The Fruits of Civilization (61-1) Employment continued 2


In the span of a few decades, US industry shrunk by half. Industrial production in 2015 was only 17% of American GDP, compared to 26% in Europe, with Germany as the continent’s primary contributor.

As of 2015, an extensive survey showed that the US does not lack for skilled manufacturing workers, despite employers long decrying a mythical “skills gap;” but skills erode without employment. France is exemplary.

France had high unemployment for well over a decade. As its economy picked up in 2017, businesses could not fill openings because of a skills shortage in the labor supply.

That is not to say that the American labor pool is well-tooled intellectually. The quality of American public education is lamentable.

Inadequate education is a major problem. ~ American economist Jonathan Rothwell

The quality of the US labor supply is not an issue of immigration: 2/3rds of low-skilled Americans were native born.

The human capital base in the United States is quite thin: the US has mediocre labor assets. ~ German statistician Andreas Schleicher

That said, well-educated people have troubled finding jobs commensurate with their education. In 2016, nearly half of US college graduates were working at jobs which required only a high-school diploma.

Regardless of formal education, employers themselves create a skills gap by not training workers. Apprentice and management-training programs have disappeared from the American corporate landscape. There are plenty of workers able to fill all the empty job positions, if only employers were themselves savvy enough to fashion programs that reward labor with some instruction as well as decent pay.

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Once upon a time, economic recovery led to expanded employment of the United States population. Not anymore. The percentage of adults employed has declined sharply during the last 2 recessions and failed to increase much in their aftermath. ~ American economist Nancy Folbre

In the short term, offshoring unlinks economic growth from domestic job creation. US firms can meet rising American demand through imports, with scant need to add more domestic workers. Imports rise, but not employment.

In the longer term, offshoring saps the prospect of economic growth. 70% of the US economy is driven by consumer expenditures. Employment fuels consumption, which drives the economic engine.

Fewer jobs spells less consumption. Growth peters out.

Thanks to destructive outsourcing and faltering investment in research, the US has lost or is on the verge of losing its ability to develop and manufacture a slew of high-tech products. ~ Gary Pisano & Willy Shih in 2009