A Look to the Future
Recent decades’ data show trends about America’s goods-producing sectors that are not healthy and which the governing class refuses to recognize as cause-and-effect based. This is mostly due, in my view, to approaches that stress class-warfare, anti-business regulation and big deficit-spending policies enacted by Congress during the few years of the current Administration. The percent of employed labor in goods producing, per the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, has steadily declined (measured in June of each year) from 36.1% in 1965 to 22.4% in 1988, 19% in 2000, 14.3% in 2009 and 12.9% in 2011.
Since June 2000, 7,694 million (M) U.S. jobs have been eliminated with only 3,840 M in durable-goods production – only 49.91% of the total. From June 2000 through June 2011, goods-production employment is the only sector that has declined in the U.S. economy while increases occurred in all others, including: leisure and hospitality, utilities, health services, transportation, wholesale trade and government, which showed the largest numeric growth of all sectors.
These are distressing facts, but why and what to do about it are more relevant questions regarding this worsening condition. A 2005 study by Citigroup analysts is cogently correct in citing the “plutonomy” issue – the U.S. rich, the rest and the verses that politicians articulate so often when trying to polarize class warfare. But there is much more than economic stratification as a societal driver.
Equity markets and housing values have been volatile since 2007, so the current recession has pressed harder on the middle and lower classes of society. One in 12 non-manufacturing jobs has vanished; one in six blue-collar jobs in production, craft, repair and machine operations vanished in the past three years. There has been rising pay at the top and falling wages among less-educated workers. The stable 17 to 19 M people employed in industry from 1960 to 2000 shrank to make the U.S. the number-two manufacturer and third agricultural nation on the planet in 2010. A look at demographics tells us why: 22-29% of all U.S. jobs will, or has the potential to, move overseas in the next two decades as both trade balances and technology will substitute foreign for U.S. workers. The biggest blow will be to those with inadequate job training and education.
This is not an argument for more college graduates, which make up only 30% of the U.S. population, but for greatly enhanced education at every level. Family dysfunction is a primary indicator of this job problem. Among less-educated women, 44% of births occur outside of marriage and 54% occur among high-school dropouts. However, only 6% of college-educated women available for work had no job or children with no job. America cannot prosper with an unprepared labor pool of feral children with no means to learn the roads to success.
Our national job problems are directly related to the existence of flash mobs of undisciplined young people stealing and destroying urban shopping malls. It is an urgent national need that family guidance, installing value systems in children and instilling personal responsibility become a national priority in order to correct the nation’s economic issues. Indeed, recovery from this recession is in large part a matter of changing the life path of the workforce and not endorsing and continuing the failed education systems that cannot ensure or foster the American dream.
I contend that the solution to our economic recovery and to the resurgence of manufacturing authority on the world stage mostly requires a cultural realignment. America will do very well, thank you very much, if it is allowed to return to the principles that built the greatest civilization that has yet passed across the face of this Earth. IH