If you haven’t read The Atlantic’s Making It in America, a well written piece on the state of US manufacturing and the people most affected by it, you’ll want to do so. The author Adam Davidson interviews workers of varying skill levels on a fuel-injector assembly line in Greenville, South Carolina.
The article boils down to the fact that while American manufacturing is on the rise, it’s coming at the cost of jobs. Robots are doing much of the mundane, repetitious work that American factory workers used to do. And as the cost of robotic machinery gets progressively cheaper, more jobs will be shed.
American workers are also competing directly with Mexican, Polish and Chinese workers.
The Chinese in particular work for dramatically less wages than US workers, and with China artificially cheapening it’s currency (as economists decry), it’s no wonder the unskilled factory worker is an endangered species.
For more on this, you can listen to the author discuss his article and the past, present and future of manufacturing on the excellent EconTalk podcast with Russ Roberts. On a related note, there is a short video on why German labor policies fare better than America’s.
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