Tag Archives: jobs

Another Way EVs Will Cost Us, by Eric Peters

Electric car production will probably cost a lot of auto workers their jobs. From Eric Peters at ericpetersautos.com:

Lost in the fatuous fake news juggernaut about the supposed misdeeds of the relentlessly besieged Orange Man has been real – and important news – about the longest nationwide strike by autoworkers in almost 50 years.

The target of the strike is General Motors. The United Auto Workers haven’t been working since September 16. Almost all GM plants have been idled since then, with the exception of the truck plant in Silao, Mexico. But a shortage of parts caused by the idling of the plants north of the border will almost certainly cause the truck plant to go silent soon, too.

The closures are costing GM about $25 million per day in lost profit, according to analysts.

But they could cost autoworkers – and us – much more.

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More Money, Fewer Jobs The Stubborn Truth About Employment and the Defense Industry, by Nia Harris, Cassandra Stimpson, and Ben Freeman

Defense spending doesn’t really create jobs, so we’ll have to find another lie to justify the enormous sums wasted on the military-intelligence-industrial complex. From Nia Harris, Cassandra Stimpson, and Ben Freeman at tomdispatch.com:

A Marilyn has once again seduced a president. This time, though, it’s not a movie star; it’s Marillyn Hewson, the head of Lockheed Martin, the nation’s top defense contractor and the largest weapons producer in the world. In the last month, Donald Trump and Hewson have seemed inseparable. They “saved” jobs at a helicopter plant. They took the stage together at a Lockheed subsidiary in Milwaukee. The president vetoed three bills that would have blocked the arms sales of Lockheed (and other companies) to Saudi Arabia. Recently, the president’s daughter Ivanka even toured a Lockheed space facility with Hewson.

On July 15th, the official White House Twitter account tweeted a video of the Lockheed CEO extolling the virtues of the company’s THAAD missile defense system, claiming that it “supports 25,000 American workers.” Not only was Hewson promoting her company’s product, but she was making her pitch — with the weapon in the background — on the White House lawn. Twitter immediately burst with outrage over the White House posting an ad for a private company, with some calling it “unethical” and “likely unlawful.”

None of this, however, was really out of the ordinary as the Trump administration has stopped at nothing to push the argument that job creation is justification enough for supporting weapons manufacturers to the hilt. Even before Donald Trump was sworn in as president, he was already insisting that military spending was a great jobs creator. He’s only doubled down on this assertion during his presidency. Recently, overriding congressional objections, he even declared a national “emergency” to force through part of an arms sale to Saudi Arabia that he had once claimed would create more than a million jobs. While this claim has been thoroughly debunked, the most essential part of his argument — that more money flowing to defense contractors will create significant numbers of new jobs — is considered truth personified by many in the defense industry, especially Marillyn Hewson.

The facts tell a different story.

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Our Fragmented Labor Markets Defy Outdated Conventions, by Charles Hugh Smith

This is not your father’s labor market. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

There are hundreds of extraordinarily diverse labor markets in the U.S. economy, and it takes a much more granulated approach to make any sense of this highly fragmented and dynamic marketplace.
Conventional economists/media pundits typically view the labor market as monolithic, i.e. as one unified market. The reality is the labor market is highly fragmented. Thus it’s little wonder that conventional measures are giving mixed signals on employment, wage inflation, etc.
Here is a typical chart of the labor market: the annual rate of change in hourly earnings, going back to the late 1960s. I’ve annotated the chart to show that hourly earning rose sharply in the inflationary 1970s, but since then have only popped higher in asset bubbles–the dot-com era and the housing bubble:
Gneralized measures that lump all wage earners together give us a snapshot of trends, but they fail to describe the realities of today’s labor markets. The reality is much more complex, and thus beyond the outdated conventions that divide the labor force into broad sectors:
1. While most workers are receiving little in the way of wage increases, employers’ total compensation costs are soaring due to skyrocketing healthcare premiums and other labor-overhead costs such as workers compensation.
Economists puzzled by the lack of wage inflation in an era of “full employment” should look at total compensation costs instead of wages: the inflation is in the labor-overhead costs, not employee compensation.
2. Regions dominated by a handful of employers do not offer many opportunities for employees to jump to other employers for higher pay. This lack of competition enables dominant employers to suppress wage growth.
3. Scarcities of skills and experience that drive wages higher tend to be sector-specific and are often localized. Across the broad spectrum of basic skills and experience (for example, white-collar work performed by employees with non-technical college diplomas), there are few scarcities that could push wages higher.
4. Regardless of labor availability/scarcity, many small-business employers can’t afford to pay higher wages, given their soaring labor-overhead expenses. If wages rise, their options include selling out, closing down, or doing more of the work themselves. Paying higher wages will simply guarantee monthly losses. If you’re losing money operating an enterprise, why be in business?

Will Automation Kill Our Jobs? by Walter E. Williams

Technology has almost always created more jobs than it destroys, and there’s not reason to think that trend won’t continue. From Walter E. Williams at lewrockwell.com:

A recent article in The Guardian dons the foreboding title “Robots will destroy our jobs — and we’re not ready for it.” The article claims, “For every job created by robotic automation, several more will be eliminated entirely. … This disruption will have a devastating impact on our workforce.” According to an article in MIT Technology Review, business researchers Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee believe that rapid technological change has been destroying jobs faster than it is creating them, contributing to the stagnation of median income and the growth of inequality in the United States.

If technology is destroying jobs faster than it’s creating them, it is the first time in human history that it’s done so. Actually, the number of jobs is unlimited, for the simple reason that human wants are unlimited — or they don’t frequently reveal their bounds. People always want more of something that will create a job for someone. To suggest that there are a finite number of jobs commits an error known as the “lump of labor fallacy.” That fallacy suggests that when automation or technology eliminates a job, there’s nothing that people want that would create employment for the person displaced by the automation. In other words, all human wants have been satisfied.

Let’s look at a few examples. In 1790, farmers were 90 percent of the U.S. labor force. By 1900, only about 41 percent of our workers were employed in agriculture. Today less than 3 percent of Americans are employed in agriculture. And it’s a good thing. If 90 percent or 41 percent of our labor force were still employed in agriculture, where in the world would we find the workforce to produce all those goods and services that weren’t around in 1790 or 1900, such as cars, aircraft, TVs, computers, aircraft carriers, etc.? Indeed, if technology had not destroyed all of those agricultural jobs, we would be a much, much poorer nation.

To continue reading: Will Automation Kill Our Jobs?

Manufacturing Companies Struggle To Recruit Workers For High-Paying Management Jobs, by Tyler Durden

There are jobs out there for those who know things that are useful to employers. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Americans who are hoping to avoid the shackles of student debt and proceed straight from high school into the workforce have more options for well-paid gainful employment than they might think. Even as the ROI on college degrees continues to decline, employers in certain blue-collar industries are struggling to fill management jobs that pay as much, or more, than jobs that require a college degree.

One such employer, 84 Lumber Co, is spending millions on advertising to spread its message that a management-track job at one of its stores can be more valuable than a college degree. The company pays trainees $40,000 a year, but employees in charge of top-grossing stores can earn as much as $200,000 a year. And some of those stores, managers earn more than $1 million. All without paying $60,000 a year in tuition to double major in art history and women’s studies, according to Bloomberg.

And 84 Lumber is hardly alone in it recruiting push: Associated General Contractors of Colorado is spending $2 million on recruiting and apprenticeships. Carpentry Contractors Co. in Minnesota hired a comedian to star in recruiting videos that have racked up a quarter-million views on YouTube.

One trainee quoted by Bloomberg was supposed to be the first person in his family to graduate from college, but he dropped out of Kent State and took a job at 84 Lumber instead. When asked why he left, he said he believes the experience of his management-training job with 84 Lumber is more valuable than that conferred by a college degree.

“Sabastian Kleis, the son of a waitress from Rust Belt Ohio, was supposed to be the first person in his family to graduate from college. Instead, he dropped out of Kent State University after two years. By most accounts, Kleis, 24, should be flipping burgers. But on a recent afternoon a lumber company was grooming him for a management job

“You can go to college and learn the theology of the Roman Empire,” says Kleis, who just completed a three-day training program at 84 Lumber’s rural Pennsylvania headquarters. “You learn all this ridiculous nonsense, and when you get out, what are you applying that to? I know how to frame a house.”

To continue reading: Manufacturing Companies Struggle To Recruit Workers For High-Paying Management Jobs

More Solar Jobs Is a Curse, Not a Blessing, by Paul Dreissen

By the logic of cheerleaders for solar jobs, it would be a great thing if 100,000 dug a hole, and a tragedy if 100 engineers design and produce a high-end microchip. When studying jobs, the benchmark is what gets produced by how many people, or productivity, not how many people are employed. From Paul Dreissen at mises.org:

Citing U.S. Department of Energy data, the New York Times recently reported that the solar industry employs far more Americans than wind or coal: 374,000 in solar versus 100,000 in wind and 160,000 in coal mining and coal-fired power generation. Only the natural gas sector employs more people: 398,000 workers in gas production, electricity generation, home heating and petrochemicals.

This is supposed to be a good thing, according to the Times. It shows how important solar power has become in taking people out of unemployment lines and giving them productive jobs, the paper suggests.

Indeed, the article notes, California had the highest rate of solar power jobs per capita in 2016, thanks to its “robust renewable energy standards and installation incentives” (ie, mandates and subsidies).

In reality, it’s not a good thing at all, and certainly not a positive trend. In fact, as Climate Depot and the Washington Examiner point out — citing an American Enterprise Institute study — the job numbers actually underscore how wasteful, inefficient and unproductive solar power actually is.

That is glaringly obvious when you look at the amounts of energy produced per sector. (This tally does not include electricity generated by nuclear, hydroelectric and geothermal power plants.)

  • 398,000 natural gas workers = 33.8% of all electricity generated in the United States in 2016
  • 160,000 coal employees = 30.4 % of total electricity
  • 100,000 wind employees = 5.6% of total electricity
  • 374,000 solar workers = 0.9% of total electricity

It’s even more glaring when you look at the amount of electricity generated per worker. Coal generated an incredible 7,745 megawatt-hours of electricity per worker; natural gas 3,812 MWH per worker; wind a measly 836 MWH for every employee; and solar an abysmal 98 MWH per worker.

To continue reading: More Solar Jobs Is a Curse, Not a Blessing

Mexicans and Chinese Aren’t “Stealing Our Jobs”, by Bill Bonner

The US government, not the Mexicans and Chinese, are responsible for the drying up of vitality and risk taking, and consequently the job creation, of the economy. From Bill Bonner at bonnerandpartners.com:

GUALFIN, ARGENTINA – Now comes a report from the Financial Times that tells us the nation’s No. 1 industry – homebuilding – has been backing up for a quarter of a century.

According to the newspaper, U.S. homebuilders “started work on the same number of houses in the past year as they did a quarter of a century ago, even though there are 36% more people working as residential builders now than then.”

The report puzzled over the apparent collapse in productivity in the sector.

“Somewhat difficult to believe,” say researchers.

(It’s not so difficult for us to believe… but we’ll get to that in a minute.)

Tremendous Flop

As we’ve written about before, so far, the 21st century has been a tremendous flop.

At least for America.

Economic growth rates have been trending down for 40 years. The number of people with “breadwinner” jobs – as a percentage of the working-age population – is at a 40-year low. And homeownership is back to where it was half a century ago.

There are pockets of prosperity. But get too far from the good neighborhoods and you find dilapidated houses… minimum wages… and drugs.

What happened to all that dazzling new technology from Silicon Valley?

What happened to all that super-duper capital allocation being done by Wall Street – matching young entrepreneurs with trillions of dollars in financing?

And where did all those trillions of dollars in new money – put out by the Fed via its quantitative easing (QE) program – go?

Many are the bogeymen… the fall guys… and the stooges in this spectacle.

Ask around: Some blame the Democrats. Some blame the Republicans. Some blame robots. Most don’t know whom to blame.

To continue reading: Mexicans and Chinese Aren’t “Stealing Our Jobs”