« Feldstein Hates Cap and Trade | Main | Paul Krugman: Reagan Did It »

Monday, June 01, 2009

Reich: The Future of Manufacturing, GM, and American Workers

In this discussion, Robert Reich defines the term "symbolic analyst""

A growing percent of every consumer dollar goes to people who analyze, manipulate, innovate and create. These people are responsible for research and development, design and engineering. Or for high-level sales, marketing and advertising. They're composers, writers and producers. They're lawyers, journalists, doctors and management consultants. I call this "symbolic analytic" work because most of it has to do with analyzing, manipulating and communicating through numbers, shapes, words, ideas.

He continues:

The Future of Manufacturing, GM, and American Workers (Part II), by Robert Reich: Symbolic analysts have been hit by the current downturn, just as everyone else has. But over the long term, symbolic analysts will do just fine – as long as they stay away from job functions that are becoming routinized. ... The global market gives them more potential customers for their insights.

To be sure, symbolic analysts are popping up all over the world. ... But apart from recessions, demand for symbolic analysts in the U.S. will continue to grow faster than the supply. ... In decades to come, nations with the highest percentages of their working populations able to do symbolic-analytic tasks will have the highest standard of living and be the most competitive internationally.

America’s biggest challenge is to educate more of our people sufficiently to excel at such tasks. We do remarkably well with the children from relatively affluent families. ... But we’re in danger of losing ground because too many of our kids, especially those from lower-middle class and poor families, can’t get the foundational education they need. The consequence is a yawning gap in income and wealth which continues to widen. More and more of our working people finds themselves in the local service economy -- in hotels, hospitals, restaurant chains, and big-box retailers -- earning low wages with little or no benefits. Unions could help raise their wages... A higher minimum wage and larger Earned Income Tax Credit could help as well. Not all of our young people can or should receive a four-year college degree, but we can do far better for them than we're doing now. At the least, every young person should have access...

Some argue that ... we need more manufacturing in the U.S. ..., that ... the market is fallible,... that ... sometimes we need to consider what’s good for our economy and society as a whole regardless of where the market may lead us. But that’s exactly where I depart from those who believe we need to protect or bring back traditional manufacturing in the United States. To do so would be enormously costly. I just don’t get how those costs can possibly be justified.

    Posted by on Monday, June 1, 2009 at 12:17 AM in Economics, Technology, Unemployment | Permalink  TrackBack (0)  Comments (56)

    TrackBack

    TrackBack URL for this entry:
    https://www.typepad.com/services/trackback/6a00d83451b33869e2011570b4ca59970b

    Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Reich: The Future of Manufacturing, GM, and American Workers :


    Comments

    Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.