My previous employer peaked at nearly 250 full time employees and during its last couple of years it was around 40 employees. Two years ago my current employer had close to 150 employees working full time and now it has about 45 on the payroll with only about 30 actually working. (And the plant is running at about 10% of its full three-shift capacity.) It's not going to get better anytime soon.
Sending jobs overseas made good short-term sense but was a long term problem. When jobs went overseas people could no longer afford to buy products even if they were cheaper. I see it all as part of the "live for today because there might not be a tomorrow" mindset. You only go around once in life so grab all that you possibly can right now. What can I get today? has replaced long term planning and long term consequences and it's not just corporate America. Organized labor should have known that its labor paradigm could not last forever and should have taken steps to ensure, not just a better living for its rank and file (if that was ever really its concern which I doubt) but taken steps to ensure that their employers would be able to sustain it for the future. The I want it now, to hell with tomorrow mindset was as firmly entrenched in the workers as it was in the management and Wall Street. Well tomorrow has arrived and Hell seems to be right behind it.
People mock the Protestant Work Ethic of everyone should work productively, even the very rich and the very poor. It included the idea that people should make more than just money, but that they should be involved in the production of things to fulfill their needs and desires of themselves and their community, or they should fulfill a needed role. It was the Protestant Work Ethic, along with open land and personal freedom, that caused America to rise to the heights it did and the work ethic is needed to restore it. Sadly we have lost it. We have too many people who live on the unreciprocated labor of others including the idle rich and the never-employed welfare class, whom I consider morally equivalent, at least in economic terms. Well at least the idle rich might create jobs, or at least they should.
It's not going to get better anytime soon. Our industrial base is spinning around the drain at the moment and we may simply have to start all over.
What would I do? I would create incentives for factories to manufacture here and to employ American workers. Create incentives for the rich and near-rich to create jobs and the problems will begin to fade as the workers begin to work and feel secure. If they don't work everyone suffers, including the businessman and the taxman, as they are now finding out.