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July 27, 2010

Where Will Our Children Work?

So many jobs have been off-shored or automated that our unemployment rate just can’t seem to return to a reasonable level. People are having a hard time finding even basic jobs like working behind fast food counters. While congressional members fight over extending unemployment, more and more people find themselves applying for it for the first time in their lives.

It would be nice to think that all these problems will be solved by the time our children are old enough to work. But our current economic woes are caused by problems that are not quickly resolvable.

For example, our economy has always been based on labor intensive industries. For many years it was agriculturally based, but advances in farming have made it easy for one person to grow enough food for many people. So a country that once saw the majority of its citizens at work on farms now sees only 2% employed on farms.

Then the industrial revolution helped manufacturing take over as the economic engine of our country. For many years it was the basis of our booming economy. But now we’ve off-shored so many jobs that entire manufacturing industries have shrunk.

We’ve been told that we now have a service economy. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours. Great, but one of us better have something both of us can eat, because service jobs don’t pay very much.

Some believe that technology will be the next driver or our economy. That’s a nice thought, but one of the hallmarks of the tech age is that fewer people are needed to do the work involved because computers now do what people used to do. Charles Hugh Smith points out that Facebook only employs 1200 people, while Twitter needs a mere 150 to run its operations. Not too promising in terms of job growth, is it?

With any luck at all, some new industry will arise that will provide job opportunities for our children. Until then, how do we prepare our children for the future? Stay tuned.

1 comment:

Carol J. Alexander said...

Scary thoughts.
My husband just had a series of training meetings with his job and was told that with a dire shortage of appliance repairmen, current ones are making 80,000+ a year.
Not bad for a service job. :)
You can bet we put that bug in our son's ear.