Much hay is being made this weekend on the last Jobs data released before the election. But is this all just baloney?
Can well paying jobs really come back? Can Presidents turn back the tides of history?
I think that a policy focus on Jobs is misguided. The old good jobs cannot come back. So long as we focus on Jobs, we are all stuck.
You hope they may come back. Here are some useful snips from a piece by Douglas Ruskoff. How will they come back in say the Post Office?
"The U.S. Postal Service appears to be the latest casualty in digital technology's slow but steady replacement of working humans. Unless an external source of funding comes in, the post office will have to scale back its operations drastically, or simply shut down altogether. That's 600,000 people who would be out of work, and another 480,000 pensioners facing an adjustment in terms.
We can blame a right wing attempting to undermine labor, or a left wing trying to preserve unions in the face of government and corporate cutbacks. But the real culprit -- at least in this case -- is e-mail. People are sending 22% fewer pieces of mail than they did four years ago, opting for electronic bill payment and other net-enabled means of communication over envelopes and stamps.
New technologies are wreaking havoc on employment figures -- from EZpasses ousting toll collectors to Google-controlled self-driving automobiles rendering taxicab drivers obsolete. Every new computer program is basically doing some task that a person used to do. But the computer usually does it faster, more accurately, for less money, and without any health insurance costs."
We see this process in every sector of the economy. Who can change this to the good old days? It's not going to happen! And the jobs that are left are not worth having.
New Employment Software such as Dayforce enables management to reduce hours for part timers. Meaning that as more and more people lose full time jobs and seek part time, that they cannot get enough hours to keep going. Here the NYT shows the impact:
“Over the past two decades, many major retailers went from a quotient of 70 to 80 percent full-time to at least 70 percent part-time across the industry,” said Burt P. Flickinger III, managing director of the Strategic Resource Group, a retail consulting firm.
No one has collected detailed data on part-time workers at the nation’s major retailers. However, the Bureau of Labor Statistics has found that the retail and wholesale sector, with a total of 18.6 million jobs, has cut a million full-time jobs since 2006, while adding more than 500,000 part-time jobs.
Technology is speeding this transformation. In the past, part-timers might work the same schedule of four- or five-hour shifts every week. But workers’ schedules have become far less predictable and stable. Many retailers now use sophisticated software that tracks the flow of customers, allowing managers to assign just enough employees to handle the anticipated demand.
“Many employers now schedule shifts as short as two or three hours, while historically they may have scheduled eight-hour shifts,” said David Ossip, founder of Dayforce, a producer of scheduling software used by chains like Aéropostale and Pier One Imports.
Some employers even ask workers to come in at the last minute, and the workers risk losing their jobs or being assigned fewer hours in the future if they are unavailable.
The widening use of part-timers has been a bane to many workers, pushing many into poverty and forcing some onto food stamps and Medicaid. And with work schedules that change week to week, workers can find it hard to arrange child care, attend college or hold a second job, according to interviews with more than 40 part-time workers."
Ask yourself, will big retailers give this up?
But we want our jobs back. We think that Jobs are an eternal truth. But they are not. Here is Rushkoff asking the right question:
"Jobs, as such, are a relatively new concept. People may have always worked, but until the advent of the corporation in the early Renaissance, most people just worked for themselves. They made shoes, plucked chickens, or created value in some way for other people, who then traded or paid for those goods and services. By the late Middle Ages, most of Europe was thriving under this arrangement.
The only ones losing wealth were the aristocracy, who depended on their titles to extract money from those who worked. And so they invented the chartered monopoly. By law, small businesses in most major industries were shut down and people had to work for officially sanctioned corporations instead. From then on, for most of us, working came to mean getting a "job."
The Industrial Age was largely about making those jobs as menial and unskilled as possible. Technologies such as the assembly line were less important for making production faster than for making it cheaper, and laborers more replaceable. Now that we're in the digital age, we're using technology the same way: to increase efficiency, lay off more people, and increase corporate profits."
I htink that so long as we long for a job, we are blind to the new world of opportunity ahead. For just as the technology has taken away, so it also gives back. If you can open your eyes to it. So what is "It"?
"Back in the old days, the blacksmith just made every bit of ironmongery everyone needed, one piece at a time, at his forge. That’s where we’re at. Every industry that required a factory yesterday only needs a garage today. It’s a real return to fundamentals.
What no one ever could do was join up all the smithies and all the smiths and make them into a single logical network with a single set of objectives."
In my new book - You Don't need a Job - I do my best to answer this question and to offer a path of employment to anyone who will choose to see it. When you see what I and many now see, you will be free to make the right choices.