Home / General / A Look Into the Future American Economy

A Look Into the Future American Economy

Comments
/
/
/
501 Views

manufacturing-america-comeback-435df030813

Jed Kolko provides an interesting analysis of where the American job market is headed. Couple of points:

1) It’s hardly surprising that health care is the fastest growing overall work sector, although it’s also notable that the single biggest category of job growth is wind turbine technician, which I hope turns out to be true.

2) It’s equally unsurprising that the fastest declining job categories all revolve around the old industrial economy, with both production and movement of goods in collapse. I didn’t even know the U.S. still had sewing machine operators as a job except for often illegal sweatshops in California, but whatever is left of that sector is still declining.

3) The growth fields all require higher education but the economy leaves absolutely no future for those who simply aren’t suited for higher education. This is something that virtually no one involved in education or employment policy wants to deal with or even admit. Yet anyone with working class relatives knows that some are simply not suited for higher education under any circumstances for a variety of reasons. This has to be taken seriously for social stability.

4) The workforce is getting old because people don’t have the money to retire. This is a big problem going forward because it also means more workers in the market, driving down wages and opening fewer jobs for younger workers. I doubt I will be any different as I age.

FacebookTwitterGoogle+Share
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest
  • CrunchyFrog

    3) The growth fields all require higher education but the economy leaves absolutely no future for those who simply aren’t suited for higher education. This is something that virtually no one involved in education or employment policy wants to deal with or even admit. Yet anyone with working class relatives knows that some are simply not suited for higher education under any circumstances for a variety of reasons. This has to be taken seriously for social stability.

    This is why the military is such an attractive option, and why they have no shortage of people lining up for jobs (in contrast to the dot com era).

    Basically the US is becoming a knowledge-retail-and-military economy, with certain areas of the country still having some resource exploitation jobs for the next few decades until those are all gone.

    • Chet Manly

      Word. The military’s certainly not for everyone, but it was a god-send for someone like me. I struggled in academic environments my entire life, but have no problem learning hands-on.

      The military also gives you a foot in the door for federal civilian jobs, which are some of the only ones left with a guaranteed pension and a realistic hope of retiring in your 60s.

      • CrunchyFrog

        Yep. America does have a social safety net – but it begins and ends at the DoD. Regardless of what we tell ourselves, our country is a military empire, fullstop, no qualifiers.

        Military officers have a deal so sweet that even the German safety net doesn’t compare.

        • For the most part yes, but you can still be forced out by a “Reduction in Force” or by just not getting promoted.

        • Malaclypse

          Mini-Mal is quite enamored of the movie White Christmas, while I can’t get beyond the premise that it would actually be possible for a United States General to retire into penury.

  • Nobdy

    the economy leaves absolutely no future for those who simply aren’t suited for higher education.

    That’s why we need to eliminate the minimum wage! Imagine how many personal valets someone like Donald Trump could hire if he only had to pay each man a single farthing for a full day’s labor. The unemployment rate would plummet!

    As for how a man is supposed to get by on a few pence a day, well if the poor stopped demanding decadent luxuries like food and shelter that problem would resolve itself. It is a peasant’s duty to work 12 hours a day while slowly starving to death. With a smile on his face!

    • Nobdy

      On a more serious note, for now some of the problem could easily be ameliorated through better regulation (higher minimum wage, more protections for workers) and increased government spending on needed infrastructure and other projects.

      Eventually, though, we’re going to have to accept that the machine/information age will inevitably lead to us having more people than we have meaningful jobs. At that time labor and income are going to have to be decoupled, at least to some degree, or we’re going to have an even worse poverty crisis and/or a revolution.

      Basic income is a necessary step on the way to the Star Trek economy. Maybe it’s further off than I think, but it seems inevitable.

      • Eventually, though, we’re going to have to accept that the machine/information age will inevitably lead to us having more people than we have meaningful jobs.

        I would argue that we hit that point years ago. Maybe even in the 1970s. I suppose it all comes down to how you define “meaningful jobs”.

        For fun, I’m going to call jobs meaningful if they:
        1. pay a living wage
        2. are gentle enough on the mind and body that the worker can reasonably expect to live to and enjoy retirement.
        3. Are not unsustainably exploitative of resources, the environment, and other people’s well being.

        So what fraction of the current work force has meaningful jobs?

        As a follow up question, is a “Star Trek Economy” possible? Is it sustainable? Will the people who enjoy an outsize fraction of the benefits of the current economy allow the transition to a Star Trek Economy without a fight?

        • Michael Cain

          Given a miracle energy technology — unlimited clean free electricity for all — then sure, a Star Trek style economy is possible.

          • Pseudonym

            Point 1 in the OP may be relevant.

        • Brett

          As a follow up question, is a “Star Trek Economy” possible?

          . . . Maybe? It’s a question we can’t really answer until we get some more progress on artificial intelligence, robotics, and new forms of low-production-run manufacturing (like 3D printers).

          I’m inclined to think “no”. To get the Full Star Trek, you’d need an economy where AI and robots can essentially do end-to-end production and provision of goods and services, and do all jobs that humans might need monetary compensation to do. You’d also need a way to quickly and efficiently recycle used material and resources back into new goods and services, and a way to personalize that all so you don’t end up with the typical problems that arose in a fully socialized economy (like in the Warsaw Pact and Soviet Union).

          Will the people who enjoy an outsize fraction of the benefits of the current economy allow the transition to a Star Trek Economy without a fight?

          Definitely not, although it’s possible to see ways to erode their wealth and power short of a revolution. Drastically weaken intellectual property rights, and you’ll eliminate a vast category of rents. Heavily tax land and resource ownership, and you’ll get the same.

    • NewishLawyer

      On another blog, one of the commentators is from from a working-class background. He might be on a higher level. His dad was an airplane mechanic and he finished a PhD in History. He is rather explicit about his preferred policy of wanting more bad jobs over fewer good jobs because of how miserable irregular employment is.

      Bad in this case means in terms of wage and hour.

      • Brett

        I think of it as the “Texas Model”: get as many jobs as possible, regardless of low-pay, and maybe things will work out.

        It does have its advantages. If there are a ton of jobs around the same pay level combined with a low unemployment rate, then it’s a lot easier for you to leave a shitty workplace for one that’s even just marginally less shitty. Not that that means much if the overall job sector is worse than it might otherwise be.

  • Murc

    It’s equally unsurprising that the fastest declining job categories all revolve around the old industrial economy, with both production and movement of goods in collapse.

    Is this true?

    My understanding is that we still make and move a shit-ton of goods, we just need ever-declining numbers of people to do it with.

    • Pseudonym

      It takes a pretty messed-up system to make “more stuff for less work” into a bad thing.

      • Karen24

        Yeah, I really can’t be too upset about the decline of dangerous and mindless production jobs.

        • That’s fine if they are replaced by decent paying jobs. But they aren’t.

          • sapient

            They should be replaced by something other than dangerous and mindless production jobs, which now are also useless.

            • Linnaeus

              Aye, there’s the rub.

        • jim, some guy in iowa

          you all might be surprised how many people are actually kind of proud of doing work you consider dangerous and mindless

          • sapient

            There’s nothing wrong with factory jobs. In fact, although not a factory worker, I’ve done many rather mindless jobs of which I have been rather proud. However, when those jobs have become obsolete, so has the pride. Obsolescence because of technology, offshoring or whatever … it doesn’t matter. When better ways of doing things have come along, so have better things to do.

            It might be nice if we could manage to face a world where there’s less work to do, and more leisure time to do “work” that may not be remunerative. As a society, we have to arrange ourselves so that people have a dignified life anyway, despite not having to assemble widgets nine to five.

            • DrDick

              If they are gone because of offshoring, which is what happened to most of them, then the jobs are not obsolete, as the same jobs are being done there, for less money and no benefits or worker protections. The owners are just greedier and enjoy being able to maim and kill workers with impunity in the developing world. Perhaps it is capitalism that is obsolete.

              • sapient

                Perhaps capitalism is obsolete. More likely though, national trade protectionism is obsolete, and we all need to contend with that fact. An isolated U.S. economy is not coming back, folks. We can certainly try to elect people who want to build worker protection into trade agreements, but if you go to any East Asian manufacturing hub, and look at what’s happening there, you’ll know that it’s just not coming back here. Time to move on to Plan B.

                • Brett

                  No one here so far is arguing for protectionism, just something to try and help folks who get displaced by this, and folks in general who aren’t really suited for college.

                  Some of that might come from better unionization of service sector jobs, although what can be squeezed out of those is often limited. I read an article about the powerful Culinary Union in Las Vegas, and they were bragging about getting a $10/hr floor wage plus health care – hardly the stuff of riches or even really what you’d consider the middle-class. A lot of it will have to come from direct government or subsidized employment, especially in economically devastated areas.

                  . . . . Or they might just do nothing, and let them dwindle in the background with spots of unionization here and there. If the affected population is less than 10-15% of overall workers, that’s probably likely for the US.

                • DrDick

                  There are certainly ways to alter this short of trade protectionism. One is to eliminate most or all corporate tax breaks and raise the corporate and capital gains tax rates (or better yet, tax capital gains the same as labor income). This will dramatically reduce the incentives to offshore.

                • joe from Lowell

                  Indeed, Dr. Dick. The shallow assumption that whatever development in the economy is currently hurting workers is inevitable and natural (delivered in a superior tone to the poor little “folks” who have to stop being so naive about the world) has been a constant in the commentary of those actively pushing to shape the economy in that direction since the middle of the 19th century.

                  Sorry, “folks,” workers have to just accept what the company offers, one at a time, or quit.

                  Sorry, “folks,” industrial machinery is dangerous. It sure would be nice if safety equipment could be installed, “folks,” but that’s just the way it works.

                  Sorry, “folks,” but there’s no way to include all those safety and environmental features on cars and still have affordable models.

                  Of course, none of these things turned out to be true. It wasn’t the actual underlying market fundamentals that made industry work that way, but the desires of the owners of the industry, and efforts by them to undercut others in the industry.

    • NewishLawyer

      The U.S. makes a lot of stuff but it tends to be very high tech and need fewer people for assembly. Those that are needed tend to need higher educations. Not a Bachelors but an Associate Degree level of education.

      What the U.S. no longer really has is a Henry Ford type of Industrial economy where you have massive amounts of relatively unskilled labor producing stuff.

      • Brett

        They just need less people to produce stuff in general in the world (not just the US), at all skill levels in manufacturing (and including management). Manufacturing employment is down worldwide in recent years, even accounting for depressed economic conditions. The sector is going the way of agriculture.

    • Bill Murray

      so you question the statement that the fastest declining job categories revolve around production and movement of goods with the statement that we just need fewer people to make and move goods?

      • Murc

        Erik seemed to be making the statement that the actual production of goods and the moving of said goods around was declining, which is a completely different thing than the jobs pertaining to said production and movement declining.

  • Mike G

    One thing I rarely see addressed is how the job market is becoming more and more ossified through credentialism and compartmentalizing into a ridiculous level of specialization, and employers who won’t hire unless you have the exact-specific defined skill they put in the job description.

    America used to be known in other countries as a place where an innately-talented newbie would have a shot at proving themselves without formal credentials or experience, but not much anymore. Now we’re like old Europe, no college degree or formal credential and your resume never makes it past the first cut.

    And we wind up with idiots who are adept at acquiring credentials but have no innate feel for what they are doing, like MBAs who manage every business the same generic way regardless of product or service.

    IT has become ridiculous this way, driven by clueless ass-covering corporate HR departments. Someone with a decade of experience on one brand of backup software is not going to have any trouble transitioning to a different vendor’s backup software that does the same function.

    • sapient

      If you get 10 resumes of competent people, you’re going to pick the most credentialed person. Or you’re going to pick your brother’s kid. Not sure I see the problem with more education, more opportunities based on education, etc. The problem is that education is too expensive.

      Folks that like to work with their hands can be repair people, craftspeople, landscapers, etc. There are a lot of things out there. We have to pay people to do things, and if we run out of things to do, we have to pay people anyway. It’s not a good idea to base the economy on pretending that everyone has remunerative skills if they don’t.

      • postmodulator

        If you get 10 resumes of competent people, you’re going to pick the most credentialed person.

        No, more and more what you’re seeing in IT is that they get 10 resumes of competent people and decide that not one is good enough. Sometimes this isn’t even an H1-B dodge; they’ll actually let a position go unfilled for months because no one measures up.

        • NewishLawyer

          From what I’ve heard, HR will say that they want 15 years of experience in a coding language that has been around for 10 years.

          • postmodulator

            Sure, although I think more often than not that is a trick so that they can hire an H1-B after complaining that no natives meet their impossible qualification. But just as often it’s stupidity. (I think this was a little bit more common in the first dot-com era, when businesses were springing up based around technologies invented, like, the previous week.)

            • Hob

              Nitpick: if one thing is “more often than not,” then the other thing can’t be “just as often.”

              But I agree that stupidity is very often the reason for strange job description criteria. In my experience, recruiters tend to have only the vaguest understanding of what those criteria mean and whether they’re applicable to the position– just based on the people whose resumes they do consider appropriate enough for an interview (i.e. people who really aren’t appropriate at all unless you just picked phrases out of context), which they presumably wouldn’t bother with if it was an H1B dodge.

              • postmodulator

                Good catch. In first draft, I’m a pretty dumb guy.

          • Yeah, in the 1990s I remember seeing job listings demanding 5 years of Java experience when the language had been around for maybe 2 years.

            • postmodulator

              A friend saw an posting his own employer had up in 1999 requiring five years’ experience with ASP. He called his HR guy and said “You know, it wouldn’t be that easy for you to find five years of HTML.”

        • sapient

          I’m not in IT. You’re right if that’s true. Seriously fnckd up.

          • postmodulator

            I went into a field where nothing works unless you’re careful and intellectual and rational, and while working there I learned everything there is to know about the human capacity for irrationality. (Well, everything I didn’t learn by dating.)

          • guthrie

            When I was looking for work, I saw a good job at a decent, small company re-advertised 2 or 3 times in a year. One of my friends went for it, didn’t get it because he didn’t have some management experience. Job was chemistry- materials science related, I actually vaguely know one of the technicians who worked there, and he was pretty knowledgeable. SO the company wasn’t stupid or bad (no more than normal), but they were after someone with a PhD, some management experience, and the right technical background and experience post-PhD.
            Oddly enough, they couldn’t find the ‘right’ person, but must have wasted thousands of pounds and hundreds of hours on the search.

            • postmodulator

              A fair amount of HR activities seem to involve guaranteeing continued employment for HR. Have you been to a job fair in the past few years? Two or three reps from each employer, displays and tchotchkes, and you talk to them and they tell you “Oh, check for openings on our web site.” What the fuck are you for?

              Anyway, job searches for positions that will never be filled seem like they could serve the same purpose.

        • Mike G

          I’ve seen this plenty of times in IT — and it’s not an H1-B dodge in this case because we don’t hire H1-Bs as a policy.

          I’m guessing it’s because some unicorn job description has been handed down from a consultant or upper management, nobody at the ground level really feels the need for the role, so no-one is going to stick their neck out to say it’s unrealistic and modify it to get the job filled.

          So we end up with an absurdly-specific IT security job going unfilled for two years, when we have people already working for us who could learn the role in a couple of weeks. But which also raises the question, if this job is so damn important that it pays six figures, how have we done just fine with it unfilled for two years?

      • Feathers

        One of the very real problems of forcing education on everyone is that people are have to choose what to get educated in before knowing what the job actually entails and if they have the temperament required to actually do the job day in and day out. You can get a degree in Psychology without having a shred of human empathy or much in the way of social skills. You can then complain bitterly for a long, long, time about not getting certain jobs that should be yours BECAUSE YOU HAVE A DEGREE IN PSYCHOLOGY!!!

        One of the problems with the repair people, craftspeople, et al. argument is that these are actually jobs which require a high level of people skill on top of the actual trade skills. You tend to be working in people’s houses, around their kids, etc. And there is a general amount of paperwork and bookkeeping and self-scheduling involved.

        There needs to be more than a little pushback on companies that are just asking too much. I’ve become convinced that one of the purposes of education reform is to convince everyone that other people who don’t meet their very specific specifications that they came up with today (and were different yesterday) are just broken, broken, broken.

        • guthrie

          And when you are convinced you are broken, you are easy prey for everything from dodgy lenders to bad, dangerous jobs and employers.

      • Mike G

        And that credentialed person may not be the most capable, because the credential may have little to do with the actual reality, as opposed to the management suite delusion, of the job.

        You end up with people who are good at acquiring credentials instead of good at the actual job.

    • postmodulator

      IT has become ridiculous this way, driven by clueless ass-covering corporate HR departments.

      “Overheard” on IRC about fifteen years ago: “To me, there are skills like ‘baking’ and ‘programming.’ To HR, the skills are ‘baking cookies’ and ‘programming Perl,’ and ‘baking cookies’ in no way qualifies you to bake bread.”

      There’s a startup here that has finally figured out that anyone who’s been programming a while can pick up enough Ruby on Rails to be productive over a long weekend. Either this startup is unusually clueful or the Ruby on Rails job market actully got that tight. (But even that’s a sign of cluelessness! There are a zillion frameworks that are mostly okay, and there’s a job shortage for this one specific framework because everyone is an idiot trend-follower.)

    • NewishLawyer

      There was an article in the New York Times on Thursday or Friday about school pressure and stress in well-to-do suburbs. These suburbs tend to be divided relatively equally between white professionals and Asian professionals. The Asian professionals tend to be immigrants or first generation Americans. The White Parents think that the school systems are putting too much pressure on students and one white parents was aghast about hearing her fourth grader complain about not having enough of a resume to get into college.

      The Asian parents tend to want the school system to remain intense and high-pressure. According to the article, this is the only way the Asian parents think that they can make sure their kids stay or get into the upper-middle class. They don’t have the connections that more established Americans have but they can make sure their kids have impeccable grades and credentials.

      I am not sure what the solution is with this many moving parts and disparate interests.

      http://www.nytimes.com/2015/12/26/nyregion/reforms-to-ease-students-stress-divide-a-new-jersey-school-district.html?_r=0

      • Mike G

        A lot of them end up as good test-takers and regurgitators, but with shallow understanding of their subjects. Because their whole focus is acquiring credentials, not learning.

        In college I was in economics classes with people who got way better grades than I and assumed they’d be brilliant and insightful to talk to, but if you tried to discuss current economic events in the world they had no clue or just repeated what they’d read in Time magazine or heard on the network news.

        Because we live in a shallow world, a lot of them did well in business careers — their predilection for regurgitating and lack of deep knowledge never held them back.

        • NewishLawyer

          My girlfriend is from Singapore and a lot of her friends are expats from Singapore and Malaysia. Many were the best of best students and received their university educations in the United States and/or the UK.

          One of her friends got to do a presentation for the Singaporean Minister of Education after her first semester in the U.S. The presentation was largely on how Singapore could benefit from introducing some more American style research and creative education instead of just fitting everyone into boxes. The Minister’s repsonse was that the United States can afford to let people experiment and be hazy and possibly also bohemians for a bit because the United States is a large country of 300 plus million people. We have room to slack for people like me who spend their 20s pursuing art and settle on a career later. Singapore does not have this luxury if it wants to compete in the global economy. If you ever heard a Lee Kwan Yew speech, his favorite metaphor for Singapore was a Welterweight Boxer.

          The Malaysian friends seem to receive a high school education that consisted of math and science, math and science, and more math and science. Who knows how wealthy people need to be before they think education should be more about intellect than about job and economic issues.

          • Ronan

            Singapore is hardly a poor country though, so this is probably closer to a cultural factor + developmental strategy + institutional inertia. In a lot of relatively poor catholic countries they had the opposite problem, not enough focus on practical and technical skills, too much on ethics snd the humanities. There’s a reason the global elite get sent to US universities, they have the best mix

          • Ronan

            I would guess as a simple model of development you could break it down to poor country – middle income – rich.
            In poor countries the educational problems are teaching people to read and write . In middle income, once you’ve reached a certain level of literacy you have a larger middle and upper working class that you need to educate beyond the basics. As a lot of middle income countries (particularly in Asia) adopt top down developmental strategies , the education system can come to represent the preferences, values and interests (part of which is maintaining political control ) of the political and social elite.
            In rich countries you have more individualised educational opportunities for these classes, which makes sense (IMO).
            Teaching science and maths all day is stupid, not only because it limits your education more generally and develops your thinking only in one direction, but because even at a practical level in most jobs you won’t use maths or science to that high a level on a regular basis.
            In short, I think I have more trust in the correctness of your friend than the Singaporean minister of education with his self interested excuse making

      • Ronan

        There’s a huge amount of selection bias with the caricatured ” first generation Asian immigrants in the suburbs.” Most come to the US highly qualified, with significant resources (personal as much as financial). The “drive to succeed” probably reflects these personal characteristics as much as it does a genuine realistic fear of falling “out of the upper class”

    • Hogan

      Obviously the problem is that federal law that made on-the-job training illegal. My God, what were we thinking?

    • guthrie

      Hey, you just agreed with what I noticed recently. Here in the UK recruitment for many jobs is difficult, and employers complain of skills shortages. Part of the reason is that as you say, the market is very specialised, and so of course they can’t find who they need.

    • LeeEsq

      The good old days when you could be hired without credentials because the boss liked your moxie only worked if you were a White Christian man. Good luck if you were a woman, not white, or not a Christian. Having credentials always helped though.

      • Ronan

        Yeah, the interesting (though often ignored or underplayed) factor is gender. A heavy industry dominated economy locks women disproportionately out of employment. One of the interesting consequences of our current economic arrangements is how women (at all socio economic levels)seem to be (relatively) prospering. So there are consequences of an industrial economy that provides well paid jobs for men.
        Even if you look at Germany, which has maintained a relatively strong industrial sector, they also have less proportionate female psrticipation in the workforce. Now These might be trade offs worth making, but they are trade offs, and genuine distributional conflicts.

        • A heavy industry dominated economy locks women disproportionately out of employment.

          This is pretty half-baked. Yes, it’s true that heavy industry was traditionally dominated by men, although this was changing beginning in the 1970s. But the idea that we should simply take away those jobs without replacing them with other good-paying jobs to create some sort of gender equality where all working-class jobs pay poorly is not exactly some sort of gendered paradise. Moreover, having heavy industry in no conceivable way excludes other jobs. This is not a zero-sum game. The fact that no one has come up with working-class jobs for women that have somehow led to high wages and strong union representation is a sign that you may want to rethink this.

          • Ronan

            I’m not saying it’s zero sum or that it’s a gendered paradise. I’m saying that the service economy has opened up more employment opportunities for women and that they are prospering in them relative to men. This is also true of our greater emphasis on education. None of this says theres no room for a greater development of industrial capacity, or that our current economic arrangements are ideal, just that the days of economies built around heavy industry did (by the nature of the jobs) exclude women.

            • I’m saying that the service economy has opened up more employment opportunities for women and that they are prospering in them relative to men.

              The word “prosper” has no place in describing the service economy.

              And the nature of heavy industry did not exclude women, as we discovered in World War II.

        • Malaclypse

          A heavy industry dominated economy locks women disproportionately out of employment.

          I never heard of Rosie the Riveter or the Munitionettes either.

          Men locked women out of employment. The type of industry had exactly jack shit to do with that.

          • Ronan

            Two examples don’t disprove a thesis. The idea that the type of industry has jack shit to do with it is ridiculous. Go to the mines in a developed economy with institutional protections against discriminatory hiring practices such as Australia and get back to me

        • LeeEsq

          Women did get lots of employment in light industry like textile and clothing manufacture though or food and beverage processing though. Many high tech manufacturing companies preferred to hire women because they believed they were more nimble than men with their fingers. Yes, this is sexist but the point is that you can have a manufacturing economy that employs a lot of woman.

          That wasn’t my point though. My point was that the pre-credential society worked best if you were a white man in the United States. It allowed white men without credentials to be hired for relatively good paying white collar jobs because the boss liked their moxie or climb up the corporate ladder from the mail room. If you weren’t white, you were generally made to stay at the bottom.

          • Many high tech manufacturing companies preferred to hire women because they believed they were more nimble than men with their fingers. Yes, this is sexist but the point is that you can have a manufacturing economy that employs a lot of woman.

            This is a myth. They hired women using the nimble fingers excuse because they could pay women less than men.

            • LeeEsq

              It could be both. The high tech companies could have preferred women because they knew they could pay them less and because they sincerely believed that women had nimbler fingers than men because of sexism.

            • DrDick

              That is also the excuse they used here (and still do in South Asia) for hiring children in the textile industry.

          • Ronan

            Yes, my emphasis was on heavy industry. Even in things like construction today its a disproportionately male dominated industry. Whether this is because of sexism , social conditioning, or physical differences between men and women, the fact stands that even in advanced societies there is gender clustering in specific industries . I got your larger point, which is why I didn’t emphasise the explicitly discriminatory aspects you were highlighting

  • BruceJ

    it’s also notable that the single biggest category of job growth is wind turbine technician

    Phenomenal growth is the norm for professions that start from, essentially, zero. :

    Employment (2012) 3,000 employees
    Projected growth (2012-2022) Much faster than average (22% or higher) Much faster than average (22% or higher)
    Projected job openings (2012-2022) 1,300

    4300 jobs aren’t a drop in the bucket, they’re a bit of wind blown spray off the drop as it fell into the bucket.

    I have a much much gloomier outlook than Nobody, above; I suspect a neo-Jay Gould will actually carry out his threat “I can hire one-half of the working class to kill the other half.” What happens when they control, say, Terminator robots?

    After all when the robots take over production the plutocrats need us like they need horses; in 1915 the estimated horse population was 21 million; today it’s about 2.

    The same will happen when they don’t need human workers, either. Some will be kept as pets, servants or competitors in some sort of games, but they won’t need 7 or 8 billion of us…

  • sapient

    they won’t need 7 or 8 billion of us

    Maybe we don’t need 7 or 8 billion of us.

    • NewishLawyer

      Maybe we don’t but 7 to 8 billion people exist and any program to reduce the population is nasty, brutish, illiberal, immoral, unethical, etc. We have this number of people and need to think of policies to help people. Not to say “Maybe we should cut the world’s population in half!” How are you going to do that in a humane and ethical manner?

      • Nobdy

        Educating (and liberating) women is a very good population control method that is not at all immoral. It will not cause an immediate drop in population, but over time it has proven quite effective at lowering birth rates.

        • sapient

          This.

          • postmodulator

            Are you going to do much more than slow the rate of growth with birth control? People want to have children.

            • Just a Rube

              Some people want kids, some don’t. And not all the ones who do want kids want more than one.

              There are plenty of countries in the world that already have fertility rates below the replacement level.

              • sapient

                Not sure whether this wikipedia article is correct, but hope it is: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sub-replacement_fertility

                • Ronan

                  I don’t know if the specifics are but the trend is. Emmanuel Todd wrote a book on this

                  http://cup.columbia.edu/book/a-convergence-of-civilizations/9780231150026

                  Though he concentrated on Muslim majority countries , where “fertility has collapsed from 6.8 children per woman in 1975 to 3.5 in 2005”. One of The main factors (though not only) causing this , by his telling , was the rising literacy rate among women over the same period

              • Redwood Rhiadra

                Yes, there are sub-replacement rates in some countries, but it’s really not *that* much below replacement.

                If the world average fertility rate dropped tomorrow to be equal to Japan’s current rate (which is the lowest fertility rate currently), it would take slightly over a thousand years before the population fell to a billion.

                Birth control will *not* lead us to a sustainable population in anywhere near enough time.

            • guthrie

              Yup, it’s already been done in many many countries.
              Or rather, the full story is, emancipation for women, birth cotrol, and economic development. Together they destroy birth rates.

            • I did my part by not having any.

              No telling what kind of demonic little hellspawn I might have produced.

        • LeeEsq

          That will work in the long run but the current population isn’t going to magically disappear and we have no good mechanism for bringing education and liberation to women in illiberal places or in illiberal subsections of the developed world without returning to 19th century imperialism or massive violation of other core liberal values like the right to privacy. Illiberal places are going to have to undergo many changes first. Another problem is that we don’t have a good way to deal with the problems of rapidly aging and declining societies but immigration as Japan demonstrates. If the number of people are declining globally than the immigration solution disappears.

          • Ronan

            But it is happening. Literacy rates are rising globally and fertility dropping, even in illiberal countries.

    • Jackov

      ductus exemplo

  • Aaron Baker

    Yet anyone with working class relatives knows that some are simply not suited for higher education under any circumstances for a variety of reasons.

    Or, for that matter, anybody with a loved one who has severe learning disabilities. Radicalization can have many, concurrent causes, and I know this is one of them.

    • Absolutely.

      • sapient

        Except that learning disabled people don’t have to work in factories. They can be bakers, for example.

        • guthrie

          Here in the UK, the government defunded then sold off/ shut down Remploy, who employed disabled people to make/ do stuff. Sure, they were a net drain on the treasury, but now these disabled people are stuck at home getting depressed and so on, rather than out there doing something.
          I recall also an acquaintance mentioning two guys he’d known 20 years ago, developmentally subnormal, but they were employed to clean the streets, were known about and did a decent job. Nowadays though there aren’t just forms involved in street cleaning, there’s fancy equipment that can crush you or run away and knock people down, and he was’t sure they would be able to hold down such a job now. Even simple jobs have been automated; unless they manage to find an artisan bakery that needs hand working, it’s a bit harder to find work than you think, and of course artisan bakery assumes there are enough rich people who can buy it.

  • Regarding Loomis’s 100% valid point that some perfectly good folks aren’t cut out for higher ed:

    We’ve all had the experience of being annoyed by some naive idiot employee at McDonald’s, Walmart, Comcast, you name it.

    Those companies have chosen a high-turnover/low-wage employee base. You don’t get anyone with experience doing those jobs.

    I would like to know what federal policy (tax-based or otherwise) could penalize this model and create incentives to hire service employees for the long term.

    • Nobdy

      There are plenty of potential policies. You could offer tax benefits for employers based on percentage of the workforce who has been employed for certain milestones. You could implement a national unemployment insurance plan and force large employers to pay based on usage of the system by their ex-employees. You can make it difficult to fire people through various other schemes.

      With something like this there are many ways the incentive can be structured.

    • James B. Shearer

      I would like to know what federal policy (tax-based or otherwise) could penalize this model and create incentives to hire service employees for the long term.

      It’s simple enough. Just raise the minimum wage until it is no longer cost effective to hire lousy employees and put up with their faults because they are cheap. Of course this means the lousy employees will now all be unemployed but they won’t be annoying you which is the important thing.

      • Brett

        It would be a market-wide change, so we don’t know for sure. They could offset a lot of the gain through price increases – in fact, that came up in a previous post here at LGM that fast food places in San Francisco had raised prices in response to wage increases.

    • Brett

      A high minimum wage would do it, since they’d have a stronger incentive to up-skill their workers. Costco is the model here – they have good pay for retail and high productivity, although it does come at a cost of lower number of employees and very strong selectivity in hiring.

      Turnover is easiest to fix with unionization.

      • SamChevre

        [Good pay and low turnover] does come at a cost of lower number of employees and very strong selectivity in hiring.

        The above is why I’m not enthusiastic about trying to eliminate “bad jobs.” I spent the summer before senior year of college loading boxes on trucks at FedEx. That would have been a horrible job for a long-term job, but it was really good for a three-month job. There need to be some jobs with low selectivity and high turnover, or people will find getting a first job, or a summer job, really hard.

        The key thing is more good jobs, not fewer bad jobs.

      • Brett

        Hmm, this doesn’t seem quite right to me now. A minimum wage hike would affect all participants in the marketplace, so it would be different than with one employer raising wages above the others like with Costco. It’s more likely that you’d get a mix of lower employment and price hikes.

  • Brett

    The “everybody goes to college” route is even more troubling when you consider the drop-out rate. It’s around 45%, and that’s after including students in the completion statistics who finish their degrees at other colleges after dropping out of their initial ones. A sizable number of people who even start college don’t end up being really suited for it, or derailed by something else (although in fairness, a big chunk of that might be financial concerns – if college was free or very low tuition, the completion rate might be much higher).

    Honestly, a lot of people aren’t even that well suited to high school education. They complete it and get their diplomas because of social promotion. Decades ago, a lot of them would have dropped out and gone into work earlier on (like my paternal grandfather). But most of them did find jobs and do reasonably well for working-class folks.

    • guthrie

      Also some % of people, not sure what, simply don’t suit higher education when they are 17 or 18, they need to get out there, crash their car, let off some steam and work out what they want to do. Then 10 years later they can return and go to college with a much better idea of what they want to do and how to do it.

      • Brett

        The “gap year”. The downside is that the longer you’re out, the more you forget what you learned in high school. I’d like to think that’s the reason why community colleges around here make students take math and english placement tests, although I suspect it’s actually because they can make more money that way.

    • Unemployed_Northeastern

      I agree with what you are saying, but if I am not mistaken, a sizable plurality of “dropouts” are actually people who transfer from community college to a four-year program. Don’t ask me why, but they are counted as dropouts.

      Two other brief notes:

      – We have already greatly increased the number of degrees in the workplace. Per NCES data, we produce more master’s and doctoral level degrees these days than bachelor’s degrees as recently as the mid-1980’s.

      – The “everyone needs a degree” push originates from the Lumina Foundation, which was cofounded by Sallie Mae and an erstwhile student loan guarantor, and endowed to the tune of $700 million by Sallie. Its actual mission statement is to increase the percentage of American adults with college degrees (or “degree equivalents”) from today’s ~35% to 60% by 2025. Which would nicely create a decade of massive revenue growth for Sallie Mae. The other main promoter of the college for all movement is the Gates Foundation, which was created by… a college dropout who now styles himself an expert in higher education policy.

      • Brett

        I agree with what you are saying, but if I am not mistaken, a sizable plurality of “dropouts” are actually people who transfer from community college to a four-year program. Don’t ask me why, but they are counted as dropouts.

        I mentioned that in my comment, that the 45% figure comes after including students who finish at a different college in the completion rate. If you don’t count those students, the completion rate drops to 42% from 55%.

  • MyOhMy

    I notice that “healthcare support” is the very fastest growing category.

    Which reminds me that southern border regions like the Lower Rio Grande Valley are popular destinations for retirees because of the weather, the low cost of living, and relatively affordable healthcare support. Why is healthcare support cheaper there? Because a lot of it is provided by those dread illegal aliens who, like their compatriots in construction and agriculture, tend to be paid quite modestly.

  • Pingback: Career opportunities - Lawyers, Guns & Money : Lawyers, Guns & Money()

  • BiloSagdiyev

    #3 – “Yet anyone with working class relatives knows that some are simply not suited for higher education under any circumstances for a variety of reasons. This has to be taken seriously for social stability. ”

    a) a lot of our elites do not know these people or work with these people. That’s one reason I’m glad I bumbled into the career that I do have. Had I become the Fancy Lad I was supposed to have become, I never would have known what’s going on out there

    2) My comment at “a” mostly applies to pointy-headed educated liberal elites. As for the right wing authoritarians, stability, schmability! RELEASE THE MRAPS! Cram the private prisons full! Any and all violations!

  • Pingback: Links 1/4/16 | Mike the Mad Biologist()

It is main inner container footer text