Jobs Numbers Up, Prospects for American Workers Still Down

Comments

1
Please, make us your targeted demographic. Labor coverage here has always been piss-poor, and we are rather suggestible. Go for it!
2
I just found out that I will probably not have my (white-collar) job two weeks from now. At least it's Friday.
3
Funny, I was thinking today that no one at the Stranger seems very interested in blue-collar work or blue collar workers.
4
The times, they are a changing. If we can build a robot to replace a human in a menial job like bolting a car together in an assembly line, is that a bad thing? It frees up that worker to do something more productive with his life. Although sadly we're not supporting the education he might need to make that happen.

Improvements in technology are outpacing education, that's my take.
5
Oh, care bear. I'm so sorry to hear that.
6
Goldy, I agree that capital has been trying to beat down unions including in the manufacturing sector. However, even though employment in manufacturing has fallen so much and this hurts blue collar workers, the manufacturing sector is actually very healthy. I don't often appreciate CATO pieces but this one is interesting: http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/why-i-am-…

I'm for government investment in workers who can no longer find manufacturing jobs: re-training, job placement, education, health coverage, etc. But the reduction in jobs is a result of much greater forces of globalization that actually have great benefits to the economy. Let's take care of those people, but let's not pretend we can turn back the clock on advancements in manufacturing technology that make those jobs irrelevant. "Made in America" and other populist slogans are hollow rhetoric; a serious solution takes global economic forces into consideration.

What do you think? I know this is slightly tangential to your post.
7
@2

Damn, I'm really sorry to hear that. At the height of the downturn, I got the news on a Thursday and then they asked me to come in on Friday and pretend like nothing had happened. It's a punch in the gut. For the little it offers in solace, I am seeing a few friends who have faced a year or more of unemployment start to get hired. Good luck, wherever you are.
8
A a card-carrying union member, and an employee of a union, I think I can safely say that we're not exactly being burdened with an overload of labor news these days - either on SLOG or anywhere else for that matter.

Keep it coming Goldy...
9
@4,

It frees up some workers to do other things, but it also makes the workers who remain that much more indispensable since those machines require skilled and educated workers to handle them.
10
@4 I doubt if many of the laborers losing their jobs are pumped about the possibility of doing something "more productive," especially those who have worked in the same factory for 20+ years.
11
These jobs are not being lost to the evil machinations of capital or neoliberalism or Republicans or NAFTA or "overseas"; they're being lost to reality. Complaining about the loss of traditional factory jobs is exactly like complaining about the loss of blacksmith and buggy-whip-making jobs. Those jobs are gone forever. You can pine for 1950, or you can participate in the future.

This is essentially the Tea Party argument -- "things were better in the old days, whenever that was; the future holds nothing for people like me". It's emotionally resonant but incoherent and sentimental.
12
#4

Improvements in technology are outpacing education, that's my take.


good insight.
14
#11 Uh, no, manufacturing jobs are being/have been lost to overseas workers in REALITY. People buy more stuff than ever, and there are millions of people manufacturing that stuff--just not here anymore. Blacksmiths? What on earth are you talking about?
15
11, Isn't it a little disingenous to pretend that what happens in a capitalistic system has nothing to do with capital? How is the "reality" of what you're talking about separate from what constitutes that reality?

Realizing there is no going back, and no point in going back, and that a lot of these jobs suck(ed), can actually be separated from a sympathetic response to people who are losing their jobs.
16
Goldy -- It's great that you are writing about labor issues on here. It's about time somebody did! (The alleged Marxist they have on staff would rather write about tits than labor). It's the backbone of liberalism, and frankly far more so than the social issues that get played to death here.

So can a worker at the Stranger buy a home, raise a kid, save for retirement, etc.? What are the benefits?
17
Not to worry, Sen. Carl Levin says we should send More Troops and More Gold to Afghanistan to expand the British Empire!

Rally around the Union Jack, Boys!

We can whip those Afghanis!
18
@14,

He's talking about the fact that people have been losing jobs that have become obsolete since the beginning of civilization. It sucks for those individuals, but we're better off in the long run. Had anyone listened to the Luddites 200 years ago, all but a vanishingly small number of the population would be living in third world conditions.
19
Queen of Middle Class ready to throw them out the door!

[Arianna] Huffington said the plan is to put old grizzled journalists with young kids out of college.


http://www.zdnet.com/blog/btl/aol-tim-ar…
20
#18 And my point was that those jobs aren't obsolete. This has absolutely nothing to do with manufacturing jobs becoming obsolete. Workers are still manufacturing refrigerators and cars and sneakers just like they were in 1950. Except instead of those jobs being domestic and union and well-paid and having decent working conditions, they are overseas and underpaid and often in terrible conditions.
21
I learned to read a graph from global warming "skeptics," and that's how I no that a slight uptick at the right end of that graph proves categorically that job loss never happened at all. It's an alarmist hoax!
22
Thank you, Gus and justicekid.
23
Fnarf is half-right, but he's ignoring the complexities of the situation. Technological change and the globalization of wealth are inevitable and good things. However, that doesn't mean that offshoring is always a good idea--look at Boeing's woes since it shifted large parts of its manufacturing overseas. The real test is whether those who lose their jobs have an opportunity to get new jobs that provide a similar quality of life--not in every case, but in aggregate.

That's simply not happening. The people who are losing their jobs most often don't get comparable jobs. They simply exit the middle class, or the middle class is defined downwards. That failure is driving inequality in this country, and that inequality is at the base of our current economic problems.

Preserving jobs that are no longer technologically or economically viable is not the best approach. But we need to change how social insurance and employment work in this country so that people aren't abandoned by changing times and middle class prosperity increases rather than shrinks. Increased unionization is desperately needed, although it would be good to make sure that those unions embrace techological change and retraining as a way to keep people employed in meaningful and well-paying work rather than trying to keep things from changing. Given that people don't stay in the same industry or at least with the same employer as long, worker benefits have to cross employers and industries somehow. Social insurance has to move to help out workers in transition with retraining and income support rather than focus entirely on retirement, disability, and short-term unemployment within the same industry. Our social insurance model was developed during the New Deal and it shows.

What we need is a 21st century New Deal, rather than either protection of an obsolete style of work or the regurgitation of free trade slogans that are just as obsolete.
24
@20,

So you would enjoy paying $60 for a simple, cotton t-shirt? Good for you.

That would kill our economy by the way.

Also, what Cascadian said.
25
@24, I'd gladly pay a lot more for things if the alternative is enslaving the rest of the world. The fact is that a world which shares the quality of life and liberties we enjoy is not profitable for us. What would Americans do in a world where all people were truly created equal?
26
#24 First of all, what #25 said. Our economy is utterly immoral. Secondly, it is a myth that companies need sweatshop labor in order to keep goods affordable.
27
Goldy, as a union member I appreciate your coverage of labor issues. It is important to educate everyone about the importance and relevance of the Labor Movement in their daily lives. When someone says that we don't need unions anymore, I just tell them to go to Mississippi (a right to work for less state) and see what a weak union state is like.

You are quite right, that the beating down of workers in one segment of the economy usually overflows to other segments of the economy. We have a saying in the Labor Movement, that originated with the IWW, "An injury to one is an injury to all", and I've seen that saying manifested many times during my working life.

I feel lucky to be in a trade that isn't doing too badly during this shitty economy. The middle managers in my trade hope and pray that the unions that represent the employees they supervise negotiate a good contract, because management's pay piggy backs on what we negotiate. A rising tide lifts all boats.
28
@24:

You can buy organic cotton t-shirts made in the USA for $12 today; why would I pay $60 for something I can already get for 1/5 the price?
29
What we need to do is move away from quantity and add some quality back into our lives. Instead of buying throwaway consumer products, spend a little more and buy a higher quality craftsman made product. Instead of a large McMansion slapped together with cheap materials, buy a smaller house customized to your needs, built by craftsmen.
30
Think how many more jobs there would be if we broke up some of the major oligopolies in this country. Most of them were put together for the savings from efficiencies; i.e., fewer employees, and we have suffered for it. That money now goes to bonuses for upper management. Remember when radio stations actually had local employees?
31
This is not analysis. This is pandering. Shame on the Stranger for indulging in the mindless claptrap it so deftly criticizes the GOP for.
32
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