Labor Day when there is no work

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Labor Day when there is no work

Celebrating Labor Day is poised for a fundamental transition. As the work force shrinks, the 21th Century version of the nature of employment is undergoing deep and primal changes. Some stats that are relevant point out that 62.8%: Labor Force Participation Has Hovered Near 37-Year-Low for 11 Months.    

“In February, according to BLS, the nation’s civilian noninstitutional population, consisting of all people 16 or older who were not in the military or an institution, reached 249,899,000. Of those, 157,002,000 participated in the labor force by either holding a job or actively seeking one.”

And 47% of Unemployed Have Given Up Looking for a Job.

“A Harris poll on behalf of Express Employment Professionals conducted last month found that 47% of such workers say they have "completely given up looking for work." The survey of 1,500 unemployed adult Americans also found that 82% of those who receive unemployment compensation say they would look harder for a job if those payments ran out. The other 18% agreed with the statement that they would be in such despair, they would give up looking for work altogether.”

The prospects of finding a job, especially a full time highly paid position are becoming a rarity for more employment seekers with each passing year. What is going on to the engine of prosperity? Some forecasters paint a bleak portrait for adjusting to the development of technological reshaping of society.

A CNN report asks, What does a world without full-time jobs look like?

“The most common occupation among American men is driving. But the advent of the driverless car could put lots of cab drivers, truck drivers and limo drivers out of work in the not-so-distant future.

Automation may also replace the jobs of many retail salespeople, cashiers, office clerks and food and beverage workers, said Derek Thompson, senior editor of The Atlantic, in an interview with CNN's Fareed Zakaria.”

Obviously there will always be work for the technocrats who implement the wholesale downsizing of the workforce. Just maybe the only growth industry that will survive might be the one that puts the labor ranks out to pasture.

Ever since the introduction of computers, the digital age has spawned earthquakes of dislocation. The changes are very different from the demise of the horse and buggy line of work.

A study from MIT provides a somber assessment. Report Suggests Nearly Half of U.S. Jobs Are Vulnerable to Computerization warns of a need for a total rethinking of the way the economy functions and the adapting roles for labor.

“A recent report (which is not online, but summarized here) from the Oxford Martin School’s Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology attempts to quantify the extent of that threat. It concludes that 45 percent of American jobs are at high risk of being taken by computers within the next two decades.”

If so many jobs are becoming obsolete, what will people do to earn gainful employment? Another prognostication by futurist Thomas Frey offers some sobering projections on the kind of occupations that will exist as 2 Billion Jobs to Disappear by 2030.

Here is a brief overview of five industries - where the jobs will be going away and the jobs that will likely replace at least some of them - over the coming decades. (Read the detail explanation from the source)

1.) Power Industry

2.) Automobile Transportation – Going Driverless

3.) Education

4.) 3D Printers

5.) Bots

In these five industries alone there will be hundreds of millions of jobs disappearing. But many other sectors will also be affected.

Certainly there’s a downside to all this. The more technology we rely on, the more breaking points we’ll have in our lives.

The implication from such a vision for the future tears at the roots and institutions of society. It is difficult to imagine that a world of diminished earned livelihoods could exist without even more centralized governmental control over the planet.

The picnic celebrations of Labor Day when company workers would gather together with their families are largely non-existent. What will be the substitute for the practice of honoring the noble endeavor of honest work?

Well, a shopping spree to stock up on Labor Day bargains is not exactly a replacement for the satisfaction of completing a job well done. Sadly, not all unemployed would agree.

As the economic model shifts from an earned entrepreneurial environment to a collectivist dependency society, the need for a growing work force diminishes significantly.  

The logical end result demands that useless eaters cancels out any productive gains from a 3D manufactured assembly line.

With the absence of self-respecting pride in being a part of meaningful enterprises, the distractions of sport, entertainment and social media becomes empty.

People now channel their time and meager energies with Facebook and Twitter posts, and avoids engagement in a purposeful dialogue. Now the idiocy of “selfies” has become the nauseous replacement for self-esteem.

The tragic plight of a decaying national infrastructure is being ignored. Rebuilding roads, bridges, sewer and water systems alone could regenerate a workforce and reverse the trend in relying on a cyberspace economy.

Even if driving becomes automated, the repair of vehicles will still require hands not allergic to getting dirty. Solely, blaming drones, robots and computerized technology for the sharp decline in employment misses the cost-effective intentional motivations to cast a part-time work economy.   

Lurching towards a society based upon lawyers, insurance, finance, regulation and trivia is not a course for greatness or even a marginal quality of life. Work is defined by the merits of the end results.

Building is honorable work, whereas governmental and tax policies that discourage a productive and growing economy will fail and result in horrible suffering for our compatriots. Labor Day is not about union solidarity but it is about the union of all Americans committed to the practice and dignity of working towards a better future.

It is long overdue to face up to this task.

James Hall – September 2, 2015

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