Monday, March 27, 2006

Jobs, Jobs, Everywhere, But Not One for Them?

In a New York Times article, Louis Uchitelle writes about the plight of United Airlines mechanics who were laid off in 2003.

The presumption promoted by economists, educators, business executives and nearly all of the nation's political leaders, Democrats and Republicans alike holds that in America's vibrant and flexible economy there is work, at good pay, for the educated and skilled. The unemployed need only to get themselves educated and skilled and the work will materialize. Education and training create the jobs, according to this way of thinking. Or, put another way, an appropriate job at decent pay materializes for every trained or educated worker.

Uchitelle's mistake is assuming that airline mechanics are skilled workers. If United did not think that they could hire other workers at lower wages without compromising quality, they would not have laid them off. In a recession, the less-skilled workers are the first to go.

"Outsourcing had won, hands down," the author concludes, in reference to the United lay-off of two years ago. Employers go where there are the most workers willing to accept the wages they want to offer. For some highly skilled jobs(like medicine or law), this means the U.S. For others(particularly in the field of technology), this means India, or elsewhere in the developing world. The airline mechanics fell in this category.

The author thinks that the number of skilled jobs are not rising enough to meet demand. "Not enough job openings exist at $31 an hour or at $16 an hour, for that matter," Uchitelle says. Not true. As Charles Wheelan points out in his brilliant treatise on modern business, Naked Economics, "The economy is evolving in a way that favors hihgly skilled workers." It seems cruel that as the already rich get richer, the poor get unemployed. As those who study it are fond of saying, "Economics is about incentives." While it is too bad that they had to lose their jobs to prove a textbook point, every cloud has a silver lining. These incentives mean that people will go back to school and change fields if necessary to get highly paying jobs. In other words, we will adapt. Just don't get your heart set on fixing airplanes.

Hat tip: Dan Johnson-Weinburger


Blogger Joe Berenguer said...

Hey Fellow, you have a great blog here! I have a web
site & blog about job portal.
Yours is top-notch!
If you have a moment, please visit my site
job portal
I wish you all the best!

5:17 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home