Archive for the ‘jobs’ Tag

Whatever Happened to the Telephone Operators?   Leave a comment

I am seriously tired of the 2020 election and it’s still 18 months away. It’s going to be hard to stay focused on principles when drowning in politics.

But some of these candidates are — well, worthy of a laugh or two. Take Andrew Yang, a former lawyer and entrepreneur, who is advocating for a Universal Basic Income to be implemented for all 18-64 year-olds. It’s pretty much his entire platform. His argument for this, per his website, is “a third of all working Americans will lose their job to automation in the next 12 years. Our current policies are not equipped to handle this crisis.”

There is a growing list of vocal people insisting technology advancements will result in massive unemployment, and so they advocate for the UBI as necessary to keep society afloat. The idea that technology destroys jobs and will cause massive unemployment prevails despite being a disproven myth.

Take a look at history before you argue.

If technology had been destroying jobs for the hundreds of years people have been arguing about automation and machines, there would be hardly any jobs left. Bulldozers took the place of men with shovels. Cars put railroad workers out of business. Elevator operators, typists, blacksmiths, and manual telephone operators jobs all vanished over the 20th century.

Official unemployment in September of 2018 was the lowest in nearly 50 years. The labor force participation rate has actually increased due to women entering the workforce. We have more jobs now than ever.

In other words, predictions of technology harming the workforce have constantly failed since the dawn of technology. Despite this, Yang says automation will create a crisis within the next 12 years and that a UBI will handle that crisis.

Sigh ….

Technology helps to make the economy stronger as machines and tools make humans more productive. The entire goal of economic progress is to make us more productive, more efficient, have more consumer goods available, more leisure time, and higher standards of living. This is achieved by higher productivity and efficiency. We are better off not needing twelve people with shovels to do the same thing as a bulldozer.

Yang worries about what the 3.5 million truck drivers in the US will do if their jobs are automated away in 12 years. THis is assuming that all companies can afford and will buy self-driving 18-wheelers in that time frame.

Well, what happened to all the video store workers who lost their jobs when streaming overwhelmed Blockbuster? What happened to the 1.5 million railroad workers who lost their jobs as people moved to their own cars? They didn’t all starve to death. They found new work and that’s already occurring in many industries. Job hopping has already increased as people learn new skills and get new jobs. They do it constantly. Society creates and destroys different kinds of jobs through technology. Markets adjust and people find new work. It’s been going on since the Industrial Revolution.

Job displacement does occur because of technological advancement and people must adjust. Some people may need help when finding new jobs and new careers and that’s a worthy discussion to have. However, technology should not be avoided and feared because it replaces currently existing jobs. It makes our lives better and leads to the liberation of labor for newer, better jobs.

The next generation of technological development and automation won’t result in a joblessness crisis. It will simply result in a change in occupations that might feel chaotic for a while, but will not be the end of the world.

Whatever happened to the weavers displaced by the Jacquard looms, for example? If you don’t know, you should study some history.

Posted March 26, 2019 by aurorawatcherak in economics

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Lessons of an Employment Vagabond   2 comments

July 24, 2017 – What Kind Of Lessons Could Anyone Learn From What You Do In Your Career?
Are there life lessons that people who aren’t in your career could learn from? You might be amazed.

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Related imageI’ve been a fair number of things in my employment career. My first “real” job (not working for my mother’s daycare or babysitting the kids down the street) was washing laundry and running the cash register at a laundromat. Then I was a waitress at a family-style diner, a janitor, a maid, front desk personnel at a campground, a cashier in a few businesses, a reporter/journalism, and then I went into administration. When I first decided that I needed a job that actually paid money (reporting wasn’t providing me with a living wage), I decided my existing skills best suited office work, but I didn’t have any experience in that field, so I signed up with a temporary placement agency while I was still working as a reporter part-time. I showed what I could do. I also learned that temps, though they aren’t eligible for benefits, make more money than full-time employees, so I actually temped for about 2 1/2 years in a variety of offices — medical, legal, insurance, University of Alaska, did some research for private investigators, took minutes for some boards, and transcribed a lot of depositions and the minutes for Doyon’s annual meetings.

Then I took a break to spend time with my daughter when she was little. That company went out of business, so I had to start with a new company when I went back. I didn’t like it so well, so as soon as a temp position offered me a full-time gig that I thought I would like, I landed a “real” job. I worked in a construction company, a travel agency, and then went into the mental health field. Now I work in transportation.

I’ve probably had 25 “permanent” jobs in my working career, one for 15 years and then the one I’m working now will probably be the one I take into retirement. I expect to work about 12 years here. That job number is not unusual for Americans these days. We’re all employment vagabonds. The era where you took a job right out of high school or college and worked there until you retired has been over for about two decades. I’m not sure whether that’s a good or bad thing for society, but this one thing I learned from my own employment journey … be flexible.

Image result for image of flexibilityFlexibility is the most important tool an employee can bring to any job. Even in the long-term job I had with the mental health agency …. I used a variety of skills, the demands shifted from time to time and I had to learn new skills occasionally to continue to do my job correctly. The job I am currently in added a component to my position that is journalism-adjacent. I aggregate the transportation news for Alaska on a daily basis. Although I had a background in journalism, it required adding new skills to my set because it had been nearly 25 years since I’d worked in the field.

Flexibility keeps employees in demand and, as an indie author, it provides me the confidence to say “I can do that.” Maybe I’ve never done “that” before, but I am confident that I can learn how to do “that” because I have been acquiring new skills and being flexible my entire working career.

Flexibility is the key to employability.

Posted July 24, 2017 by aurorawatcherak in Blog Hop, Uncategorized

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Fracking Jobs   Leave a comment

Natural gas is already a critical part of America’s energy portfolio and consequently a critical part of the country’s economic growth. It provides over 25% of electricity generation, but it also provides feedstock for fertilizers, chemicals and pharmaceuticals, waste treatment, and food processing. It is the largest energy source for home heating and fuels industrial boilers.  The abundance of shale gas brings the possibility of low, stable prices. North America has approximately 4.2 quadrillion (4,244 trillion) cubic feet of recoverable natural gas that would supply 175 years worth of natural gas at current consumption rates. Further, the National Petroleum Council estimates that fracking will allow 60-80% of all traditionally-drilled wells during the next 10 years to remain viable.

The abundance of natural gas makes the United States an attractive place to do business for energy-intensive industries. Royal Dutch Shell recently announced plans to build a petrochemical plant in western Pennsylvania, cited the proximity to natural gas production as the reason for the location. The $2 billion plant will create 10,000 construction jobs and thousands of permanent jobs for Beaver County, Pennsylvania. Shuttered steel towns like Youngstown, Ohio (where pipe and tube producer, V&M Star, is building a factory to manufacture seamless piples for hydraulic fracturing), are seeing a re-emergence of manufacturing employment opportunities. That one factory will employ 350 people.

I have a special interest in North Dakota because my mom is from there and I still have distant relatives living there. The average worker in the oil and gas sector in the Bakkan oil and gas fields earns more than $90,000 a year — a sum so large that it’s pushed up incomes in non-oil sectors. The overwhelming majority of these oil jobs require a high school degree or less. The oil and gas workforce in North Dakota has increased from 5,000 in 2005 to more than 30,000 today.  North Dakota recently approved a budget that increased 12% over the previous two-year cycle.

So what’s the problem? Is there really one?

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