Friday, September 7, 2018

"Job Friday" Highlights The Role Of Jobs In The Economy

The first Friday of each month is typically the day when the BLS releases its latest jobs report that is watched closely by economists and investors. The report is seen as a key indicator of whether the American economy is on track and where it is headed. Within the numbers are subtle reminders that Americans don't just want jobs, they want "good jobs" and this means full-time work that pays well and has benefits. Today few occupations are totally secure from the wave of labor-saving technology currently in the pipeline. This means it is the job of those we have sent to Washington to create or paint a vision that shows how America can integrate labor-saving devices into a job-creating bonanza or at least an economy that is sustainable going forward.

Amazon Moving Rapidly To A Robot Work Force
Many Americans feel Washington has failed in some way or another to protect jobs. For decades policies have allowed or even encouraged manufacturing jobs to leave the country. Recent reports make it increasingly clear that automation is not going away and minimum wage policies only accelerate and drive the trend of replacing expensive human workers with robots. Amazon the behemoth retailer known for cutting prices and exploiting brick and mortar retailers often boast of its cost-saving move to utilize more robots and cut human jobs. The fact that last year more than 7,000 stores closed their doors, more than twice the amount of stores that opened in the same time period is not a reassuring sign.

Several new technologies headed in our direction scream more economic disruption ahead. One writer I follow has pointed out on more than one occasion how self-driving vehicles is a game changer. Self-driving semi rigs able to safely maneuver and fill the nations interstate highways during the night when traffic is light will reduce daytime congestion but also greatly reduce the number of people paid to drive these vehicles, this is a major occupation that pays relatively well. The ramifications of self-driving vehicles will extend into areas such as taxi jobs and potentially change the relationship most American's have with their automobile a mainstay of modern life in this country. Imagine not having to own a car or reducing the number of automobiles in your family because a safe and secure ride is available at the push of a button.
The fact is in my area while we continue to hear about unemployment at sixteen-year lows many people remain underemployed and are struggling. The average American has good reason to worry not only about their job but the future opportunities available for their children. Let me make it clear, robots taking our jobs will bode poorly for the huge majority of society. The idea that those ultimately left with the decision as to how to divide the economic pie will be generous or fair is a little naive. History shows the ruling class tends to tilt the rules in their favor. Soaring economic inequality is already a major issue and the divide is most likely going to grow ever wider. When it is pointed out that entitlements are about to explode the deficit in coming years logic dictates the nation can no longer delay addressing this issue. While very important to voters creating good quality sustainable jobs is an area where Washington has failed to excel. 

Is A Robot Coming For Your Job?
Without jobs a glimpse into the future becomes very grim. The fear of being replaced by a robot or seeing your job being outsourced or eliminated is on the rise. Rest assured when push comes to shove those displaced from the job market are only able to scrape by will find they are only given enough to ensure they remain docile and behave. If it ever comes to the point where these people hit the streets in angry protest it is very likely they will be beaten into submission for the greater good, possibly by robots given the task to restore civil order. It should be pointed out that going forward those on the government dole or a guaranteed income may find they are at the mercy of a system where at any time benefits are canceled or cut.

Tied into Trump's solution to create new jobs and energize America's economy is the strong message that we must demand from other nations fairer trade policies that level the playing field. We cannot compete when other nations pay their workers little, degrade the environment, and often subsidize exports in various ways. This is a stand Trump shares with Bernie Sanders.  Like many backseat political strategist, I have grown weary of politicians failing to fulfill their promises or for that matter accomplishing much of anything. Even while we are told unemployment is at a sixteen year low and we hear companies are clamoring for workers something is definitely wrong and a series of polls indicate that a focus on job creation and the economy is where the attention of those in Washington should be.

After facing decades of stagnating or falling wages after adjusting for inflation it is little wonder why the average American feels insecure or downright betrayed. This was why many people voted for Trump, as a businessman they hoped he would have a strong real-life advantage over politicians in understanding how to create jobs. To be great a country must be economically strong. The key to any policy geared to creating jobs is getting the foot of government off the neck of small business. This means reducing the regulations strangling the nations most vibrant creator of jobs and where workers gain valuable work skills is a must. Tax reform and laws governing business must reduce the advantages mere size gives big business and its ability to destroy competition by mass alone. As it is big business will benefit most by adopting more automation and robot workers and this could bode very poorly for most workers and society in general.

1 comment:

  1. Hello Bruce! thanks so much for the great commentary. I realized that I had read your blog a number of years ago. I have escaped the United States exactly for these reasons, and I am now a naturalized citizen of Ecuador. I am also a scientist with a PhD that was basically left to starve in the streets. Damn right I do not trust the system, much less the fat cats that run it. If the United States cannot maintain its best and brightest, it deserves what it's going to get. Thanks for the great work.