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tv   Matter of Fact With Soledad O Brien  NBC  November 14, 2021 5:00am-5:30am PST

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announcer: right now, on "matter of fact," why so many women are leaving the workforce. soledad: do you think there are lessons that are being learned right now by young women who are watching what their moms are dealing with? janet: you're not going to have work/life balance, you're going to always be juggling. announcer: how the pandemic has impacted families and the job market in ways impossible to predict. plus, schools are open, but without enough teachers, custodians, or bus drivers. jeff: our transportation director is driving. both of our mechanics are driving busses. we've got our director of teaching and learning, a couple of instructional coaches. announcer: what this iowa school district has to do to make sure
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its students get to class every day. and rising tides are cutting a path of destruction along america's coastlines. bob: sea level rise has got a critical place where a little bit more kills everything. announcer: why ghost forests are a dire sign of things to come. ♪ soledad: i'm soledad o'brien. welcome to "matter of fact." to say the u.s. labor market is in flux is an understatement. a year and a half after the pandemic brought the economy to a screeching halt, employers report an onslaught of resignations. that is leading to a shortage of workers, and an unpredictable future. one major factor -- the number of women who have left the workforce. since february 2020, america's female workforce has shrunk by 1.8 million. could this exodus, whether voluntary or not, erase decades of progress that women have made professionally? janet currie is the henry putnam
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professor of economics and public affairs at princeton university. she also co-directs the program on families and children at the national bureau of economic research. if you just look at the month of september 2021, we know that more than 300,000 women left the workforce. at the same time, 180,000 men joined the workforce. what explains what seems to me to be a complete contradiction? dr. currie: i think some of that is due to the fallout of the pandemic, women still needing to be home with their children. the types of industries that were most impacted, some of those haven't really recovered, like hospitality, or health care or caring professions, daycare, elder care, and so on. we're lagging behind in many parts of the country. soledad: last count that i've seen has five 531,000 jobs added back, and 57% of those new
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positions, i've read, have gone to women. how are those numbers breaking down? dr. currie: it's good news, obviously, that jobs are being added back. women of color were the most affected of any group, and so some of those jobs that are coming back are benefiting the people that were harmed the most. but i think it's important to put all of this in some perspective. we may not get to where we were before, because the very long term trend is for declining labor force participation. i think what covid really did was it laid bare some really important problems in the labor market. i guess if enough people leave the labor market and there's enough of a labor shortage, then you may see wages start to go up a little bit, but that's a problem. another problem is just the lack of support for working families. soledad: what ultimately is the impact to the economy? dr. currie: we see a sort of catch-22 situation where women
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can't go to work because they don't have people to care for their children. and because women are the ones who care for your children, if they're not in the workforce, then you can't find them to do that. soledad: do you think there are lessons that are being learned right now by the next generation of young women who are watching what their moms are dealing with? dr. currie: i do think you see people taking away lessons from that, probably some negative. like, my generation, there was the phrase, "so you can have it all." now, that's obviously not true. i think another kind of catchphrase that i hope is going out the window is the one about work/life balance. you know, it's kind of a myth, and it makes people feel like if i don't have work/life balance, it means there's something wrong with me. and it doesn't mean that at all. it means that you're doing the best that you can in what can be
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a kind of impossible situation. soledad: janet currie is a professor of economics at princeton university. thank you for talking with me. really appreciated it. announcer: coming up, america doesn't have enough school bus drivers. how one iowa town is filling in the gaps. >> to just step in as a as a teacher to come. that was a very new role to play today at the school. announcer: plus, what do harriet tubman and climate change have to do with one another? more than you might think. and a groundbreaking discovery in a galaxy far, far away. what might be the first planet ever identified outside the milky way. ♪ when you really need to sleep you reach for the really good stuff. new zzzquil ultra helps you sleep better and longer when you need it most. it's non habit forming and powered by the makers of nyquil.
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into the fall semester, just
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getting back into classrooms after a year or more of virtual learning. now, a national bus driver shortage is making it a challenge for many children to even get to school. about 25 million students across the country rely on school buses. a recent national survey found 81% of all school districts are struggling to find bus drivers. rural areas are especially hard hit. high rates of poverty mean many families don't have other transportation options. budgets are also pinched by the rising cost of gas and bus maintenance. so, school districts have had to get creative to fill the gaps. correspondent laura chavez found that out firsthand in carroll, iowa, where they are desperate for bus drivers. >> hey, just letting you know bus 22 is not going to be running this morning. laura: it's 6:00 a.m. on a tuesday morning at the carroll county school bus barn, and transportation director jeff cullen and his team are in crisis mode. jeff: it's been a wild day.
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it's been a probably one of the most hectic days i've had since i've been here. eight of my 24 drivers are out today for various reasons. so obviously, that's a third of my staff. laura: so many drivers are out, even superintendant casey burlau is picking up a route. casey: today, we're utilizing any sub that we have. our transportation director's driving. both of our mechanics are driving busses. we've got our director of teaching and learning, a couple of instructional coaches. laura: along with a set of keys to a school sanctioned vehicle, staff members like teacher kelli schulz are handed a post-it note with an address and the names of students they're picking up. kelli: i mean, i knew we had a bus shortage going on, and -- but now i just step in as a as a teacher to come. that was a very new role to play today. laura: teachers and school staff have been stepping up over the last few years to make sure the 1700 students in carroll community get to school. but if things don't change, the
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driver shortage could have a much larger impact here. jeff: ultimately, if i lose another four or five drivers, i'll have to do away with in-town bussing. so then some of the kids who said they couldn't get to school without bussing, they're going to fall in that category. laura: removing in-town bussing means kids living within the city limits could lose access to a bus. >> daddy, you seen my tool box? laura: and that won't work for adam and bailey warnke, who live in town, about a mile from their son ryder's pre-school. why don't you two just take him to school yourselves? adam: because i can't. i have to be to work by 7:00. bailey: and i have to hold a job as well. there is no way that i could be able to transport him to and from. laura: three-year-old ryder has an undiagnosed muscular issue. at home, he can scoot across the carpet, but otherwise, his wheelchair gets him around. so, without a specially-equiped bus, he's stuck at home, and falling behind.
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adam: you got it? good job. laura: and there's another reason the bus system is important to ryder and his family. rick: morning! laura: it's the special bond between ryder and his driver, rick hamilton. bailey: he loves to joke around with rick. adam: like, i've told rick, like, he can't retire. rick: ryder's just a sweetheart. i love him to death. he's a great kid. laura: rick's been driving a school bus for almost 30 years, and he's seen a lot -- but nothing like the current driver shortage. rick: i don't remember when i started that there was anywhere near the problem filling routes or finding subs. it seems to me like the last few years is really critical. laura: according to rick and other drivers i spoke to, this shortage has been building. do you guys see an end in sight or is this just the new normal? >> i don't see an end in sight, because you just can't get drivers. they don't want to do it. >> no benefits, really. there's no insurance. the pay is not what it should be. laura: pay for new drivers in the district is $19.22 an hour.
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no health benefits. but new drivers do get a $1000 incentive, half at the start of the year, half at the end. but money's not the only barrier. jeff cullen says not everyone is cut out for the job. jeff: it takes some special person to drive a school bus, you know? and you have to want to do it, or you wouldn't last. rick: i always have loved working with kids. we do a lot of talking, a lot of sharing, and so i get really close to my kids. laura: which ryder and his family know firsthand. bailey: it helps with the start of the day. i'll tell him, "ryder, your bus is coming up the road," and he bolts in his wheelchair. he bolts right to the end of the driveway and waits for rick to pick him up. laura: how did it make you feel a first time you saw him ride off on that bus? adam: oh, i choked up. i got a soft spot in my heart. >> it all starts right there on a big yellow bus, you know? laura: on a big yellow bus in carroll, iowa, i'm laura chavez for "matter of fact." announcer: up next --
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kate: it's an invisible flood. the saltwater is moving through the groundwater table, and that's what burns them, essentially, from the inside out. announcer: the ghost forests that are a sign of dire things to come. plus, an unsung hero -- the man who petitioned president eisenhower to make veteran's day a national holiday.
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soledad: as world leaders and scientists debate climate change at a global level, we thought we'd consider a more ground-level question. how do we help coastal communities become less vulnerable to changing climate? one example -- preserving the coastal forests in the mid-atlantic.
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the forests, along with adjacent salt marshes, help buffer inland areas from intensifying storms. the fragile coastal ecosystem is in jeopardy, as storms and rising tides leave a path of dead trees -- a growing phenomenon called "ghost forests." our special correspo joie: history rose up from the marshy woods along maryland's eastern shore. these waters led araminta ross on her path to freedom before she became known as "harriet tubman," conductor of the underground railroad. her father taught her how to navigate those marshy areas. herschel: he taught her how, and how to navigate. joie: herschel johnson says he's no "historian" -- just a lifelong resident with a love of dorchester county's past. how far back does your family go around here? herschel: well, i -- you know, i
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can go back as far as 1832 that i've traced my grandmother's grandmother. joie: in 80 years, johnson's seen much change here, both in the land and in the eastern shore's landscape. herschel: people are building their houses up because they know eventually the water's going to keep coming in. joie: the land is going to disappear. herschel: the land is going to disappear, and they're trying to find out how can i save what we have now. joie: and as the land disappears, what's left is an apparition along the shore -- coastal stands known as "ghost forests." kate: i mean, they're starkly beautiful, but you get these snags of trees that look as if they've been burned by fire -- but they've actually been burned by salt. joie: they're burned by salt? literally just burned from the inside out? kate: that's what it looks like, mm-hmm.
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joie: agroecology professor kate tully's team is tracking the saltwater incursion as it moves inland. and what does that mean for farmland? kate: well, if it's happening in the forest, it's going to be happening in the farmland, too. it's an invisible flood. the saltwater is moving through the groundwater table, and the trees and the plants, they all have their feet in that salty groundwater, and that's what burns them, essentially, from the inside out. bob: you can see where the tide comes up in the ditch, and the salt goes over, and what it does to the crop. joie: in neighboring somerset county, the poorest in the state, bob fitzgerald shows us how time and tide have reshaped his land. bob: i got a place that's down the road here, about a quarter mile, that we've abandoned because it drowns out. joie: you abandoned your crops. bob: yeah. joie: you just gave up that farmland? bob: yeah, yeah. joie: throughout the region, almost a third of the land has already been affected by rising waters. with sea levels expected to rise
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as much as two feet in the next 30 years, routine flooding will drown out some of the nation's oldest farms. bob: the biggest factor we see is in the last 20 to 30 years it's accelerated, because of the climate change and all that. the sea level rise has got to a critical point where a little bit more kills everything. joie: including whole communities. kate: you'll drive down the lane, and you'll see a swing set just swinging in the breeze, with a bunch of marsh plants grown up, an abandoned school. there are communities that have fled, because it's better to just walk away. joie: the farms that remain are changed, too, traditional corn and tomatoes increasingly replaced by more salt-resistant crops. so, if you eat food -- kate: you should care. if you eat food, you should care about farmers and farming, and the effect of climate change. joie: the solution may require radical re-thinking, even paying
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farmers to let the marsh reclaim their land. but the time to act is running out. herschel: things are going to change so much that -- we're going to go so far that we can't turn back. joie: and you can see it as somebody who's worked the land and lived down here. herschel: yes, i can. joie: you can see what's happening. herschel: mm-hmm. joie: from the tops of those haunted stands, warnings of a history threatened by the rising tide. for "matter of fact," i'm joie chen on maryland's eastern shore. announcer: next, what do you get when you look inside a spiral galaxy? possibly another planet. scientists share details on an exciting new discovery. and how one man made sure veterans got their own holiday.r a
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galaxy far, far, away. like 23 million light years away. that's where scientists found what they believe might be another planet -- and not just any planet. potentially, the first ever discovered outside of our milky way galaxy. astronomers from the harvard-smithsonian center for astrophysics, and other universities around the world, have found signs of what they think could be a planet in galaxy m-51. that's a star system also known as the whirlpool galaxy. to find that possible planet, researchers used nasa's chandra x-ray observatory, which measures x-ray light in the star system. x-rays are a naturally occurring phenomenon in space. when an object, possibly a planet, passes in front of a star, t dims some of the light. this is known as the "transit technique." there's so much interest in a possible discovery beyond our galaxy that scientists from around the world took to twitter to answer questions.
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>> so if this is actually a planet outside of our galaxy, how big would it be? and could you even have life there? >> it's roughly the size of jupiter. this x-ray binary is a very young system, probably less than 20 million years old -- and although that sounds a lot in human terms, 20 million years is a blink of the eye in terms of how long it takes for life to evolve, so there would very likely not have been time for life to evolve in this system. soledad: if confirmed to be a planet, the discovery would be the farthest one identified. i like the name soledad for a planet. i don't know. announcer: up ahead, we remember the veterans and active duty military, and the sacrifices they've made for this country. new vicks convenience pack. dayquil severe for you...
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soledad: finally, this week, we mark veterans day. in 1918, at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month, an armistice was declared between the allied nations and germany. one year later, president woodrow wilson proclaimed november 11 armistice day, to honor the soldiers who fought in world war i. but it was a veteran of the next world war, raymond weeks of birmingham, alabama, who came up with the idea of making it a holiday to honor all veterans from all wars. weeks, who became known as the "father of veterans day," led the first national veterans day parade in 1947 in birmingham. he also led efforts to petition then army chief of staff general dwight eisenhower for his support. in 1954, president eisenhower declared november 11 veterans day, and a national holiday. the birmingham veterans day tradition continues with an annual parade. to all the veterans everywhere,
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thank you for your service. that's it's for this edition of "matter of fact." i'm soledad o'brien. we'll see you next week. announcer: if you missed our top stories about why more women are leaving the workforce, how a small town in iowa is coping with a school bus driver shortage, the ghost farms that indicate the coastal areas are in crisis, and the possibility of a planet in a galaxy far, far away, just go to and listen to "matter of fact with soledad o'brien" on your favorite podcast provider. watch us during the week on fyi, pluto, and youtube. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit]
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today on "sayson paw seuf . we'll talk to her about her life in front of the camera, and her real life elite martial arts background. then abc bay area talks to one of the key partners of the nutrition community, and then we'll wrap up


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