing just against other American car manufacturers with similarly unionised workforces but low cost foreign imports that have undermined the Unions’ pricing power3 The unwillingness of workers to moveJohn Steinbeck’s The Grapes of Wrath describes the mass migration of workers from Oklahoma to California in search of jobs during the Great Depression Janesville depicts an economy in which the unemployed are comparatively much better off despite all their privations they are clothed housed educated and do not starve and unwilling to move to find work This unwillingness to move appears to be a byproduct of development in three ways Firstly since the 1930’s rural American has become much urbanised The population of Janesville are townspeople with extensive social links in the community rather than inhabitants of isolated rural farms and privilege remaining within the community in lower paid jobs over moving elsewhere for higher wages Secondly they are homeowners The closure of the GM plant causes a fall in the local housing market trapping many of them in negative euity Those workers able to find lower paid work in the local area then suffer a very significant fall in welfare as their mortgage repayments remain fixed while their income falls forcing them to pay a higher percentage of their income on housing Finally people have come to expect government intervention In a key scene in the book some unemployed workers barrack the local Republican senator Paul Ryan demanding jobs They expect the government to come to them rather than to have to move themselves4 The narrowing of the middle classesThe former GM employees are semi skilled manufacturing workers The majority of those covered by the book find work either at other GM plants or lower paid jobs in the service sector None of the former employees seems to have found a job that pays an euivalent or higher wage within the town As a result many find themselves financially and socially stressed Although the GM workers are defined as middle class they lack transferable skills it was striking that some of them did not know how to use a computer and have few savings In the modern globalised economy manufacturers are competing in an international market and semi skilled workers in the US can no longer command the same wage premium that they could 20 or 30 years ago The middle class is narrowing down to just include educated White Collar workers In general service sector jobs are less susceptible to international competition than manufacturing jobs but the narrowing of the middle classes would appear to be an inevitable conseuence of globalisation I would expect it to continue5 The failure of government training schemesAmy Goldstein documents how workers who sign on for the government subsidised retraining schemes end up earning less than their co workers who immediately went in search of another job This calls in to uestion the general effectiveness of such schemes Perhaps it would be effective to provide employers with subsidies for on the job training for specific roles rather than basic retraining It is noticeable that two of the purported successes of the government retraining scheme go on to work as warders at the local jail once they have gained their Masters Degrees Were Masters Degrees really necessary to fulfil those roles? Higher education appears to have become a displacement activity with little intrinsic value6 The decline in manufacturing leads to intense municipal competition for new factoriesOne of the most interesting details of the book was the extent of competition between municipalities to secure new manufacturing facilities In order to secure a new GM factory Janesville contributes 20m to a total Wisconsin incentive package of 195m in tax breaks and other incentives with the local UAW Local 95 union offering additional concessions worth 213m Yet they lose to Michigan which wins the new plant with an offer of 779m in tax breaks over a decade plus 135m in job training funds These payments represent public subsidies to a private company Through them GM is able to capture a substantial portion of the positive externalities generated by the new plantOverallI enjoyed it An accessible work of sociology with some interesting economic insights


  5. says:

    Very readable version of a community virtually going from the proud workers householders and bustling busy lives we all tend to take for granted into being bottom of the barrel hopefuls Daily life as they know it disappearing slowly but surely When work is disappearing before their eyes not being on the list to be let go is the most important focus each payday Lots of characters who become familiar as their circumstances change Some can cope and trudge on We have all seen it again but doesn’t stop you hoping A fantastic read


  6. says:

    This book deserves its plaudits As described it tells the story of what happens when the main employer leaves a town in middle America but from a very human and individual level Some are able to cope; some notBut than that it raises the uestion of whether it was ever feasible to pay low skilled workers 29 an hour and not expect to be vulnerable from off shoring to countries who can easily pay less ie it’s not all China’s faultRaises uestions and challenges of how to reskill redundant workers which is clearly not as easy as just offering education programmesUltimately is a very real and engaging study in one of the most important labour and economic trends in modern history