Two reasons why it (the jobs situation) will not get better no matter who is commander...

June 4 2012 at 1:30 PM
Dougb  (Login DouglasBear)

Response to the real estate bubble burst, and most experts say the student loan bubble will be next

1) competition
2) technology

and I'd guess a third reason is that austerity seems to be in fashion now.

As far as "1)competition" goes.. back in the good ole days Americans had to compete with Americans, and that's about it, and they were far fewer in number. Today, you are competing with the world, 7 billion and growing. As an example, I want to make a widget. I tell the Americans, I'll give you a stab at making my widget, but the (people from another country) can make it for X dollars, so you'd have to come in pretty close to that with your bid or I'll just make it overseas (where there are no pollution controls, employee benefits, etc.) Globalization has increased the competition dramatically over the past two decades.

As far as "2) technology" goes, in an ever increasingly competitive world, machines are cheaper and more reliable than humans. They also do not need employee benefits. As an example, the use of drones in the military. Drones allow a small staff in an air-conditioned office to make a strike that would require far less resources than sending in bombers and human beings. Less risk of huge loss of life or property as well.

In the workforce today one must compete with sophisticated computer networks and seven billion people. My hunch is that research and reliance on computers& technology will only continue to grow, and so will the world's workfore (population) making competition for good jobs ever more keen with each passing year. No matter who is commander, waving a magic wand to create jobs is probably much easier said than done. And most of the ones created will be temporary in nature. During the last boom cycle, most jobs were related to the construction, sale and furnishing of homes. Once the bubble popped, we found out those jobs were just temporrary, and went away quickly when the bust hit.

If I were to state another reason that the long-term jobs situation will probably not improve no matter what the commander in chief promises, is that the earth's resources are finite, being depleted every day, and need to serve an increasing population with each passing year, thus increasing the competition for such scarce resources. Case and point: oil. During the '80s and '90s, they just pumped liquid oil from the mideast out of the ground, sent it to us, and we made it into fuel. Today, we get more oil from Canada than we do from the mideast. Problem is that the Canadian oil requires on barrel of oil input to net three barrells of oil output, due to the energy intensive operation of converting tar sand to oil. It is much more expensive to produce, thus more expensive at the pump.

So if I had advice for a young person today who wants to get ahead, I'd say invest in a little car that gets great gas mileage, and major in IT so you will be in the running for the few good jobs that will come online in the future. Getting a PHD in sociology is probably not going to get you a good job when sociologists will be axed out of budgets. I'd say learn how to make drones, weapons, or design computer-related products, because tha't where the budgets will be allocated, and the few good jobs available. The future will be bright for sophisticated machines and the people that design them.

And finally, college costs are going through the roof, at a far greater pace than inflation. Investing or going into debt for a degree with little future will only bring stress, and hounding by loan creditors. If one is going into debt for their education, I'd say be very careful that you A) like your major, and B) are certain that a good job will be there for you upon graduation. The shrinking of budgets, austerity, competion, scarceness of resources, and reliance on people less and machines/computers (aka "efficiency") will only become more entrenched with each passing year. That's my 2 cents. The only way out that I can see is to move out away from the megalopoli and become an expert hunter and farmer.

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