johnmac's rants

Friday, November 06, 2009

Have We Lost Common Sense When We Talk About Job Loss?

The most recent unemployment figures show over 10% unemployment. While analysts bemoan this high rate, they find solace in the fact that the number of “new unemploys” has slowed. They see this as an evidence of a turn around, albeit a slow one, They further point out that a decrease in unemployment always trails other indicators in a recovery.

Flash – one of the reasons that less people were laid off is that many employers have already laid off as many folks as they can. The latest layoffs were either incremental or the result of new business mergers or failures.

A more important point is that many of these jobs are NEVER coming back, no matter how robust the economy becomes. Technology eliminates jobs forever every day. Every bill paid on-line means that an envelope is not opened, checks are not batched for deposit, and data is not entered by an employee into an accounts receivable system. Every book downloaded in a Kindle, Nook or other e-book reader means one less book being printed, shipped, and sold through a retail store. Any item purchased online eliminates steps in the retail process and, as the percentage of goods purchased on-line, jobs are lost.

Further, the persons losing these jobs are neither academically nor, perhaps, intellectually prepared for the jobs that are in-demand in the new global economy – electric engineers, systems engineers, scientists, monetary experts – jobs for which the Chinese are preparing hundreds of thousands.

In short, no matter how rapidly the economy responds, the prospect for job recovery is dismal. A radical re-definition of work may be called for – one in which public service, presently accomplished through volunteerism (such as Little League coaching, Girl Scout troop management, etc.), becomes taxpayer funded. Whatever the necessary changers, anything radical will be foreign to many of us and, therefore, threatening to many.

We must be prepared to accept radical changes; more importantly, we must be looking for whatever alternatives can be found to our present employment situation.


  • From the New York Times --
    Broader Measure of Unemployment Stands at 17.5%

    By Blogger johnmac, at 5:43 AM  

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