In my last post I laid out the case for globalization and technology being the prime drivers of economic change rather than politics or policy. That no matter who wins this or future elections they cannot change the new reality that machines are increasingly able to do the work humans used to and that folks from across the planet – at all skill levels and in more and more industries – are competing with us for jobs.
The result: 5, 10 20 years from now the following almost certainly will be true no matter who holds power in Lansing and Washington:
• Job growth will be concentrated in the knowledge-based sectors of the economy: health care, education, finance and insurance, professional and technical service and information.
• Factory work will be a smaller portion of the workforce
• The earnings disparity based on education attainment will grow.
• Nearly all the states and regions with the highest incomes will be those with the highest proportion of adults with a four-year degree or more.
• The knowledge-based sectors of the economy – with the greatest job growth and most of the high wage jobs – will be concentrated in big metropolitan areas.
We may not like these trends. We may want to turn the clock back, but we can’t. What made us prosperous in the past, won’t in the future! Each of us, our children and grandchildren need to adjust to these new realities or we will get poorer. There is no option. No one can turn the clock back for us.
So what we should ask of our elected officials for is to design policies and programs that will help position us to take advantage of these new realities. We can ask them to stop these trends, get us back to the good old days, and they may tell us they can. But they can’t. The only path back to prosperity is by aligning with – rather than resisting – the new realities.