Christmas came early for my daughter this year. After almost two years of waiting tables with her almost-masters degree, she finally landed a good job in her profession. So we know all about the problems that the globalization-induced recession and the deindustrialization of America are creating in keeping Americans from finding jobs that will permit us to maintain and improve our standard of living.
Her job hunt ended in October, about the time news was breaking that September's job market figures showed signs of revival for the first time since January. The uptick prompted a government report to suggest that the recovery (I didn't even know we were in one) might be powerful enough to help the unemployed find work and the underemployed improve their earning power.
Don't bet on it! The biggest gains were reported by the lower-paying retailers and temporary-help agencies; the better paying manufacturing sector again lost jobs--29,000 of them. The bottom line: average weekly earnings for rank-and-file workers fell for the first time since April by 33 cents to $520.67; the number of people out of work for at least 27 weeks jumped in August from 1.9 million to 2.1 million. And that's only the people we know about who are registered as still looking for work!
Since 2001, the economy has lost some 2.8 million jobs, many of them not recession-caused, but rather structurally caused by the globalization of our economy. These jobs will never return because U.S. manufacturers are moving factories to low-cost overseas locations just to survive because lean manufacturing factories use more productive equipment and processes that require fewer workers.
Help on the way?
The travesty is that our Washington politicians have ignored the structural changes our economy is going through. But that may be changing.
George Voinovich, Republican U.S. Senator from Ohio is one politician who has been prompting the Administration and his fellow legislators to act. He admits there has been a nonchalance about the problems that the manufacturing sector faces as it wrestles with globalization of the economy. "I can tell you there was, but now there is not," he told me in an interview on the subject. Last June, he introduced a bill to create the position of Assistant Secretary of Manufacturing in the Commerce Dept.
On Sept. 1, the President did just that. As of this writing, the job has not been filled. Just how effective it will be depends upon the ultimate job...