Opinion

David Rohde

Yes, we’re creating jobs, but how’s the pay?

By David Rohde
January 5, 2012

Update: The December job numbers released this morning continued the same trend described in yesterday’s column. Of the 200,000 new jobs created last month, 78,000 – or nearly 40 percent — were in transportation, warehousing and retail, sectors known for low pay and seasonal hiring. In a far more positive sign, manufacturing gained 23,000 workers in December after four months of little change. A vast expansion of that trend would benefit the middle class tremendously.

WASHINGTON — Between now and November, middle class Americans are going to hear an enormous amount of bragging about job creation.

Mitt Romney will tout his role in the creation of Staples, The Sports Authority and Domino’s, three firms that he says created 100,000 jobs. Barack Obama will say 2.9 million jobs have been created since March 2010, and highlight a surge of 140,000 new private sector jobs in November.

The central question for middle class Americans, however, is: What quality of job is being created? The November job surge, for example, occurred primarily in retail, leisure and hospitality, sectors known for low wages. The other high-growth areas were professional services and health care, where higher education is a central determinant of income. Manufacturing and construction, one of the few areas left in the American economy where members of the middle class without elite educational pedigrees can find strong wages, were moribund. The following chart from the Bureau of Labor Statistics breaks down the numbers.

In a rare moment of bipartisan agreement, Republicans and Democrats both recognize the problem. After years of Democratic politicians complaining about a lack of social mobility for Americans, The New York Times reported this morning that Republican candidates are complaining about the problem as well.

Presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum warned this fall that movement “up into the middle income is actually greater, the mobility in Europe, than it is in America,” according to The Times. Wisconsin Congressman Paul D. Ryan, a leading House conservative, recently wrote that “mobility from the very bottom up” is “where the United States lags behind.”

The story reported that at least five large studies in recent years have found the United States to be less mobile than comparable nations. A Swedish research project found that 42 percent of American men raised in the bottom fifth of incomes stay there as adults. In Denmark, the number was 25 percent. In Britain, it was 30 percent. At the same time, only 8 percent of American men at the bottom rose to the top fifth. That compares with 12 percent of the British and 14 percent of the Danes.

A Canadian study found that just 16 percent of Canadian men raised in the bottom tenth of incomes stayed there as adults, compared with 22 percent of Americans, The Times reported. Similarly, 26 percent of American men raised at the top tenth stayed there, but just 18 percent of Canadians.

Economists argue that a central tool in reviving the middle class – and creating social mobility – is the creation of better-paying middle class jobs. Like so much else, that task is enormously complex. Scholars say the reduction in pay is the product of worldwide economic trends, from technological change to globalization, that are difficult to counter. Harry Holzer, an economist at Georgetown University, tracked which parts of the economy featured high paying jobs over time. The percentage of well-paying jobs provided by the manufacturing sector fell by half – from roughly 27 percent in 1992 to 13.5 percent in 2003.

Holzer notes that the nature of business in the United States changed over the last several decades. In the past, large, capital-intensive manufacturing companies faced relatively little competition from overseas and depended on workers in the United States.

“Big, stable, highly profitable and not very competitive means a bigger pie,” Holzer said in an interview. “The simplest thing to do is to cut a bigger slice of the pie for workers.”

That business model has disappeared. Globalization caused American firms to face fiercer competition from foreign companies. And technological change allowed American firms to ship manufacturing overseas but still tightly monitor quality. Overall, companies have gained the upper hand on workers, who are increasingly easy to replace.

Paul Osterman, an MIT professor, agreed that those dynamics are irreversible. But he argued that some changes in American business norms unnecessarily accelerated the elimination of middle class jobs. Executives once praised for creating jobs are now rewarded for eliminating them.

“Think about who gets their picture on the cover of Fortune.” he said. “It used to be the ones that were admired were the ones who treated their workers as a family. Now it’s all about re-engineering, downsizing and shareholder value.”

Osterman said research shows that companies have reduced the amount of training they give their workers. He advocates tax incentives that would encourage companies to retrain employees.

Jared Bernstein, a senior fellow at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities and a former economic adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, said the U.S. should not repeat the mistake it made after the last two downturns: building a recovery on a financial bubble.

“A lot of money shuffling at the top, a lot of arbitrage, which has very little to do with adding productive capacity to your economy,” he said. “A better way would be to add jobs that produce value, manufacturing jobs.”

He advocated that the American government adopt a manufacturing policy similar to the one Germany employs, where public-private partnerships target areas where German firms could gain global market share. Such an approach is anathema to many, though not all, business leaders.

The political debate, meanwhile, remains polarized. Democrats see government jobs as a tool in strengthening the middle class, arguing that police, teachers and sanitation workers stabilize the economy. Republicans see government jobs as relentlessly growing cancer that stifles the private sector.

Bureau of Labor Statistics data shows that overall government employment steadily grew from the 1940 to the 1970s, according to Bernstein. Since then, it has declined slightly.


Chart: Jared Bernstein, Data: Bureau of Labor Statistics

Hoping for constructive debate in a presidential election year is naive. And bipartisan commissions are notoriously ineffective. But I wish the National Academy of Sciences or some other nonpolitical group could be tasked with creating a Simpson-Bowles-like effort to examine ways to create better paying jobs. GE’s Jeffrey Immelt and other American executives who have doubled-down on American manufacturing could be included. So could retired Democrats and Republicans willing to move beyond party orthodoxy.

Study after study shows that a dearth of high-paying jobs is dividing our society, politics and middle class. We are falling behind the Canadians, British, and Europeans, as well as the Chinese and Indians. An honest debate over what mix of approaches might save us would be a godsend.

Comments
28 comments so far | RSS Comments RSS

When the pay is 1/2, the politicians can claim credit for the NUMBER of jobs created.

But when they spend or tax, or complain about the deficit or debt, they talk in terms of AMOUNTS in DOLLARS.

Posted by XRayD | Report as abusive
 

One of the points you fail to outline is the level of tax rates in the countries that outpace the US in upward mobility. They are closer to what the US used to have which did more for the greater good of our nation and the economy. They seem to demonstrate successes socially and economically ‘in spite of’ their tax rates. (much to the chagrin of Republicans)

The other is the ‘Socialized’ nature of each of the nations you’ve outlined in their policies towards healthcare and education (in contrast to the US). They ensure everyone has a better chance to achieve in life, and the numbers are reflected.

In the US you spend half of your life getting out of the debt you’ve accrued for your education, and then spend the other half of your life paying for your overpriced healthcare…until you go broke and die.

Posted by NobleKin | Report as abusive
 

An inconvenient several truths:

1. Each government “job”, i.e. worker on the bureaucratic payroll with full benefits, IS a relentlessly growing cancer that consumes taxpayer’s taxes and produces NOTHING! Teachers, Police and Firemen (government’s “servicemen”) are mostly union, so efficiency and performance mean nothing while seniority make the useless impossible to fire. That undue advantage will disappear once taxpayers figure out it is unnecessary preferential treatment THEY don’t get.

2. Each “middle class job” with high pay is automatically at the top of any company’s list to consolidate, outsource or automate. As Willie Sutton said, “That’s where the money is”. So long as it is possible to get the work done cheaper and/or more inexpensively or efficiently, the “writing is on the wall” for each such job.

3. As the “minimum wage” continues to rise, expect to see further automation in the manner already common with gas stations. Machines CAN flip and assemble burgers, burritos, pizzas, etc. and package fries, etc. One or two humans will just load and unload freezers, help customers learn to keyboard orders, trouble-shoot transactions, etc. as necessary, unlock and lock the doors to open or close.

Employees won’t touch the money, so robbery will be more difficult (armored car pickup at random times depending on cash in the machines). Everyone will learn to get by with several part-time jobs; as those become increasingly the way “business is done”.

Complain, protest, hold your breath until you turn blue. Not gonna make a bit of difference. This is the future unless you are some kind of “professional” or can start and run a business.

Posted by OneOfTheSheep | Report as abusive
 

And if you’re lucky enough to own a huge corporation, you may be able to find tax loopholes that you can ram a truck through and pretty much avoid paying taxes. Not only can you avoid paying taxes, you can rack up record profits during this recession, hold back investing and hoard massive amounts of cash.

You can also cut jobs as you buyback stock and if you’re executive class give yourself massive amounts of compensation and bonuses all at the same time and pat yourself on the back. If you’re huge like Wal-mart, you can pay slave wages and cut benefits to shore up the bottom line which then costs the taxpayer as those workers go to the state for aid. In other words, privatize your profits and socialize your losses. I guess it’s true what they say, greed is not only good, it’s legal. Short-term profit seeking at all costs.

Only government jobs are the problem? Right.

Posted by TheUSofA | Report as abusive
 

For Pete’s sake people, nothing is ever going to change if you don’t change the people in charge. Demand term limits for congressmen. They won’t do it, it has to be a public referendum on the ballot. We need to put it there, the politicians will not.

545 People run this country:
1 President
100 Senators
435 Representatives
9 supreme court members

We can all piss and moan about every little topic that comes up, but it will do no good as long as the power bases remain intact. A couple young politicians with good intentions don’t get on committees that make a difference. Those are controlled by the power players.
Term Limits for Congressmen and the Supreme Court, and Campaign finance reform are the only way. Then we can start to fix things.

Posted by tmc | Report as abusive
 

“Paul Osterman, an MIT professor, agreed that those dynamics (the effects of globaliztion) are irreversible.”

Nonsense. “Globalization” (the “let’s all hold hands and go down together” word for “free trade”) is a trade policy choice the U.S. made when it signed the Global Agreement on Tariffs and Trade in 1947. Our membership in the World Trade Organization (whose stated mission is to tilt trade in favor of developing nations) is a choice. We can choose to end our membership in the WTO and reclaim the right to manage trade in our own best self-interest.

“He advocated that the American government adopt a manufacturing policy similar to the one Germany employs, where public-private partnerships target areas where German firms could gain global market share.”

We’ve heard about this German model a lot recently. There’s just one problem. Germany has the U.S. to serve as its patsy consumer. There is no other “U.S.” for the U.S. to exploit in a similar fashion.

Global trade imbalances are driven by disparities in per capita consumption arising from the inverse relationship between population density and per capita consumption. Free trade with badly overpopulated nations like Japan, Germany, China and a host of others is a sure-fire loser for the U.S. The only remedy is a return to trade policy that makes smart use of tariffs to assure a balance of trade – the same policy we employed for the first 150 years of our nation’s history to build us into the world’s dominant industrial power.

Pete Murphy
Author, “Five Short Blasts”

Posted by Pete_Murphy | Report as abusive
 

Pete…this is not the 1860′s. The world has changed. We need smart regulatory, tax and spending reform and we can dominate in a globalized world. We are competing with other nations for jobs, we just need to make America the most attractive place to invest.

Jaham
Author, The Above Comment

Posted by jaham | Report as abusive
 

Jaham – If by “making America the most attractive place to invest” you mean further cutting corporate taxes so the CEOs can make even more billions while cutting the wages of the 99% even more than they already have, then thanks, I’ll pass.

I’m tired of all the Republicans saying that if workers and unions have the audacity to ask for a living wage that all the “job creators” will just take their ball and run home to China and there’s nothing we can do to stop them. The hell there’s not! Tax the hell out of outsourced jobs and raise tarriffs on imports to eliminate the advantage of outsourcing.

Posted by 4ngry4merican | Report as abusive
 

Sir, after reading your article, I downloaded the US wage data for the last 5 decades or so. I see that there has been considerable growth in per capita income between any 5 years that I see. How do you subtantiate your argument that most of the job growth has been in the low wage verticals like retail? We should have then seen a decline in the per capita income.

Posted by Sudhatric | Report as abusive
 

I understand why some people believe that isolationism will be an effective economic policy. They see that it was done in the past (when America’s position in the global socio-economic pyramid was much lower), when the world was very different (politically and economically), and they think we can replicate it today with the same prosperous results.

That is not the case.

Real wages haven’t increased in America in over a decade but American’s still have more money to purchase a lot of consumer goods that they didn’t have a decade ago (e.g. ipod, ipad, smartphone, flatscreen TV’s). This is a result of the American dollar having increased purchasing power, even though it is weaker on the glabal market, because of the reduced cost of producing manufactured goods through outsourcing.

If America were to eliminate the importation of manufactured goods, with the pure hearted intent of creating jobs in America and eliminating an even larger number of jobs over seas, then only the top 1% would be able to offord those manufactured goods.

The cost of labor to make the products would be enormous by their current comparison. Developing nations where these goods are currently manufactured are also the same nations where most of the natural resources come from to make the parts for the goods. If we wanted to buy the natural resources then the developing nations that we would be waging economic warfare with through our tarriffs would simply force us to pay a premium price and pay taxes for the right purchase those natural resources from them.

Isolationism is a great way to make Americans even poorer, ruin the global economy, and start a world war.

The global economy is healthy. The developed world is just struggling to adapt to competing with developing nations. The solution is to work smarter not harder. Increased education and job skill levels are what is needed to create more “middle class” jobs in developed nations. Nations at the top of the global socio-economic pyramid have to perform “smarter” jobs then the nations below them in the pyramid in order to retain their position at the top.

The day Americans stop thinking that they have a right to higher standard-of-living then the rest of the world just because they were born within a certain geographic boundary, is the day that America will have the mind set that it needs to win the global economic competition.

Exiting globalization is quiting and being afraid of competition. I don’t think America was made great by a bunch of quiters and cowards and I don’t turning to a policy that emulates those qualities will make America great in the future.

Posted by 1stMartain | Report as abusive
 

@jaham:

It is no longer the 1860′s but it is also no longer 1950 and time for the Marshall Plan, which is what we have been doing.

Many people in this country yearn for the good old days of the Cold War when we had a clear purpose for and reason for the world’s largest military. Just as many Russians yearn for the USSR. Both are equally dangerous Imperialists who the world would be far better off without. Understand this: we no longer have to live within John Kennedy’s lines.

We do not have to have “globalization” which is really a code word for our current un-free trade system anchored more than any other place on the grossly overvalued US dollar.

If you sell two screwdrivers, same size, same quality, one for $1. and the other for $2. the question of which one will sell the most is obviously silly. It works the same with labor. But if you change the exchange rate so that both screwdrivers sell for $1. you have a contest. The US Government must price US labor to cost the same as competitive foreign labor. It is fairly easy to calculate and far, far, far from the Republican “free trade” bs we have been suffering through for the past 50 years.

Through “free trade” advocates like Romney, we have taxed Americans to train Chinese scientists in universities supposedly in place to help Americans, then exported undesirable jobs such as IBM and Intel research laboratories to China and Israel while replacing them with Dominoes pizza deliverers. That is not free trade. That is using Government power to create billionaire Romneys and pizza makers by misusing Government power. Using Government to artificially create billionaires is worse than using Government to feed our own hungry citizens. It is the heart of “globalization”. Globalization == tax subsidized job exports.

Posted by txgadfly | Report as abusive
 

There are many articles like this – and like many of them, it seems to assume that high or decent paying jobs for low skills is somehow the norm – but it is not. Yes, it happened once – in the never to be repeated post-WW II economic boom – with the US having no competition and monopoly industries – like automobiles, which employed hundreds of thousands (not the several thousand of Facebook)at, truth be told, artificially high wages. As far as recent creation of low paying retail jobs – the retail industry has always been low paying – even during the postwar boom – nothing remarkable about that.

Posted by SayHey | Report as abusive
 

The lack of basic intelligence in this report is breath-taking. About 15 percent of the American people are blacks. About 15 percent of the American people are latino. The image that the economy and employment of the USA is comparable to that of any other nation on Earth is ludicrous and preposterous, factually false and untrue, wrong and utterly wrongheaded. There is no other nation that has comparable demographics. We’re talking about two large minority groups who make up almost 30 percent of the population of the entire country.

The result that the two minority groups who do least well in school will subsequently do poorly in employment is merely a natural and obvious progression. There is no secret or surprise to the differences between employment numbers in the USA and other countries. The difference is a direct effect of the difference in demographics between the US and all other nations. The situation described in the report is not a mystery. It is flagrantly, blindingly obvious.

‘Presidential candidate and former Pennsylvania Senator Rick Santorum warned this fall that movement “up into the middle income is actually greater, the mobility in Europe, than it is in America,” according to The Times. Wisconsin Congressman Paul D. Ryan, a leading House conservative, recently wrote that “mobility from the very bottom up” is “where the United States lags behind.”’ Well, duh. Can any American honestly claim he doesn’t know and understand perfectly well WHY that is the case? You’ve got to be kidding. Being delusional is one thing, being locked in acute denial quite another.

Posted by FirstAdvisor | Report as abusive
 

“Real wages haven’t increased in America in over a decade but American’s still have more money to purchase a lot of consumer goods that they didn’t have a decade ago.”

That doesn’t appear to be a logical statement. And, the millions of people who don’t have jobs would disagree.

“Developing nations where these goods are currently manufactured are also the same nations where most of the natural resources come from to make the parts for the goods”

Please visit Australia and Canada.

“The global economy is healthy.”

That was hilarious. I could go on and on but I don’t like comments that are longer than the article.

Posted by M.C.McBride | Report as abusive
 

(a) The pathetic state of our national education system is a major factor in our decline. Unless you live in a education-focused section of the country, chances are you’ll graduate high school with an 8th grade education and without a single marketable skill (except for athletes, see below).

(b) When I see athletic venues packed to the gills, week after week, I find it hard to believe there is a huge problem with our economy. I have a middle-class job. Middle-class people are still spending money on luxury items. Haven’t seen any bread lines, despite the apocalyptic media hype.

(c) The unemployed skilled labor workforce chose to align their profession with a skill that is no longer relevant. Bummer. It happens. The risk has ALWAYS been there.

The question is – where is the vision of the future that guides our decision-making? In which direction should we now be looking? Our leaders have FAILED to meet this challenge, choosing instead to wield power and build personal wealth. Where are the deep thinkers?

Many people have lost faith in the world. To them, everyone is a consumer and there seems to be nothing further for mankind to accomplish.

Posted by Still22 | Report as abusive
 

@M.C.McBride,

The first quote is about how manufactured goods in America are less expensive (adjusted for inflation) now then they were over a decade ago because of the lowered costs derived from outsourcing and globalization (they are not the same thing).

Example: A cell phone over a decade ago that could only make calls and send texts is more expensive then a cell phone today that only makes calls and sends text.

The second quote is true. Most industrial commodities (I don’t want to bore you with too much typing by putting the definition here so you’ll have to look it up) are mined in developing nations (that doesn’t include the U.S.). Australia and Canada aren’t in the U.S. either.

Also mining only accounts for approximately 15% of GDP for Canada and 11% of GDP for Australia. Those are gross number. I could give you the lower net numbers but I wouldn’t want to bore you with a long comment so you’ll have to look those up too.

The third quote is me refering to the world as a whole. I consider myself a citizen of the human species so when humans overall are better off I am happy. This refers to the healthy growth of the developing world. While the developing world only accounts for 25% of the global economy it accounts for over half of the global economies growth.

That being said, a percentage point of growth in GDP in the developing world employs more people then a percentage point of growth of GDP in America. Global unemployment is at an all time low.

Too bad you don’t like comments that are longer then articles but I guess that’s why things have to be broken down and explained to you.

Posted by 1stMartain | Report as abusive
 

we put too much money into wars and the military. Spent billions per month in Iraq alone, not to mention billions in Afghanistan, and Pakistan. The U.S. spends more on ‘defense’ per capita by far than any other country on earth. If half of that money were put into education and helping small businesses along, we’d be much better off.

Posted by mahadragon | Report as abusive
 

The ability to make a good living without having a collage education means that we are actually building something instead of sitting in an office attending meetings that accomplish nothing or making money off of another’s labor, or like Wall Street these days, gambling. I suggest that the money to pay the salaries of all those lost jobs went directly into the upper level management salaries. Hundreds of millions of dollars will employ a lot of middle class workers. Let the companies that hire their workers overseas move there, and let American companies be American again.

Posted by lhathaway | Report as abusive
 

thanks david, good analysis of an important topic

Posted by scythe | Report as abusive
 

Statistics can say just about anything but, in this case, they do not address underlying issues. One of the biggest concerns is the fact that a large percentage of people taking these jobs are now making a lot less than they were before. Whether or not they were previously making more than they should is not the issue. The fact that the vast majority of people getting hired are having to deal with severe downsizing in the home is a major problem.

Posted by davidky | Report as abusive
 

There are so many reasons america has lost the edge, more articles and hours would be required just to address them. So I will mention only a few.

Penalizing imports which results in retaliation from other nations puts us in the once tried position that deepened the abyss of the great depression. When we had ONLY ourselves to trade with (as we did then) we must shrink to a much smaller economy and accept a more modest life style.

Regulation for the purpose of creating work and power for regulators is rampant today. None of these increases the ease of production or increases american companies competetive position. In the middle of the celebrated Clinton years, 15 years ago, we had (according to a recent NYTimes article) 15 thousand less regulations! Regulators have been pumping out ten new ones per day, 24/7 for the last decade and a half! How many of those actually encumbered the economy and how many really did anything constructive at all? What was so terribly wrong in the prosperous Clinton years that needed more than a hundred new regs to rectify?

Labor costs are correctly identified as a large factor chasing manufacturing companies abroad. But that is only one of the smaller factors and not a determinant for the exodus. Japanese car companies as well as Mercedes and BMW build plants just down the street from Ford! Our labor costs do not force them to leave! Our labor costs will, as they should, remain higher but the problem can be improved by addressing the other causes which are largely regulatory and financial.

College graduates have jobs; they are not the big problem. The larger issue is employment for the person with the average level of schooling; that would be manufacturing and agriculture. Both which would raise the service industry (like all the other JFK boats).

The US could be a net exporter of energy and food. I would remind environmentalists that it is the burning of fossile fuels, not the pumping of oil that pollutes the air. We are throwing out the baby with the bathwater. I read that religeon is on the decline but I don’t agree. Man has always insisted on a religeon, inventing them as needed. Leaving church to worship a cause is little change.

People who follow the “horses” know that when an entry is carrying less weight (jockey and saddle) the commission loads that horse up with some lead weights.
Handicapping our own horse for fairness sake is no way to win! And we need to start winning, or at least cut our losses.

It is not people outside our borders killing our golden goose. Walt Kellys “Pogo recognized them: “We have met the enemy and he is us”! Us is in 51 Capitols; States and DC!

Posted by PhillupSpace | Report as abusive
 

It seems that Reuters didn’t appreciate my inclusion of a link in my comment. I tried to make it easier. You’ll just have to search for yourself: Historical non-farm payroll data is available on the Bureau of Labor Statistics site (BLS) .gov – look at the Tables from Employment and Earnings (Historical) B-1.

Through it, you can see that the preliminary numbers show that 2011 payrolls were about that of 2004. Compound this overall national loss of income with the population growth rate (no, I did not do the calculation) over the past seven years, and the US has certainly dropped considerably in per capita income.

“Goods producing” payrolls have dropped to a level below that when the data was first recorded in 1962. Certainly, the service sector has been growing while the manufacturing sector stagnated, then began to recede over the past three decades. However, there was about a 15% drop in 2009/10 that they haven’t recovered from.

Who *is* making money? Well, that would be the “Education and Health Services” segment. They’re rolling along quite well, thank you.

On a personal note about some of those “middle class” comments: I was an up-and-coming middle class member. After growing up in poverty (food stamps, donated Xmas gifts as a child, foster care), I worked my way into bleeding edge high tech and was touch and go with the $100K mark for a couple of years. Now, no matter what I apply for, I am “overqualified”. Either that, or I don’t have the *required* education for a position. Funny thing is, it never seemed to make any sense to pay tens of thousands of dollars to receive a degree from an institution on a subject that I had ALREADY BEEN TEACHING FOR A FULL DECADE.

The US education system needs a full re-vamping. It is pathetically behind the times and overpriced for the little it does produce. Sure, there are some good schools and avenues of study, but, overall, the system is severely lacking. We need to graduate high school students who can read, write, calculate and analyze. We need college educations to be more than a review of what should have been covered at the high school level. We need more cutting edge research in a wide range of fields – and we need it to be accessible to everyone.

If we continue to let our best and brightest of the next generations languish at all of these nonproductive service and retail jobs, then we deserve to fade into the mediocrity that we are currently destined for.

Enough of this. I’m going back to my job hunt. Somewhere, someone will hire me for a livable wage. In 2011, I earned less than I did 25 years ago when I started out: under $12K. I’ll be applying for welfare next week. After selling everything I owned piece by piece to make ends meet, I’ve lost the 3 year fight to avoid that demeaning experience.

Posted by Bicyclette | Report as abusive
 

Sheep’s comments are amusing. Vilify the unions and then give perfect examples of why there should be unions..

Posted by BakoD | Report as abusive
 

@BakoD

“Since 2001, the Detroit Three have slashed over 200,000 jobs, eliminating more than 60 percent of their hourly work force. In the same period, Japanese, South Korean and German automakers have opened eight assembly plants in the United States, creating almost 20,000 factory jobs.”

I guess the union did those 200,000 UAW members a lot of good.

Unions are out-dated. Federal and State employment laws give adequate protection to employees. Unions only make Americans unable to compete on the global labor market.

But I wouldn’t expect a sheep of an utopian fantasy that can only exist in academia to understand. Which isn’t amusing since it affects the survival our nation’s standard-of-living.

Posted by 1stMartain | Report as abusive
 

While income disparity is the most glaring problem in America, there is very little that we can do to solve this flaw in the short term. Why? Because our high school graduation rates rank in the bottom third of all industrial countries.

Meanwhile, politicians of both parties attempted to solve this serious problem by encouraging home ownership, whether or not homeowners can afford the payments of not. They even forced the FHA and the GSEs into poor and even shady practices. And as with so many well-intended government interventions, unintended consequences abounded: Liar Loans, NINJA (No Income, No Jobs, No Assets) loans, cheaper construction, Adjustable Rate Loans, Inflated Appraisals, Shoddy Credit and Bookkeeping, Inaccurate Packaging of Loans in the Derivative Markets, Outright Fraud by many Brokers, Servicers & Financial institutions, and Totally Unregulated Financial Derivatives Markets.

In effect, we had a Perfect Storm. So when it really hit the fan, our politicians once again played their typical game: The Blame Game. The truth, however, is that almost everyone shares significant concurrent responsibility: Mortgage Applicants, Appraisers, Brokers, Servicers, Financial Institutions, Regulators, and even the most privileged class in America: Congress.

Posted by neilc23 | Report as abusive
 

I have to chuckle when I read folks complaining about outsourced jobs while these same people are making ‘bang for the buck’ decisions as consumers.  Connect the dots people!  Your decisions as consumers are pushing companies to do the very thing you complain about. As consumers, we tend to reward those companies that offer the best ‘bang for the buck’ with our business.  As investors we demand that companies grow sales and cut costs.  As all this is happening, we complain about the behavior of ‘ruthless’ companies.  Just silly!

Posted by jambrytay | Report as abusive
 

A good article. But with 7 billion people on this planet and growing, I was led to one sad conclusion: If things are getting worse for first world peoples who are finding their value as labor decreasing, what happens to the billions of third world peoples who have no value at all as labor (industrialization and automation have eliminated almost all work which gave individual labor value… We have been so successful as a species, that we have produced an excess of population that has no function and really no use except to consume what others make…But having no value as labor, they have nothing of value to trade for the goods they wish to consume….To me the conclusion is foregone: The more people on this planet, the less worth living life is for any of them but the very very few who control the wealth…Unless living like a cow in a pen waiting for slaughter is living.

Posted by 123Infinity | Report as abusive
 

We need to perhaps look a bit more closely at which kinds of jobs we are speaking about. When we often cite job losses and talk about getting Americans more job opportunities but we need to recognize that not all the opportunities available are necessarily long term jobs nor would they be high paying rather they can be used as a bridge to find employment in other areas while also having a source of sustainable income (http://eng.am/sTx56V). Though some positions that are being created are temporary it is better to have some jobs created than none at all isn’t it?

Posted by FlorianSchach | Report as abusive
 

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