Although the plural of anecdote is not data, we’ve found Slashdot over the years to provide reliable early warnings of what were to become pervasive practices in the US employment market. For instance, for well over a decade, Slashdot has regularly featured reader-submitted articles along the lines of “I’m a new graduate in IT and can’t find an entry-level job.”
The oldsters would explain how yes, none of the large and hardly any mid-sized companies were willing to train people. They’d send the yeoman work that used to be how young professionals learned their trade offshore. Of course, that meant that the US was choosing to give up its leadership position in computer science by refusing to develop the next generation of professionals, but no one seemed to care much about that. The seasoned types would explain to the stranded aspirant how to cobble together assignments to try to develop a decent skill set.
That pattern has been replicated in other professions, in particular law and accounting. So how will we have a service industry in 15 years with no experienced service professionals? The only consolation is that some of those people over 65 who need for financial reasons to keep working may have higher odds than they ought to, if they are in one of these hollowed-out fields, of continuing to find work.
With this background, we have in the same day, hat tip bob, two stories on Slashdot that say a great deal about the reality of the labor market versus the official hype. It’s noteworthy that the comments, which are typically fractious at Slashdot, line up almost uniformly on the “employers are looking for insanely specific and often unrealistic experience.” And why might that be? In the case of tech in particular, to justify bringing in more H-1B visa candidates.
I suggest you read both threads in full. I’m featuring some representative comments below.
Here’s the first post Do Tech Companies Ask For Way Too Much From Job Candidates?:
The short answer: Yes. Many employers’ “required” skill sets seem to include everything but the ability to teleport and build a Shaker barn; the lengthy requisites of skills and experience seem achievable only by candidates who’ve spent the past four decades using a hundred different programming languages and platforms to excel at fifty different, complicated jobs. Why do a lot of tech companies do that? Dice asked around and discovered a bunch of different reasons. Companies want to make investments in talent, but the inherent costs of that talent also make them wary of hiring anyone but the absolute best. The need to find the right talent, and the concern over cost, often leads to employers producing job descriptions too broad for the actual position. There’s also pure idiocy: PHBs don’t know what they want, don’t understand the technology, and throw just anything into the description that pops to mind. Is there any way to stop this scourge?
Some readers pointed out if you were going through HR, you were already doomed, since for the better jobs, HR served only to do housekeeping (like run those background checks before the offer was actually made). But there’s more to it…see this comment and then the replies:
They want everything, but when someone who has everything applies, they don’t want to up the ante with high pay.
This. I was speaking the owner of a company last week. He loved my capabilities and experience, kept going on about the pivotal role I could play in his company and then said to my face that he was not going to pay market rates (but not in those words) – and no, he didn’t mean he’d pay above market rates, he wanted to pay about 15% to 20% below market rates, and he was not offering anything in return of that.
You show the point. They don’t want to pay. They want someone who is gullible. And that reduces to someone who is as young and inexperienced as possible with the minimum required knowledge. The long list is for lowering the applicant self esteem and make her/him believe that she/he hit the jackpot if hired.
Slashdot’s community also pointed out that Dice failed to mention the elephant in the room, namely, the role of the H-1B visa process in these unrealistic job specs. That came even more strongly in focus in the second piece, Obama Administration Claims There Are 545,000 IT Job Openings. The post proper:
The White House has established a $100 million program that endorses fast-track, boot camp IT training efforts and other four-year degree alternatives. But this plan is drawing criticism because of the underlying message it sends in the H-1B battle. The federal program, called TechHire, will get its money from H-1B visa fees, and the major users of this visa are IT services firms that outsource jobs. Another source of controversy will be the White House’s assertion that there are 545,000 unfilled IT jobs. It has not explained how it arrived at this number, but the estimate will likely be used as a talking point by lawmakers seeking to raise the H-1B cap.
And the comments were pithy:
My experience is the people looking for tech jobs now either:
A. Want more money than they are worth (no offense)
B. Are skilled in an area that is saturated (Windows admins)
C. Expect the world to be like the Google Campus (Hipsters)
D. Frankly, aren’t worth hiring.
My experience is that the companies hiring tech workers now either:
A. Want to pay less than people are worth (and therefore want to hire easily exploited foreign workers)
B. Want specific experience with technology that hasn’t existed long enough to create it
C. Want to provide crappy working environments with clueless management
D. Frankly, won’t be in business very long because they can’t adapt.
B. Want specific experience with technology that hasn’t existed long enough to create it
I cant tell you how many job postings I read that said things like you need 5 years experience with X,Y, and Z…. only problem is Y and Z have only been out for 2 years and 4 years respectively.
Some of that is cluelessness in HR departments. (I recall a time where the jobs adds were filled with posts for entry level sysadmins, which demanded enough years of Unix experience that only Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, M. D. McIlroy, and J. F. Ossanna MIGHT qualify. B-) )
But some of it is part of the “hire a cheap H-1B” game. By making the requirements impossible (or rejecting all but a handfull of people who already receive astronomical fees on the consulting market), they can claim that “There are no available US citizens quaified for the post.” Then they hire an H-1B.
Of course the H1B doesn’t have the qualifications, either. But his resume is inflated (typically by his recruiting firm, without his knowledge or approval).
The employer knows the game, and isn’t expecting the claimed skills to be present – just enough skill to do the actual job. But a citizen who similarly inflated his resume would be in serious trouble as a result.
The boss gets his cheap laborer, the H-1B gets his job and visa, the recruiter gets his fee. Everybody is happy except the rejected US candidates.
So who checks for fraud? The boss is happy. The rejected candidates are in no position to investigate or initiate a claim. The government is not interested. (The boss’ company is a big political contributor.) Nobody else has standing.
So now you know how it’s done. And the Administration is completely on board. As another member of the Slashdot community remarked,
2017 cannot come fast enough. The current administration in the white house does not even know what party it represents, what it stands for.
Actually, it does, but it’s now becoming clear to anyone who is paying attention that the Democrats are running on brand fumes. Yet the party is still acting if it can pull another fast one off on the electorate after being shellacked in the midterms. Good luck with that.
just yesterday the labor department released the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey; the broad business services category, which included everything from janitors to temp office help, shows just 927,000 job openings
As a professional quietly looking for better employment, I’m flabbergasted by the utter crap being peddled as gainful employment. My higher level of education actually prevents me from seeking out jobs in which to retrain. Nobody told me that having a master’s degree in humanities actually limited my job prospects. I’m overqualified, and I doubt I can convince anyone that I want to retrain!
David Graeber is tackling this in his new book about bureaucracy, but suffice to say, the education system has actually pigeonholed me quite badly.
— Cohen & Grigsby Vice President Lawrence Lebowitz, talking about the immigration services his law firm offers to corporate clients. Jennifer L. Barton, from the same law firm, adds:
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: “City law firm’s immigration video sparks an Internet firestorm”.
A friend who is the owner, CEO, etc. along with his sons, of a large construction firm in MD, recently mentioned that they had purchased four large trucks to haul aggregate…and have been searching for months now for qualified drivers….
Has he tried raising the pay?
(Second try at replying to Furzy Mouse.)
Not to run down your businessman friend, but has he considered in house training? Apprenticeships were the original method of fostering a skilled cadre of workers for a company. It’s how my Dad, who couldn’t afford University became a Draftsman and Engineer. His Apprenticeship Certificate was accepted by USAID back in the sixties as proof of competency in his field.
As for truck driving, the same dynamic seen just about everywhere else is at work. Companies want pre trained drivers for cheap. For an idea of the costs of learning that skill see:
Correction, you mean, “Has he tried offering pay?”
Qualified drivers would be especially vulnerable to any downturn in aggregate demand.
Not that he mentioned, but as he has been my friend since high school, and we are now ancient beings, I can mention that I know for a fact that his company has paid very well over the years, retained and trained many workers, and promoted a number of women over the objections of their “field” bosses. It is my understanding that these drivers need certification or licenses from the State of Maryland to operate these heavy vehicles, so that would be outside his purview.
To haul aggregate? Maryland laws must be screwy then. In Illinois, that’s just a standard CDL. Or he wants them to haul stuff other than aggregate as well.
I’m familiar with this “shortage” of truck drivers as I work in the CPG industry. It’s projected to get worse too. The correct way to solve it is to raise pay, drawing more supply into the market.
It’s very much within his “purview”. The only way to get a CDL is to have experience driving those very large trucks. Are all the applicants now supposed to go out an buy a 300k+ piece of equipment to train on?
He could offer training, in his own yard, with his equipment, without the driver needing any CDL. Getting the trucks on public roads is what requires a CDL.
Another knock on effect of this over qualification push is the increasing number of young and middle aged people going back for more ‘training’ at universities. They have been bamboozled into believing that they have to ‘up their game’ to have a chance in the new ‘meaner and leaner’ jobs market. I met several such people while working at the Big Boxx Store. They worked at a crap job to pay some of the bills while ‘improving’ their skills set at university. You could almost determine when the ‘awful truth’ finally dawned on them that they were wasting their time. The fire would go out of their eyes. They would walk slower, act somewhat more distracted, and be found standing staring into space, musing.
I’m somewhat surprised when otherwise intelligent people act like this is some new thing. If one were to include the importation of slaves in the class of ‘immigrant streams,’ the practice of encouraging cheap foreign labour to move to America to keep wages depressed has been going on for at least three hundred years.
The underlying dynamic is really “class struggle.” The best counter to the owning classes power that I have seen, short of an actual Dictatorship of the Proletariat, is Labour Unionism. Since we are evidently entering a period of “New Robber Barons” it behooves us to peruse our labour strife history from the older “Robber Baron” period. The Red Necks of Kentucky, the Molly Maguires, the original Wobblies, the Magon brothers and the Constitutionalists of Mexico all showed the lengths one had to go to in effecting real reform.
Despite a century of popular propaganda emanating from the Technocrat Class, there is no easy way to gain and keep freedom. Until the former ‘solid’ “middle class” accepts this harsh judgment, there will be no progress for the majority of humanity. I personally grew up believing that I too would be a “Master of the Universe.” Boy, have I had a lot to unlearn.
Yes, this issue has “class” written all over it.
And it’s not just of course a U.S. phenomena — this article http://www.coolingpost.com/features/apprentices-better-off-than-graduates/ shows that in the UK, both younger people and, perhaps far more importantly, their parents’ preconceptions about what they need to do to “succeed” in what passes for our society/culture today are a very strong behavioural driver. In some ways, you can’t blame the mega-corporations (and maybe even less blame SMEs) for exploiting this self-inflicted gullibility. I do blame them of course, there’s nothing wholesome about exploiting people just because they are exploitable.
But regardless of fault, it is not going to be pretty when a cohort of currently 20-somethings realises that they’ve wasted not only money but more importantly a fairly hefty chunk of their early lives, having been sold a crock of bull. We’ll find out then just how “un-dischargeable” all those student loan debt really is.
Yes on that 20-something cohort prediction. I look to the social conditions “on the ground” in Greece for forward guidance on this issue. Not enough is made of the actual living conditions of the general population of Greece resulting from the macro-economic decisions being made in Brussels and Berlin. This seems to be an artifact of the MSMs predilection for using ‘credentialed’ talking heads to explain “simply” a complicated issue to its’ consumer base. The purported “Masters of the Universe” take the servility of the commons for granted. History has shown this attitude to be a variant on the theme of “Hubris.”
People are being short changed. The ‘average’ person is capable of much more than he or she is credited with being able to accomplish. Classical Bards, at least in Western Europe, had to be able to memorize thousands of lines of verse to achieve Master Status. Frank Herbert used this theme in his ‘Dune’ works under the name ‘Mentats.’ Returning full circle; can we classify the present financial class as a proper “class?” If so, then the class struggle is alive and well.
The company I work for “insourced” its entire IT department a few years back-I was a union programmer and part of our CBA contained a codicil whereby the company had to find me another position-not working in IT anymore. HOWEVER, hundreds lost their jobs, and now IBM India is doing the work on site.
In the software arena you don’t need H-1B’s, they can work directly from their country of origin. As mentioned above, IBM does this, but it’s not just India. IBM is notorious these days for cutting the older, more expensive workforce here, then simply outsourcing to say Slovakia (really). In the IBM world, someone has to get a bad review on their curve (called Resource Actions), meaning anyone with a “3” is now getting a pink slip. This isn’t anything new, but the speed at which it is occurring today is. I think readers at NC are intelligent enough to figure out why.
Thanks, Northeaster … I was scanning down to make a similar comment. Some of our best people are in Bulgaria, France and Ireland because that is where they want to live. Most modern companies have globalized (virtualized) their workforces for many reasons. Freezing out the US-native worker is a simple matter of driving the wage rate down while keeping the cost of living in-country up to sustain profits.
And yes, IBM is the poster child in how to implode in the most obnoxious ways. They’ve been doing it since the 1980s. A good friend and ex-IBM-Fellow characterized the early programs as an IQ test. At the time, anybody taking “the package” was quite certain of getting good job and possibly a raise. So it was a test to see if you were smart enough to improve your lot. A lot of us did.
Several years ago IBM’s new CEO set a goal of getting to a specific share value target in order to appease Wall St. Since then they’ve been selling off businesses and outsourcing like mad in order to hit a target that is essentially set by HFT algorithms. In that context they simply cannot invest in anything useful but only cut costs which is, as you say, a problem.
guilds vs unions
big business killed unions by giving them too much heroin…then handed them a gallon of gasoline and matches to help with the self immolation…while we were asleep, the department of labor became the department of making sure major enterprises reslaverize america…it is not only impossible to operate a union today, it is impractical to attempt to start one…
in this type of situation, what is needed is activity closer to what a guild used to do…and can do again…and a guild is really just a simple non profit enterprise…easy to form…easy to operate…and under the “”educate and inform” type of operation (most non profits just talk) can easily move against the industry and its actions on job descrimination….easy meaning easier than wasting time with a “union” operation….unions are dead…the rules have been designed to insure they never rise again…
yes, like many things in life, one can easily find issue with bad things guilds did along the way…history is full of discooperation…but in the today and the now…because it is a little hard to feed oneself on the dust of history…
so be it…onward and forward….guilds can provide the benefits without the barriers…until ALEC and the Chamber figure out “guilds” need to be dealt with…but like many things in life, it will take them ten years to accept these incipient guilds are a problem…
“First they ignore you. Then they ridicule you. And then they attack you and want to burn you. And then they build monuments to you”. …Nicholas Klein (not mohandas)
The catch is that guilds existed back when they were granted legal monopolies on a given practice by the local lords or the crown. They got this monopoly in exchange for guaranteeing certain levels of profit to the same ruling class. Thus it was a way of outsourcing tax collection and keeping rigid heirarchies over segments of the population.
By the same token the industries that the guilds operated in (weavers, fullers, blacksmiths, etc.) were all owner-operated. Thus there was no distinction between the guild members and the companies that they ran. In effect the guilds were closer to corporate lobbying groups like ALEC and the Chamber of Commerce. And since the guilds were run by the most successful members they routinely suppressed smaller operators and engaged in practices that look like those of ALEC and the Black Chamber. They banded together to keep wages low, they locked out other suppliers, and in at least one occasion in 13th century Lyons the clothmakers guild gathered together to hire soldiers and “suppress” the weaver’s guild to keep prices low.
These days the guild structure would face serious problems absent an end to monopoly laws and the existence of large corporations which would simply be able to abuse the guild structure the way that they abuse campaign finance and existing regulatory structures.
That is not to say that Unions are the ideal. They exist in a framework based upon a clean separation between workers and management. Something like the German cooperative system or perhaps just a clean political system (:-) would be better I think.
Where are the H-1B doctors then? Guilds seem to be a positional good (i.e. “the future, just not equally distributed”).
What is a positional good?
Yep, of course there aren’t really unfilled jobs. STEM is a propaganda term invented by the political class to blame the victim, as if it is the fault of Millennials for not studying hard enough in school that they don’t have decent jobs.
And on H1-Bs, that’s how the lawyers tell HR to structure things. Craft job descriptions to be unrealistic, so that way you have documentation that who you didn’t hire wasn’t qualified. It’s not even really specific to H1-Bs. This is a fundamental problem when we talk about jobs, because there is no definition of what a job is. It’s whatever the employer is looking for. In a society where there are a few decent jobs and a lot of crappy ones (and no alternative to working), employers’ main staffing problem is not finding qualified workers. They are everywhere. The issue is weeding people out carefully so they don’t get sued by the huge numbers of the people who want a decent job that you didn’t hire. And then of course there are terminations, which is another mine field even with an employee that is obviously a bad fit for the culture of an organization.
If employers needed more employees, then they wouldn’t be so choosy. It’s that simple.
But I’d say the bigger issue is the general restraint on the movement of people. We used to mock the Soviets for people having to carry paper around. Now the government meddles in every aspect of employment, which is a de facto subsidy of large enterprises at the expense of entrepreneurship and solo practices. Combine that with public policy that subsidizes mal investment and wage inequality and government sanctioned criminality and there’s no way to not end up with the stagflation we’ve had of the last couple decades.
The key thing for me is none of that is the fault of foreigners “taking our jobs”, but yet both Republicans and Democrats seem quite far down the xenophobic path of blaming domestic problems on foreign factors.
H1-b visas are not just for STEM jobs, my company hired an accountant on an H1-b visa.
I started to wonder at the push for H1-B Visas and the recent olive branch offered to Cuba — a source for numerous well-trained medical doctors, and probably nurses as well. I don’t know all the mechanisms medical doctors have used to protect their lucrative practices. As far as I do know much of their protection comes from AMA control of the state licensing for medical doctors. Is there some move underway to open medical doctors to capture by pressuring these state licensing boards?
Well after all the other jobs have been outsourced or insourced from manufacturing, to customer service, to I.T.. Insourcing doctors is the only way we’ll be able to afford medical care at all (barely).
The AMA doesn’t control much of anything. Only about 15% of practicing U.S. physicians even belong to the AMA (see: http://www.cmaj.ca/content/183/11/E713.full). Yes, it lobbies and tries to exert political influence, but it’s about as effective in this as the AAUP.
If the AMA doesn’t control much of anything and only 15% of physicians even belong, who or what is controlling the medical profession? Something controls the number of medical school enrollments and specializations. I had the impression foreign trained medical doctors had a difficult time getting certified to practice medicine in the US. If so, who or what controls certifications? If not, how have doctors been able to maintain and consistently raise the prices they charge for the services they provide? How have medical doctors been able to protect their profession for so long? Medicine is one of the last remaining professions. How is that the case?
I’m getting a little off topic — but I really do not understand how medical doctors — and I’ll add in dentists — have so successfully guarded and maintained their privileges long after engineers, programmers, teachers, college professors, attorneys and architects (if I left any profession out I apologize) have seen their professions transition to glorified wage labor.
Please help me understand what is going on.
We could use some barefoot doctors to take care of simpler health maintenance issues, with the help of advanced machines and robots.
The medical industry is like a guild? From C‘s comment above.
The catch is that guilds existed back when they were granted legal monopolies on a given practice by the local lords or the crown.
The AMA spent almost $20 million for lobbying last year. OpenSecrets.org AMA Its record as a prodigiously effective turf protector is well documented. For example, beginning in the late 1970s it proclaimed a “doctor glut” and for the next 30 years successfully lobbied to maintain no increase in medical school graduates; meanwhile the US population increased 37 percent. The result: “physician compensation bumps up health care spending in America by $58 billion annually, on average, because U.S. doctors make twice as much as their OECD peers.” The Evil-Mongering Of The American Medical Association (See also Washington Policy Center, “The Looming Doctor Shortage“)
The AMA’s Relative Value Scale Update Committee (RUC), a secretive, specialist-dominated, sole-source federal advisory committee that determines the relative value of medical services for Medicare and Medicaid, has been characterized as “the most blatantly corrosive mechanism of US health care finance, a star-chamber of powerful interests that, complicit with federal regulators, spins Medicare reimbursement to the industry’s advantage and facilitates payment levels that are followed by much of health care’s commercial sector.” Health Affairs Blog, “The RUC, Health Care Finance’s Star Chamber, Remains Untouchable”
They ought to be for lowering the age of Medicare….more patients. more business.
But now, everyone is required to buy insurance, it depends on which pays more, I guess.
I read through all the cited references on medical doctors, the AMA and RUC — the one reference by Propertius and the four references by Gary Orton and found them all excellent sources of information. Pieced together they construct a damning picture of the medical profession and the many ways medical doctors have conspired to drive up their incomes through capture of the government regulatory processes.
Still digesting but some brief high-lights:
The CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) reference described the AMA as the medical profession’s national level organization of clout. The current 15% participation by practicing doctors contrasts with a 75% participation in the 1950’s. The article’s speculation on causes for the AMA’s decline seemed facile and unconvincing to me, especially the “Bowling Alone” attribution. The article did indicate the presence of a second layer of medical unionization — the state and specialty medical organizations. These seemed to be pulling members from the AMA. These second tier organizations control certifications: “Specialty societies have seen strong growth because of their ties to continuing medical education and board certification.” Another cause suggested for the recent declines in AMA membership also seems plausible to me — the decline reflects widespread unhappiness many of practicing doctors felt because of AMA backing of US President Barack Obama’s health care legislation.
The reference on AMA $$$$$ lobbying at the national level hardly suggests an impotent organization. As Gary Orton, cited in his comment ~$20 millions of lobby money for Health Professionals for 2014, of which more ~$18.8 million came from the AMA and the rest from several state medical societies.
The Forbes reference noted that Congress limits the number of residencies it funds to 100,000 per year.
“This imposes a de facto cap on new doctors every year given that without completing their residencies from accredited medical schools, physicians cannot obtain a license to legally practice medicine in the U.S. Even foreign doctors with years of experience in their home countries have to redo their residencies–along with taking a slew of exams–before they are allowed to practice here.”
Aha! That is how the medical profession protects itself from foreign competition.
The Washington Policy Center reference “The Looming Doctor Shortage” detailed how the number of medical schools and number of doctors graduated was controlled in years past to create todays high fees and “Doctor Shortage”.
“The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) anticipates a shortage of 150,000 doctors in the next 15 years. Other sources predict a shortage of 200,000 doctors by 2025.”
“According to the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC), there are currently 110,000 post-graduate residency positions in the U.S. Although Congress placed a limit on taxpayer funding in 1997, these residency hospitals rely heavily on federal taxpayer money. This money comes out of the Medicare program and last year totaled $9.1 billion.”
So, Medicare funds a tidy sum for hospital residency programs.
Item #7 in this policy paper’s list of neoliberal market oriented recommendations:
“Increase the use of well-trained foreign medical graduates and reduce their visa/immigration requirements.” Suggests there may be something to my hunch about the H1-B push, Cuba, and moves to break the professional side of the Medical Industrial Complex.
Item #8 was also interesting:
“Encourage the use of community scholarships for medical students with guaranteed commitments to service in the community after graduation.”
“The median debt students have at graduation is $150,000 at a public school and $180,000 at a private institution.”
So — maybe medical doctors can be captured and tamed, and staked to the ground by their school loans.
The reference to the practices of the RUC painted an especially damning picture of the medical specialties. One assertion that caught my eye:
“The RUC’s excessive valuations of certain procedures — e.g., cardiac stenting, colonoscopies, back surgeries — have created lucrative incentives for over-utilization.”
When a small group of primary care physicians (PCPs) brought a suit to give PCPs more power in the RUCs (translates to: Relative Value Scale Update Committee) so they could get a bigger piece of the action:
“Like the district court ruling before it, the decision dismissed the plaintiffs’ claims out of hand and on procedural grounds, with almost no discussion of content or merit.”
While I sympathize with PCP’s desire to get a bigger slice of the pie, the bigger and bigger pie is coming out our pockets.
I had been giving medical doctors a relative bye in my ire with the Medical Industrial Complex, focusing instead on outrageous hospital charges and health insurance costs — but no more. The whole edifice appears rotten. However, I do wonder whether the AMA and its local subsidiaries might be bribed to broaden their lobbying activities to help engineers and programmers.
Um think twice. The private equity industry spends all of $2.5 million on lobbying.
and untold millions on bribery.
Yes. I’ve seen companies like that, hiring much of their accounting staff from H1Bs. It may have originated in I.T. but there is no safe harbor now. The unbelievable thing is that while a programming language might be only human language specific to a certain degree, the accounting standards are very very specific to the U.S. They are U.S. accounting standards people all over the world learn so they can do U.S. jobs. That’s how bad it is.
Agreed, I didn’t mean to imply otherwise. Just most of the discussion on NC has been specific to IT or more generally to the hard sciences. H1-B is a type of work permit, not a type of industry.
Your opinion in this matter is most curious to me. I agree STEM is part of a big propaganda push. It does serve as club for beating down Millennials but I regard that application as a happy by-product. The STEM controversy arose remarkably coincident with the immigration bill introduced during the reign of GW Bush. A reprise of the STEM controversy arose remarkably coincident with the immigration bill introduced during the Obama reign. The press release from the National Academies for their book length study “Rising Above the Gathering Storm”, echoing the title of Book 1 of Winston Churchill’s World War II Series, came out in October 2005. The very first bullet from a series of bullets in that announcement is telling:
“– For the cost of one chemist or one engineer in the United States, a company can hire about five chemists in China or 11 engineers in India.”
There have been almost yearly updates to that report since 2005, including a substantial update in 2010, and more recently in 2012.
Your next assertion that there are relatively few good jobs making an employer’s problem a matter of weeding out the sea of candidates without stepping on a mine in the hiring and firing minefield is peculiar. Having worked for more than 20 years at relatively interesting IT jobs serving the Military — no I’m not especially proud of this but it paid the bills — I didn’t experience the same dearth of “good jobs.” I was reasonably well-paid. Only the efforts of various management types to microcontrol my work execution detracted from the jobs. I do agree with your claim that the legal mambo-jumbo associated with employment is excessive, though I disagree with your assertion of actual legal risk associated with this mumbo-jumbo. Just read the forms our schools send home to get permission for field trips or read the disclaimers and fine print on the tiny papers inside a medicine box. I don’t believe this legal overkill is related to any true risk. Success in bringing a discrimination suit is limited, as are the settlements. Only a fool would bother — it’s like making a disability claim against an employer. I don’t know exactly how employers do it but you’ll be as good as black-balled for further employment after a discrimination claim.
Your next assertion is addressed by the bullet from the NAS report cited above.
I have no idea what general restraint on the movement of people you refer to. The collapse of the house market definitely constrains movement but I’m not sure that’s what you had in mind. The government does meddle in matters of employment although of late most of this meddling has been such innovations as taking away sick pay and making it easier for employers to avoid paying overtime. The government has indeed worked hard to encourage mal investment. It has done its best to stifle entrepreneurship and give big subsidies and advantages to large, very large enterprises, Corporations. This has not been good for creating new jobs. I believe the government has facilitated Corporate out-sourcing and off-shoring of jobs and Industry. As for stifling entrepreneurship and solo practice, this works to compel a choice between employment and effectively no income.
As for foreigners taking our jobs — they are taking our jobs both overseas and here in this country. If you don’t believe this you need to check around with a few of the many IT consulting houses and see who they are staffing. I live in a community with a large Indian community — we celebrate Diwali at the town center. Many of the Indians are IT people here on work Visas. I bought my little Toyota from one of these guys. His database job had petered out and TATA hadn’t come up with a new assignment for him. After he sold the car, he regretted it because he just got a new assignment in the Mid-West. I talked with him a little about his database job. My impression of his job from talking with him was of a vanilla database management job easily filled by a young American database specialist.
I don’t believe most people place blame on foreign workers for taking American jobs. As for the political parties — they will place blame anywhere but where it belongs. I place the blame on government and the large AND small enterprises who open jobs to foreign workers to further undermine the wages and morale of the domestic workforce. [Even though small enterprises get the screw from the government they are just as willing to hire Latinos to fill their lawn maintenance services as Tyson Foods, Inc. is to hire Latinos to butcher chickens in factories approaching conditions of the factories described in “The Jungle.”]
FATCA and other tax provisions come immediately to mind as a formidable inconvenience or worse for expats.
or workers comp. seems that has become a thing of the past. and some states dont require employers to have it, and even if they do, their insurance companies have ways to delay or deny care. and its not just some states that do that.
It sounds like we have the same nonpositive vibe about initiatives like STEM. It also sounds like we have the same vibes about decent jobs and malinvestment. People who have maintained decent employment have generally found the system to work pretty well. Especially in a public role like military contracting. The primary issues over the past couple decades have been new workers and workers who got dumped overboard. It’s not that we have fewer decent jobs today so much as it is we have more people. Off the top of my head, I think there has been no net creation of regular full time jobs in the US in all of the 21st century. It might even be slightly negative. And of course, a lot of even full time jobs are pretty crappy.
There are many laws that impose actual legal risk, especially burdensome for smaller organizations who don’t have dedicated administrative staff for these things – or extra funds for unexpected bills. Hiring and termination of employment are the two clearest outcomes, and they also tend to be when employees feel most free to complain about employers, so that is where operationally much of the risk lies. I’m not just talking overt, blatant discrimination/harassment/etc. Mistakes and misunderstandings also open up considerable liability. We can explore magnitude, but the risks do exist. The general concept to keep in mind is that even if you have done everything right, being right can still cost you meaningful organizational time and legal resources/settlements. I know it sounds ridiculous, but just to give a specific example, you can get in trouble for retaliating against an employee who filed an EEOC complaint when you weren’t even aware that a complaint had been filed. It’s not that you’ll lose a lawsuit if you take it to trial (if you’ve done everything right). It’s that you’ll pay tens of thousands of dollars in legal fees and strategic distraction to win a lawsuit. So you do some sort of mediation/arbitration for merely thousands of dollars of legal fees, settlement payments, and strategic distraction even thought in a good faith, common sense point of view (not to mention legally) you did nothing wrong.
Now for hiring H1-Bs specifically, there’s a layer of maneuverings in job postings. One part of the layer is that you are actively working with legal counsel. The very existence of work visas is a problem I’ll touch on later. But beyond that, you as the employer are asking the government to say there are no domestic workers available. So the more detailed and overqualified you write the JD, the better. It’s protection for when people respond to your job posting. You can say, see, they don’t have a Master’s degree in Russian literature and 10 years work experience in Indonesia. Of course, this is predicated upon higher education degrees and experience meaning something – a very interesting rabbit hole when you start forming principles to guide employee compensation not based upon formal education and experience. It is precisely the people with advanced degrees in our economy that occupy most of the positions of power and influence and it just so happens they decide to pay themselves more than the median wage for all of their smarts.
Here I’m talking about things like visas in general. And I-9 forms. And the E-verify system. And TSA. It’s insane that the government has put employers in the position of being spies and data collectors and law enforcement agents. It’s insane that the government has completely abandoned the 1st and 4th amendments and dramatically gutted many other parts of the Constitution. Not only is it inefficient, especially burdensome for smaller organizations and lower income people, but it’s also straight creepy and authoritarian. And again, specific to H1-Bs, it creates some specific challenges. People in the US on an H1-B visa are indentured servants. The government literally does not authorize them to be in the country without their employment. This leverage, more so than cost, is what the big employers like about H1-Bs. And even for the workers who aren’t being abused, it creates constraints. For example, the spouse doesn’t have work authorization, either. So in order to work, they have to find an employer willing to sponsor their own H1-B. The couple better hope they end up in the same city, or can move when only one has a job. Which then is an interruption for the employer, too, if an employee they like moves away because their spouse’s H1-B required moving to another city.
Which ties into the next point, also:
This is one of my fundamental problems with the way things work today. We have created a system where, for practical purposes, almost everyone is forced into working for someone else or living at the margins of society. It’s not that formal employment isn’t fantastic for organizing resource at scale. It just shouldn’t have a monopoly on the basic needs of life.
I hear what you are saying, and I’m fully aware I’m making a minority viewpoint, but consider a different perspective. You view those as ‘our’ jobs that ‘they’ are taking. I think that perspective is not helpful – indeed, that it feeds into the Us vs. Them fires that authoritarians of all stripes have been stoking. India is one of the great and populous cultures of the wold. Why shouldn’t lots of people in America have roots from the subcontinent? Why is that bad? Diversity, plurality, dynamism, these are the good parts of globalism, the stuff that is getting shoved aside by the authoritarian groupthink approach to globalism. Why isn’t somebody in the US who wants to stay in the US an American? Why do you view work as a fixed asset rather than something that grows dynamically with more people adding the energy and fuel and drive of making the world a better place?
What I mean by not taking our jobs is that Americans work a lot, and wages are very unequally distributed. The economic issue is distribution. We have plenty of wealth and plenty of work. If anything, we work too much. Just look at those lazy Germans.
Here I’d offer a very different perspective. It’s not foreign workers lowering wages and morale. It’s highly paid American workers that lowers wages and morale. That’s the distraction, the propaganda, the midsection. The issue isn’t the total amount of wages earned by Americans. The issue is the distribution of those wages.
P.S., this obviously is not a comprehensive list, but thought of a couple more of my pet peeves this morning: wage garnishments, especially of low income workers, are out of control. And our unemployment system is not only an absurd patchwork that doesn’t cover most people out of work, but for those that are potentially eligible, it is specifically structured to pit employers and employees against each other.
I appreciate your further explanation of the points you made and agree with your positions.
However, I feel compelled to quibble somewhat with your suggestions at the tail of this explanation that I have some problem with foreigners and new citizens. I chose to live in a town where Diwali is celebrated in the town center because I very much enjoy “the good parts of globalism” you described. The problem I am concerned about is the very old problem of government and Corporate promotion of immigration to make sure two, three or more applicants stand hat-in-hand to seek employment. That is what leads to lower wages and morale. The same effect could be attained over time by encouraging larger families to assure population growth faster than jobs creation.
I’m not in favor of wide-open immigration even without a jobs problem though, I’m not sure of your position on this point — so forgive me if I’m sparing with shadows of my own creation. Given conditions in the rest of the world this country would be swarmed until conditions here started to match conditions abroad. Yes, immigrants have built jobs and industry in this country and been a positive force in general but the available work is a fixed asset at a given point in time. If I’m out of work now, the dynamic you suggest isn’t going to help me when combined with the dynamic of growing immigration at a rate faster than the rate of job growth, in effect growing population faster than jobs. Working population grown faster than employment however it is accomplished creates the lowering of wages and morale that concern me.
I agree with your assertions about unequal distribution of the products of our labor. I agree that there could be more jobs if we might somehow cut back on the hours worked and hire more people to fill the opening slots but my agreement along with a couple of bucks will get you a cup of coffee.
As for the describing jobs located in the United States as American jobs, I’m not sure how else to describe them. I apologize if that contributes to “Us vs Them” thinking.
Washunate – “India is one of the great and populous cultures of the world.” Yes, busy breeding themselves to death, destroying their farmland, their water supply. India will have its day of reckoning.
“Why shouldn’t lots of people in America have roots from the subcontinent? Why is that bad? Diversity, plurality, dynamism, these are the good parts of globalism…” How easy is it for us to get a job in India? It’s nice when globalism only works one way, isn’t it? How much do Indians embrace diversity? I say embrace H1-B’s ONLY when there are no jobs for citizens who were born here.
obviously, the New Left, mutilated child of the Old Left, and its mindless focus on non-Western diversity is a problem. Diversity is only unilateral. However, another salient point is that the complete leveling of wages will completely collapse the world economy. Demand is already very low and debt is sky high.
They don’t expect to actually win. Hence Hillary. It’s their turn to take a dive. Now we get a 2 term “moderate” Republican president with a folksy air and an even thinner veneer of populism than Obama in 2008.
The democrats running on “Brand Fumes”? Well, yes, but they are also running on the fact that the Republicans are just about as bad – and the fact that the corporate media basically refuses to connect the dots between excessively high rates of immigration and a lousy job market, and the periodic ‘justice for Trayvon’ or Bruce Jenner sex-change hyped media circus.
Right now about the only politician making any sense is Senator Jeff Sessions – but liberals have been so conditioned to think of him as ‘racist’ that they refuse to listen. I would encourage you to go to his web site and read his speeches on the matter and see for yourself.
IMHO he sounds a lot like the second coming of FDR. If people like him can’t get support from us because the mass media have told us that he is somehow untouchable, then they rich have won, haven’t they?
As someone who has been working in one or another facet of the IT/Data Communications field, I can say that this is old news. That’s not to say that Yves should not have bothered posting this, but rather it should be posted on every US economic-oriented site in the country on at least a weekly basis. There has to be some way to embarrass companies into stopping all these practices. Obviously Washington D.C. has no interest whatsoever in cleaning it up despite their constant call about needing more tech education here in the U.S.
As others have noted, IBM is one of the poster children of some of these practices. I recall back in the early 2000’s when IBM laid off thousands of US IT people and replaced them with overseas jobs and with H1-B’s. That same year they got massive tax credits for “creating new jobs” and paid no taxes. I was unemployed at the time and lived near a couple of large IBM facilities, had applied for a couple of different positions that I was well qualified for, and never even got a rejection email.
Just about every person in the IT field has at least one or two personal anecdote about all these practices, particularly those who have found themselves without a job. I don’t want to sound like I’m raising an old personal grievance but rather to mention what I believe is a variation on a common experience (in hindsight, I was lucky). At the time I mentioned above, I had moved 300 miles to take a new job I was offered with another company and at the last minute (about a week before my verbally given start date) I was rejected because my requirement of a lousy minimum of $15.00/hr was “too high”. Apparently 14 years worth of experience in developing skills in Microsoft, UNIX, and industrial PLCs (programming and Sys Admin) were deemed minimum wage skills to this particular company.
The entire H1-B program is a classic example of wage (and skills) destruction that has been the norm across this country for at least the last 20 years.
You are dead right re: IBM. I have friends at IBM. They have been laying off 10-15,000 US tech workers per year. They are replaced with H-1Bs and Offshoring jobs to low wage countries (the BRICs, Brazil, Russia, India And China). This year’s layoff was especially large, reportedly 20,000 laided off. However, they do not report actual numbers b/c their govt puppets do not require it. IBM used to report worldwide employee numbers in its annual report. But they stopped that because reporters could determine how many jobs were offshored year to year. IBM did not like the bad press so they hide the numbers now.
As of several years ago they had cut the US workforce from 200,000 down to 90,000. But worldwide employee workforce remained constant at 400,000. You do the math. BTW, IBM is a big player in H1B utilization.
The top 5 H1-b companies (from 2012)
1 Cognizant 9,281
2 Tata 7,469
3 Infosys 5,600
4 Wipro 4,304
5 Accenture 4,037
Fun fact, those major H1-B companies are consulting services that specialize in offshoring and supply IT to other tech firms.
They bring in H1-Bs and sell consulting services to other tech companies, saves them the trouble of filling out all that paperwork.
Its not like we needed more proof that Obama is a clueless fraud and a spineless lackey for the CEO/plutocrat set but this is really the topper. The guy who was supposed to give us eleventy-dimensional chess regurgitates patently bullshit mythology from sociopaths who have been systematically destroying employment, wages and working conditions for Americans so they can funnel even more profits to the 1% of the 1%.
Even if Obama’s claim were true at least some of these “open” positions could be filled if employers would stop discriminating against older workers and the unemployed. As someone who fits both categories and has been out of work for more than a year and a half I can personally attest to this situation. After only a few months of unemployment you get treated like a convicted felon by HR types except that they’re blaming you for something that happened to you rather than for something you did. And its a never-ending cycle: you can’t get hired because you don’t have a job and the longer you’re out work the less chance you have. I’ve been laid off three times since I reached 50 despite a solid work background and valuable technical skills but this time may spell the end of my career. Its very difficult to maintain your technical skills when you don’t have work or to maintain your interviewing skills when you can’t get interviews.
Employers bemoaning “skills gaps” and “worker shortages” are merely crying wolf or creating a diversion so they can extort even more worker-unfriendly policies from clueless pols like Obama (and almost every other pol). These bogus claims occur with the regularity of the sunrise. They’ve been made irrespective of economic or labor market conditions for decades which means that they have no connection to objective reality. The effect is to push the blame on the victims of the anti-labor policies of business and government for the predicament they find themselves in.
When I first started in IT I was mostly self taught and have consistently pursued self-education (with some formal training) to improve my skill set and was very successful in moving to progressively more challenging jobs often out-competing those with formal CS backgrounds. And now I’m apparently unemployable. What’s the difference? It sure isn’t a “skills gap” or lack of training. it’s simply a lack of demand that’s being misrepresented in order to save face for the failure of Obama and the Democrats to adequately address the employment crisis resulting from the financial crash and further the anti-labor agenda of employers.
I agree with your analysis of the perfidy and totally piss-poor performance of ObamaCo on jobs, employing US citizens gainfully, etc.
My one comment would be, though: there’s precious little difference between what laughingly passes for allegedly “two” political parties. Not giving Obama or the D-Branch a “pass” on this at all. I am as disgusted as anyone else. But mark my words, a putative “R” admin would do no better, and who knows, maybe worse.
The entire political system is broken, and every crook in the District of Criminals works for the 1%. Their constituents are the 1%, the big Bankers, Wall St honchos, corporate CEOs. The politicians, the lobbyists, the pundits & talking heads – they’re just not that into the 99%. They know which side of the bread to butter, and believe me, they don’t give a crap what happens to the “average citizen.” If we all die? WIN.
I take that as axiomatic. But more is expected from those who don’t belong to the batshit-insane wing of the uniparty but it seems that they could never get past their own spinelessness, political cowardice and corrupt allegiances to the PTB and as a result handed an effective veto to the Republicans because Democratic leaning voters were given few reasons to go to the polls. I would add that “the Republicans would be worse” is all the Obamacrats have to recommend them because there’s an awful lot of room between being “better than the Republicans” and being, you know, actually good.
Can’t argue. My main point being that the political system is utterly broken and expecting either the alleged “branches” of the UniParty to actually “do” something beneficial for the masses is risable, at best naïve, and at worst just mind-numbingly stupid.
What to do? Sadly I have no realistic answers. Some here talk about a guild system, as the Unions are mostly corrupt, themselves, and ineffective at best (albeit I wouldn’t dissuade someone from trying to unionize). I’d be all for strengthening that, if possible. It is one thing to consider for workers.
I mostly vote what is misleadingly called “third” party, as I can no longer bring myself to cast a ballot for ANY incumbent outright CROOK in the District of Criminals. Will that action “do” much of anything to help out? Maybe, maybe not. At least I can sleep at night knowing that I did nothing to support these greedy criminals in their disgustingly contemptuous behavior.
My main point is this: hate on Obama all you like. I’ll probably elbow you out of the way to diss that venal greedy criminal. But expecting anything different from another pol in either of the legacy parties is a fool’s errand, indeed.
I don’t know why you think that I expect anything different from other politicians from what I dismissively called the uniparty. I vote Green or abstain also. Have been doing so for years.
Sorry. Wasn’t pointing specifically at you. Was speaking generally.
Having read Slashdot for many years, the attitudes towards difficulty in finding jobs have really changed. 15 years ago, anyone complaining about H1-bs would be told his skills were obviously lacking if that person could not find a job and would be pointed towards learning the current IT flavor of the month.
Anyone over 40 complaining about age discrimination in a job search would be told that his skills were obviously out of date and would be pointed towards learning the current IT flavor of the month.
Now it seems, the average Slashdot reader is no longer in his early 20’s, but perhaps late 30’s and has finally lifted his head from the keyboard to realize what is actually going on around him.
Good post and good comments. I, too, have been in the IT field for decades; have managed to find and keep a decent-paying job. It’s not easy. Like many, I experienced the brunt of the fake “we just don’t have enough experienced trained IT workers” hoax during the dot.com boom of the ’90s. I was younger then (clearly), had good technical training and a lot of solid experience. Everyone *thought* I could a new job within seconds.
Yeah: ha ha ha… jokes on me. Luckily I also have academic credentials and experience in another field and have been gainfully employed (not the new “normal” sadly) ever since. But the H1-B visa was a scam back then, just as it is now, and it was being used then (in the 90s) to import tech workers mostly from India to work at super cheap wages.
I also now have a number of younger IT friends from India (in personal yoga life I have various ties with India) who work here now. I’m pretty fuzzy on what’s going on, so what I say should be taken with a pallet of salt. But my observation is that there are also quite a few Indian companies sending “consultants” here to work, and there’s quite a few of these consulting firms doing this. In theory, at least, the Indians are paid by an Indian company. I must say that the Indians I know seem to be doing very well financially, but my limited experience is that the people I know come from upper middle class to upper class Indian backgrounds. Some have family money, iow, that also prop them up.
Not to disparage Indians or Indian workers, but I wonder how these schemes come about and the usual: Cui Bono??? Because these younger Indians *appear* to be paid quite healthy salaries, not some pared down crappy minimum wage. Believe me, some have purchased houses that I could certainly not afford.
Just a side note. I don’t know what the answer is.
Here’s another related tangent about how US women actually ARE well educated and trained in the STEM fields – despite numerous reports to the contrary (ask yourself why) – and yet there is growing trend for women in high tech & the sciences to quit by middle age due to rampant sexism in how their careers are stalled and they’re routinely passed over for projects and promotions in favor of men.
Obama can eat my shorts. Even if by some miracle there really are a half million IT jobs (highly doubt it), Obama does not want US workers to get them. It is all a scam.
This video shows the playbook used by US Corps to hire tons of H1B visa workers when US workers with needed skills are available and want the jobs. This hidden video shows Immigration attorneys explaining the game to company HR depts.
Plus, only rich foreigners can afford our great, but expensive universities.
Hahaha. Obama weasel words. You always have to parse Obama’s words very carefully because he likes to come back after some atrocity and say, “But I told you I was gonna do that.”
Translation: I’ll make it real easy to hire these cheap H1Bs and cause lower wages for everyone in the IT field.
This is all preparing the battlefield for the upcoming Immigration Bill which will double the number of H1Bs handed out.
Greed knows how to get around H1B visa. Right now, it would be working on smuggling in illegal tech workers.
And if big corporations can’t hire them directly, they can work for their subcontractors.
If this is not happening now, it will. And it doesn’t happen like that in the future, it still makes for a good novel.
oh geez, Obama and his “volks” again.
The recent post:
Applies here as well.
The economists who support the H1B-VISA are credible as they have (corporate) funding. (by some strange coincidence the corporate funded research always result in corporation-friendly policy-recommendations.)
The state is right in its pursuit of H1B-VISA as credible economists support it. Government funded research either comes to the same conclusion or not. But:
If the research comes out in opposition to the corporate funded research then no change -> The government funded researchers do their research again. Repeat as needed until:
The research comes out supporting the corporately funded research then the policy will change -> Government policy changes to become more corporation-friendly.
You’d have to read the job spec and know something about it. Then you would realize that any job spec listing more than a dozen 3&4 letter tech acronyms has no qualified human applicant. Anywhere on the planet. Then oftentimes they’ll throw in specific industry experience – maybe even “second industry a plus!” will get tossed in by a happy overzealous headhunter.
These are the “unfilled” jobs they use to justify the need for H1-Bs. They’ve doing that since the 90s, as anyone who has used Dice knows. Apparently our NSA super tech spook guv hasn’t picked up on it yet.
The notorious Orrin Hatch has sponsored S. 153 which will increase the H-1B cap from 65,000 to somewhere between 115,000 and 195,000, depending on conditions. Note that Hatch is one of the Senators who supports the fast track for trade deals such as TPP and TTIP. Here are the co-sponsors of S. 153, together with the date of co-sponsorship:
Sen. Klobuchar, Amy [D-MN]* 01/13/2015
Sen. Rubio, Marco [R-FL]* 01/13/2015
Sen. Coons, Christopher A. [D-DE]* 01/13/2015
Sen. Flake, Jeff [R-AZ]* 01/13/2015
Sen. Blumenthal, Richard [D-CT]* 01/13/2015
Sen. Heller, Dean [R-NV] 01/16/2015
Sen. McCain, John [R-AZ] 02/25/2015
Sen. Ayotte, Kelly [R-NH] 02/25/2015
Sen. McCaskill, Claire [D-MO] 02/26/2015
Sen. Gardner, Cory [R-CO] 03/09/2015
Amazingly, millions of Americans have voted for these people.
Folks should also realize each H1B visa is good for 6 years. So if they up the number to 195K, that will allow for 1.2 Million H1Bs to be resident in the US in any given year. And they are not here to pick fruit or mow your grass. They are here to take the ‘Good jobs’.
Between H1B visa program, driverless cars and robots, I think we got wage inflation whipped.
Hahaha. 195,000 H1Bs really means 390,000 work visas if they all have a spouses.
Maybe they can combine maternity motels with H1B visas and make more money that way.
Blue Plate Special: One free H1B with every anchor baby.
Spiritual, Intellectual & Physical Poverty
Poverty is a function of feudalism, the path of least resistance, employing artificial scarcity to maintain control. It’s the lazy man and lazy woman’s economy. Feudalism doesn’t give money to landlords and keep tenants on the edge of poverty, with government grown in the middle for the purpose, by accident. Lazy, fat and stupid is a dangerous place to be, and empires feed on reaction, so keep your distance.
Cops are hired, many at subsistence wages, to physically manage the stupidity, with every opportunity to participate in the corruption, to feed themselves. Not all cops follow the path paved before them, and not all cops are morons, but you might no want to expect cops as a group not behave like cops, who swim in corruption, protecting and serving landlords at the expense of tenants. City managers employ cops the way they do in Ferguson, and most everywhere else, because they are paid, very well, in debt, to arbitrarily assign debt, turning costs into investment revenue, with the magic of accounting.
Public education confirms feudalism, with History books written for the purpose, and rewards for the behavior. The ’Founding Fathers’ didn’t escape feudalism; they rebranded it, with the benefit of massive natural resource wealth, to discharge. And despite every attempt to prove scarcity along the entire artificial demographic ramp-up, there remains excess housing, food and clothing. America doesn’t have the largest and least effective military, prison, healthcare, and education complexes on the planet by accident.
Good versus evil is a political parlor game. What you are looking at is stupid versus stupid, looking at itself in the mirror, hoping to draw you into the war. Just because Europe has mired America in the same spiritual poverty of feudal History does not mean that labor is so disabled.
All this crap is fixable, but change is not a function of intellectual or physical prowess. Adaptation is a function of the spirit, which is what kids are for, why you have children when the majority fears to do so, and why the critters want yours, for extortion. Draghi is welcome to assume that labor is contained by feudalism, that there is no shortage of workers that may be replaced by machines, which is what all the nonsensical data is designed to confirm, consumer confidence.
Government is a consumer, not a producer. Printing more money for shovel-ready jobs is not the answer to the problem of artificially high rents and artificially low wages, except in the empire. The critters should put down their shovels, but they won’t, because that’s all they know. Place GDP on a fulcrum and you will see the problemsolution.
Empire is always run by juveniles, consumed by their own History, never leaving their own back yard, assuming it’s the universe. The majority always believes that majority vote may consign your children to State property, a problemsolution that solves itself.
Don’t disable yourself because the majority chooses to do so, replacing itself with machines and voting to do the same to you. Empires replace themselves on a regular basis accordingly. Hitler was neither the first nor the last moron in History to assume that machines, and the pseudo-scientists building them, were the answer, to the same problem.
Whether capital is the beginning or the end of the cycle is a matter of perspective, but insurance against the future always ends badly, which is what SMART technology is all about, controlling thought. That Cloud, the umpteenth derivative of work done 75 years ago, is brains on drugs.
Labor doesn’t compete with labor to efficiently become redundant and replaceable, and just because a government labels an organization as a union doesn’t make it a union. Labor disassembles and reassembles, employing gravity for the purpose, well beyond the myopic empire, in the private economy.
Dean Baker regularly points to the lack of rapidly rising wages as proof that claims of STEM worker shortages are phony, using anecdotal evidence backed by data. Netflix Overcomes the Shortage of STEM Workers
In addition to Econ 101 (“shortages are supposed to result in rising prices, or in this case, higher wages”), he linked to a 2013 EPI study with the following key findings:
Bottom line: “the United States has more than a sufficient supply of workers available to work in STEM occupations.” http://www.epi.org/publication/bp359-guestworkers-high-skill-labor-market-analysis/
Not just IT workers, but many make about the same as they did in 1999.
Whip Wage Inflation Now!
And a ‘Mission Accomplished’ to all.
Wow, that brings back some memories! Good ole Jerry Ford. I miss his skillful use of airplane ramps. Like Jackie Chan, he performed all of his own stunts!
• IT workers earn the same today as they did, generally, 14 years ago
That’s pretty much what I noticed when I looked at IT salaries lately. Except the thing they never seem to talk about is that I would have also had to spend the last 14 years in night school and studying on weekends to keep from becoming “obsolete”.
Which is what makes having a huge job pool to pick from in our “project oriented” workplace such a attractive thing for “employers”. You’ll be busy working on a particular longish term project using a particular skill set – and there is someone in the world studying/working with the next “greatest” tech thing. When you’re done, and exhausted, working on your project – someone else in the world has the perfect resume for the next project at the company. You can try covering all the bases in your spare time in night school, but then there is still the experience requirement. When you finally realize you need to keep this up for 40 years – your brain caves in.
***IT workers earn the same today as they did, generally, 14 years ago***
In 1992, I made $14 / hour with paid overtime, no required certifications for my entry level IT job. I got holiday pay, sick leave, an annual training allowance and 100% health insurance coverage with no co-pays, annual company wide Christmas bonus, annual raises, matching 401K contributions. Free coffee and soda. Friday happy hour gatherings and multiple company-wide parties. Thank you lunches and gift certificates for going the extra mile.
In 2001, that same job paid $9 and it was salaried, had multi-year required work experience and certs. Holiday pay and sick leave became PTO and the total days shrunk, you were lucky if you got a training allowance let alone had the time to take time off for the training, health insurance had co-pays and employee contributions, no Christmas bonus, annual raises stopped pretty much after 9/11, Enron, etc. Employee had to pay for their own coffee. No happy hours. Only the Christmas party. No thank you lunches and a much, much smaller team (now salaried) even though the amount of work had dramatically increased while you struggled to keep up with technology and end-user requests/but I can do this at home.
I could also take about contracting, consulting, outsourcing and visa holders. But then this post would get too long.
Needless to say that there’s a lot in the stats that don’t really convey the entire story.
Perhaps lowering the cost of STEM education/training will help a little to level the playing field…in India, China, Russia, it’s a lot cheaper.
Well, obviously Obama has been on board forever: one of his very first appointments was Diana Farrell of McKinsey Global Institute, the queen of jobs offshoring, from Ground Zero of American jobs offshoring, McKinsey!
See the book, The Billionaire’s Apprentice, by Anita Raghavan, specifically pp. 139-140.
These issues aren’t unique to IT
Aerospace has a giant flock of chickens coming home to roost, especially aircraft mechanics.
Thanks to 30 years of pay freezes/cuts, nobody with half a brain is getting in the field, because if you are smart enough to get an A&P, there are tons of jobs that pay better, have better hours, better working conditions, and a lot less stress, or a combination of all of the above.
Us 50-somethings are dying off and/or retiring. The newbie ranks are filled with “Fog a mirror, get an A&P” types. Or the X-box professional who has no mechanical ability. Or the guys who actually believe the “highly paid mechanic” BS. Or the ex-military guy who knows a bunch about, say, AH-64 fire control systems, but doesn’t know jack about anything else on the helicopter/airplane.
The employer’s “dream” is a 32 year old with 20 years of relevant experience, who will work for $12/hour, but he doesn’t exist.
Everywhere you look in America, business is based on not paying the worker bees jack$hit; and if you can’t find anyone who knows what they are doing to work for jack$hit, you just hire a newbie/H-1B, and create/find a piece of paper that SAYS he’s qualified, mainly to CYA when he screws up.
I was recently cold-called (by a company representative, not a headhunter) for a maintenance management position (my name came up when he asked around). Projects scattered from the Midwest to Florida, tons of travel, and, as usual, lowball pay. Evidently they had interviewed several people for the job, all of them new guys with little/no experience. Told them I was okay where I’m at (especially since this poor guy seemed to be wearing three hats…….pilot/part time maintenance scheduler/part time HR) . They asked what it would take to get a “qualified” guy to take the job. I said “six figures, plus”. Something that I sensed the didn’t want to hear.
What these a-holes can’t seem to comprehend is that anyone worth a damn is already pulling down that kind of pay, and nobody is going to move to BFE to take a 30% pay cut, no matter how friendly the “BFE cost of living” is.
(Cost of food cheaper in BFE? A little, but not 30%. New cars? College Education? Clothes? Utilities?….. Nope.)
The only thing that is significantly cheaper is house prices. And what do you have after taking a 30 year mortgage out? You’re stuck with a paid-for house in BFE.
Please clarify what is an A&P and what does BFE stand for?
Wikipedia says about BFE:
Maybe A&P is a reference to the old supermarket chain The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Company.
“A&P” refers to an FAA-issued Airframe and Powerplant certificate or license required of aircraft mechanics.
Obtaining a A&P license usually requires 2 years of school.
As you say, these issues aren’t unique to IT or to any specific industry.
I’ve worked in the legal field (not an attorney) for most of my working life. Although there are slightly more openings now in the legal field – across the board: attorneys, law/govt office workers, paralegals, professors, etc – there has been such a huge decline in all law-related jobs since the 08 crash that the newer openings are barely noticeable.
Jobs across the board – private, academic, government, court – have been cut significantly, and concomitant with that has been off-shoring of whatever can possibly be off-shored – mainly to India, where locals have good English language skills and have a similar legal system to the USA. And/or certain law office management work has been off-shored, like some accounting work, etc.
Once this happens, then all salaries go down accordingly. While newly minted attorney salaries have long needed to come down – things got really out of hand for awhile – most of the rest of the worker’s (eg, administrators, paralegals, librarians, clerical staff, faculty assistants, etc) salaries were not stratospheric and, like many other jobs, have been stagnating for decades. So now this level of mostly professional worker, expected to have at least a college degree, if not other advanced degrees/certifications, is finding their salaries/wages being pushed every downwards. Of course the general notion is: do you want a job or not?
Sucks. I’m doing ok, as are *some* of my colleagues, but I also know quite a few people who’ve been laid off of good jobs due to such factors as very sharply dwindling law school enrollments, law firms that went bust, government/court jobs that were cut in the aftermath of the crash and have not yet been replaced.
Well, I spent two years full time (eight hours a day, five days a week with a total of three weeks off for Christmas and in summer) in the program to get my Transport Canada Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – M certificate. Perfect attendance, highest marks in the class and then went to look for all the jobs they said would be out there. Gave up after two years searching unsuccessfully and this was BEFORE the big financial crisis! I wasn’t alone. In the other class that graduated the same time as mine (they were running two shifts at the school) no one found a job. The class that graduated three months before us? No one found a job. My class was unique in that one person in my class found a job. He had previously gone through the school getting accredited as a turbine engine technician and had worked for two years at MTU before they downsized. It seems his previous experience was the key. He was also someone you would trust with your life which is good because with aircraft mechanics that’s exactly what everyone who flies has to do!
Suffice to say that I’ve since been extremely skeptical of the BS flying around about the lack of trained workers. A couple of years back one of the big contract aircraft maintenance places I had applied to had one of their PR hacks being interviewed in an article in the local newspaper which was talking up all the demand they had for maintenance people. Looked up their actual job postings: ONE position available, requiring a full M2 license (after finishing the two years of schooling in Canada you need to work for a couple of years logging your work experience as an apprentice and then sit a government exam before you get the license), ENDORSED on the 737-400 and later models. To get the endorsement an employer has to send you on an intensive training course specific to a particular aircraft – usually the course is given by the manufacturer.
I’m currently about halfway through getting an accounting degree. Have a feeling that’s not likely to work out either but I have to try something. At the moment I find it impossible to even get an interview for bottom of the barrel manual labour jobs…
Hm, my post is going to be not popular. I was out of the US for a while, but now I am back (intending to stay for one or two years), and my total comp including RSU is 25xxxx (the cash component is pretty hefty), and you know what’s funny, I applied to a job where I have ZERO experience in i.e. Big Data. Had I actually come in at a more senior position utilizing just my current knowledge base, I would have been paid 3xxxxx. The only thing I did was come in for a bunch of interviews where I was expected to write code to solve problems and having worked for a while, it’s basically second nature. I was told after the interview that so many “senior” engineers had applied to the position and could not code to save their life.
I am not saying that coding is this special thing that only the chosen ones can perform, but saying that with training, anyone can do it is also a bit insulting. Pretty soon, you’ll be saying that I can play the piano or become a lawyer, etc with enough practice, which is absolutely not true. A common saying in the profession is that one good engineer is worth 10 average ones and it’s true because once the code has become spaghetti, it’s pretty much the end.
Here’s the problem with this claim: its made by people who put the candidate in an atypical and stressful position where s/he is not permitted to use the normal tools available to them when they’re actually doing the job. Then the candidate is asked to solve a problem that might seem trivial to those who spent a week thinking it up, going over all of the potential solutions and the nuances of each one in order to develop follow-up questions. Yet the candidate is expected to solve the problem in a few minutes while a group of interviewers are watching every keystroke on a video monitor and peppering the candidate with questions and looking up documentation to back up their criticisms.
And yes, this is an actual situation that I’ve experienced myself. I don’t know about you but I can barely type my fucking name while people are watching me and I’m not the type to shoot from the hip and compose perfect, bug-free, performance optimized code without the benefit of actually executing it or stepping through it in a debugger (and neither are most people). The “can’t code” thing is mostly bullshit. Yes, some people can’t but this type of test does not necessarily select for that. Its a deliberate hazing ritual that does not reflect the actual conditions under which the work will actually be performed and I can guarantee you that the people doing the interviews don’t actually work under these conditions because I’ve been on the other side of the table myself and understand how jaded you can become when the question you’ve researched the crap out of and presented to dozens of candidates is not answered with the speed and accuracy that you can now do it but had no hope of doing when you first thought of it.
You sound more like a real “engineer”, in attitude anyway. Engineers are not creative, they do not “innovate” and do not, under any circumstances, shoot from the hip. They use well know and tested science, properly. Then they sign their name to it.
” I’m not the type to shoot from the hip and compose perfect, bug-free, performance optimized code without the benefit of actually executing it or stepping through it in a debugger (and neither are most people)”
I take issue with the “not creative” comment. Engineering requires creativity in the application of existing science and can be just as innovative in its own way as the original science. The issue is not that one is expected to be “creative” or “innovative” in a technical interview. In fact, its usually the opposite. Stray too far from accepted practice and you’ll find yourself in big trouble. The problem is more one of the atypical and stressful conditions under which you’re expected to perform.
Take issue all you want. Engineering is applied science. Within that context, you aren’t doing anything that hasn’t been done before. That’s the very definition of engineering.
Step out and “innovate” or “create” and you are not engineering anymore. You might be doing science, art, etc. But, you are not engineering.
The elite owners of the multinational corporations have organized a nation-state apart from any country, but drawing upon infrastructure, resources, and labor from as many others as they can buy or propaganidize or violently force into submission. It is all about continuing growth and profits to the shareholders and officers at any cost. This regime will continue until there is another worldwide depression, or until the forces of nature, or both, cause civilization to collapse. Climate scientists warn that significant changes in the Arctic are evidence that runaway climate change is already in progress. People should learn to live with less and prepare for inevitable poverty, suffering, and premature death. It may come gradually, but it will likely be happening during the next few decades.
Ugh! Please don’t crawl under a rock … .
I don’t know exactly what to do about the coming worldwide depression, forces of nature et al — but I’m not ready to curl up and “prepare for for inevitable poverty, suffering, and premature death.”
And I thought I was grimm.
Code? What sort of code? I’m a senior engineer and I can code. I’ve coded in several languages. Some languages I deliberately avoided — like JAVA with all its cutesy coffee names for old concepts.
I probably would do quite badly writing code to solve problems at an interview. After long years of experience I found it best to keep a good cheat-sheet of the commands and syntax I need, a good language reference book and source for a couple of toy programs I can use as a starting point. Not exactly the kind of work setup an interview provides for. I can’t even imagine writing code on an interview. At this point I’ve learned so many similar languages and structures they all fuzz together. I suspect you may be one of the lucky individuals with a gift for memorizing syntax and the good fortune to be able to stay with one language for a relatively long time.
Could I create an algorithm in an interview? I think I could do that and sketch it out in “generalized” language.
Do I believe anyone can code? — not exactly. I have tried to help many of my friends learn to code without success. Are there little tricks and quirks to using each language well? Of course, and it takes time to discover them — and there’s the rub. Not so many years ago engineers and programmers were hired based on what they could learn to do rather than what they’ve already done. Some jobs would tolerate a fairly long learning curve and others might give a couple of weeks at most to get feet on the ground running full speed.
That was then. Now, you won’t get even a look unless you’ve done exactly the same job as the identified opening using the same language on the same platform supporting the same application area for “X” years where “X” is 2-10 years. I think I speak for many others when I say the very thought of doing exactly the same thing for more than a couple of years sounds awfully dull and dulls skill at learning to do new kinds of work. The ability to learn quickly and pickup new skills and application areas used to be an engineer’s best ticket for longevity — but no more.
So — I congratulate you on your luck and wish the best for you. I am left wondering what foreign land you worked in where employers were willing to pay so well for programmers. Was it somewhere in the Middle East by chance?
Engineers are licensed by the state. Which state, and which engineering discipline are you part of?
Long time pet peeve- Calling an employee and “engineer” does not make them an engineer. It just allows the company NOT to pay you overtime, while at the same time demanding it.
I have an engineering degree. Where I come from Professional Engineers (PEs) are licensed by the state. While I was in school, one of my professors spent most of a quarter in Washington making efforts to as you suggest legislate special requirements for using the title Engineer. I am not aware of success in such efforts beyond the requirement to have PE in order to hang a shingle for private practice in engineering using the title engineer. My professor was pushing for holding a PhD as a requisite for using the title engineer.
I assume you must be a PE of some kind. Congratulations! However I hope you will not be too offended if I claim to be an engineer after getting an engineering degree in an engineering specialization, Systems and Controls. I never held a job practicing this specialization but spent many decades working as an engineer/programmer/analyst using whatever title seemed to best fit the work I did at the time. I have never offered my expert opinions as licensed Engineer in court, nor have I certified building structures — and I’m not sure what other activities might require a PE. I have no idea what title you believe I’m authorized to use. I use whatever title my employer used for people doing the work I was assigned.
So, you admit you aren’t an engineer. But- ” I use whatever title my employer used for people doing the work I was assigned.”
That was my point. Your employer does not have to pay you overtime because they decided to call you an engineer, not because you are an engineer.
I’m very sorry I offended your employer.
Wow bob! I read your comment above to roadrider and I don’t want to call myself an engineer any more. Since I have done what is called engineering or software or programming or … whatever work, albeit, sometimes creative work, I really don’t know what title I am licensed or entitled to use. Unfortunately, merely foregoing the title engineer does nothing toward getting me overtime pay.
Yes, because this whole argument is about “YOU”, and only you. If only there were a way for people, Just like YOU, who do what you do to join together, and somehow try and bargain with your employer as far as wages, working conditions, and hours….
An engineer is assumed to be part of a professional society that can represent their interests.
But, go ahead, make me the asshole for pointing out that you are not an engineer, no matter what your boss says.
Wow bob! I cannot figure out where you’re coming from. It’s not about “ME”. I gave you Engineer with a capital ‘E’ and adopted engineer as a title, just as a way to say what kind of work I believe I do. What more do you want?
As for “An engineer is assumed to be part of a professional society that can represent their interests.” That’s a tall order. using a similar criterion for other jobs and types of work I guess someone needs to get to work coming up with a lot of new titles. I fully agree with your notion that engineers (note little ‘e’) need some sort of professional society/union, if that’s one of your assertions. But that will take quite a masterful herder of cats.
As for making you an asshole — unless I’m mistaken and all the guys at NASA who sent man to the moon had PEs and were licensed by their state — your way with words turns an awful lot of guys into not Engineers or not engineers, an awful lot of guys I regard as some of the best engineers this country has ever produced.
Getting back to where this sidebar started, I tried to suggest the job FT found (ref. March 11 at 3:10 pm) was unusual. He is lucky! I also essentially agreed with roadrider about the artificiality of the interview process FT described. I also tried for a small defense of older guys and for an older way of filling job openings. As I believe washunate described in detail above (at March 11, 10:15 pm) the current process of filling jobs is designed to open the slot for an H1-B hire.
“unless I’m mistaken and all the guys at NASA who sent man to the moon had PEs and were licensed by their state”
You are mistaken. More than most were technicians, which is probably the best classification for most “programmers” today.
“It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends on his not understanding it.”
“As for “An engineer is assumed to be part of a professional society that can represent their interests.” That’s a tall order.”
Not at all, and believe it or not, as I indicated, it already happens. State licensing usually requires membership to such groups. There are lots, as there are lots of engineers.
But, you’re an engineer, what would you know about any of this?
We need new classifications! Or, simply the ability to recognize when you are being fucked by your boss with your oh-so-important “title”. That’s the first step.
previous was @FT —
not sure why any body thinks it will matter who the president is. its not like it matters, since the GOP and the DEM both are on board with it
Not every one.
Somebody forgot to tell Sen. Jeff Sessions, the Alabama Republican who has led the fight against expansive immigration legislation during the Obama era. He has not just opposed amnesty, as most Republicans have. He has spoken out against the new visas in the Gang of Eight bill, including a higher cap on H-1B and other guest workers.
Iowa Republican Sen. Charles Grassley hasn’t gotten the memo either. “Somewhere along the line, the H-1B program got side-tracked,” he said in a statement last May. “The program was never meant to replace qualified American workers, but it was instead intended as a means to fill gaps in highly specialized areas of employment.”
Yes, and every one of us needs to make a concerted effort to insure these two men (Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Alabama and Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa) are FULLY supported.
And, perhaps most importantly, that Sen. Orrin Hatch R-Utah (aka Judas) NEVER again sees public office.
Sadly, no one has commented on the other side of this issue. Namely within the IT departments themselves. I have been in IT for over thirty years and I have seen dozens of shops that start off with hiring Indian (from India) workers, and seen how over time they bring extreme racism and “caste-ism” into the departments. Management positions are given to higher caste members, and you are expected to respect the caste of your “superiors” just like in India.
I have been told on several occasions how Indian firms routinely bribe or “share” fees with IT and HR executives to be given exclusives on openings. Like everything else in America today, greed and corruption seems to rule supreme in every part or our society.
This is a good point. Most foreigners, particularly from the Subcontinent, do not understand or acknowledge our Western tolerance. They see it as a weakness to be exploited, momentarily, until they can push whitey out. Oh, and for those people believing in non-Caucasian solidarity power solidarity, Indians look down even more on dark skinned people. Tolerance is a Western phenomenon.
Being an unemployable software type with 3 decades of experience, I’ve studied the IT industry in-depth and the data does not support their claims.
Furthermore, contrary to the governments claims of creating 11 million jobs, I can only find about 440,000 as of 2014.
For any others in the shape, I’m in, please tell your story on the following map so that we can put an end to these lies.
Speaking of lies, I’ve also mapped all of the visa applications for 2014 and 2015 for the H-1B, H-1B1, and E-3 visas at Keep America At Work.
It makes for interesting reading and it will show you at a glance how much less the majority of jobs pay compared to what we got paid before we became unemployable.
You can find a link at Keep America At Work
THE STAR TREK ECONOMY
I was run through the IBM mill in the early 90’s, 1st as a contractor, then an employee, then contractor again… I wound up afterward in IT management jobs both for local and state government. That was going from the frying pan into the fire. Prudent IT policy and management decisions always play back seat to ideology and politics. The amount of taxpayer money wasted was astonishing. After 6 years trying to fight those battles I burnt out and left IT entirely.
I don’t pretend to understand much of the complex macro economic and monetary issues discussed on this site so I could be pushing on a string but I have yet to find any discussion of what seems to me is the root cause of this fundamental shift in how the world works. It seems that most folks think the demise of the middle class has to do with some mean spirited, selfish desire on the part of the elite to see if they can suck the wealth entirely from the proletariat. Is it really news that owners, stockholders, despots, dictators, politicians, and religious zealots will do anything they can to maximize profit? The game-changer here is technology itself.
1) U.S. (and other more affluent) economies are feeling the impact of labor available elsewhere at a lower price. Technology has been the catalyst for this. When I was at IBM, more and more of my project meetings were with teams in Belarus or Bangalore. We all thought that eventually, management might see how the cost savings were outweighed by the problems of time zones, dialects, etc. and reverse the trend but the truth is it was easier and cheaper to get rid of the U.S. workforce. Time zone problem gone! Moral of the story… in a world where location no longer matters, cheaper labor will always win.
2) Labor as a percentage of the cost of production (or service) is becoming smaller and smaller. Technology is replacing labor at an accelerating pace. For example, in our town, the police department spends hundreds of thousands per year in salary and benefits (including pension) for people walk the city streets collecting money from parking meters. Each one of them might be compensated an estimated 1.5 million dollars during the course of their career and retirement. The city is now replacing the manual coin meters with smart meters which allow you to pay parking with a credit/debit card or your smartphone. No need for people walking the streets anymore. The meter will even notify the manufacture when’s it needs service. Most of the thousands of folks across the U.S. walking around with those can’s collecting coins will be gone in five years or less. They will join the ranks of the “un” and under-employed. The manufacturing plants making those smart meters are largely robotic and the few people in the factory in China will be paid far less than domestic US factory workers. Net….. fewer workers across the world to accomplish the task of taking your money when you want to park in a municipal parking space.
You can take this one simple example and extrapolate it into virtually every area of our existence.
I don’t buy the position that a better educated workforce will insulate us from all this either. More smart education people needed to take care of all this technology… Moore’s law is still in effect. Computers are getting close to the point of being able to take care of themselves with no help from us humans (thank you very much). Witness the new slew of offerings in the web presence arena where companies are touting their platform’s ability to “write the website for you” based on your answering a few questions about your business and what you want done. Who needs designers, developers or user experience experts. God knows we’ve proven over the years humans are only successful at completing IT projects on schedule and within budget about 20% of the time. Artificial Intelligence will be much more productive once things reach the tipping point.
So what happens when the world simply needs less labor to create all the stuff we want/need buy? We get fewer jobs with less hours at lower pay. The owners of the businesses making all this stuff reap the profits of the big municipal contract to buy the smart meters (for example). Thus… the migration of wealth from the lower and middle class to the 1%. Things like increasing the minimum wage will only hasten the inevitable since it creates more pressure to replace labor with machines.
When the world needs only half the workers it used to, how does it deal with the surplus?
Somebody smart is going to have to come up with an alternative vision quick. We have to develop a different vision of what it means to be a ‘productive member of society’. Wealth is going to have to be redistributed somehow. Workers displaced by cheaper labor and machines will need to have something useful to do otherwise we’re likely to get a bit antsy. Oops! I guess that’s already happening?
When it costs less to produce things and your income is based on your ability to produce, your income falls to the point where you can’t buy things (mine’s declined 50% in three years) If enough people can’t buy things, society gets stressed and business go under. When enough businesses go under…. or the pitchforks appear, someone will find a solution. But… it’ll be a very different economy than conventional capitalism.
Too bad some really smart politician or economist couldn’t figure this out before it happens and propose a way to effect a soft landing.