The Associated Press recently moved a provocative series about the changing landscape for jobs in the United States. It made a good case that middle-class jobs eliminated by technology and the recession aren't coming back.

This is not the first time to hear such dire warnings. Imagine the fuss in the horse carriage industry 100 years ago as it tried to compete with the fledgling automobile. More recently, the typewriter vanished after being conquered by the personal computer.

Generally, a disruptive improvement such as the automobile winds up creating more jobs than it eliminates. Historically, such changes have been good for the economy.

However, the AP report indicates that this time may be different due to the rapid improvement in computer software that allows machines to do more jobs with greater accuracy.

Another difference is that a lot of the jobs being eliminated, such as an accountant or office manager, involve a college degree. So far, the recent improvements in technology are eliminating more jobs than they are creating.

The statistics bear out this argument. The United States lost 7.5 million jobs in the recession that started in late 2007. So far, only 3.5 million jobs have been created, but few of them in the so-called "mid-skill, mid-pay" category. Most new jobs are in lower-paying, lower-skill categories. ...

The AP report is informative because it addresses a subject that politicians were unwilling to in last year's elections. It's easy to say that all the jobs are going to China, but a more accurate answer is that some of them are not going anywhere.


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They're just disappearing. ...

The Greenwood (Miss.) Commonwealth, Feb. 7

"No deal, no break" and "no budget, no pay" proposal for Congress to get job done

Congress likes to impose draconian consequences the fiscal cliff, sequestration, national default on itself, and unfortunately on the rest of us as well, for failing to do what it's supposed to do.

The latest such gimmick is the "no budget, no pay" proviso. The idea is that none of the lawmakers will get a paycheck until both the House and Senate pass a budget this year. For the senators, it's not an idle threat because they haven't passed a budget in four years.

But the threat is somewhat mitigated because so many members of Congress are wealthy enough that they can get along without their government paycheck and, besides, they get all the money back at the end of the congressional session. No member will starve.

However, David Walker, a former U.S. comptroller general who leads the nonprofit Comeback America Initiative, has come up with a promising proposal to get the solons to do their work: "No deal, no break."

The public is generally unaware how much time off Congress takes. Walker notes it plans to adjourn for the equivalent of a full month this spring while we confront at least two critical deadlines: March 27, when the government faces a shutdown if temporary funding resolutions aren't renewed, and May 19, when the debt ceiling will rise. And the fiscal 2014 budget must be taken up whenever President Barack Obama sends his budget along. Plus, the lawmakers take a week off for every federal holiday and virtually all of August. ...

... "The premise is simple," Walker says. "Stay in Washington and do your job and strike a meaningful fiscal deal that can restore fiscal sanity. And until that happens, don't recess."

Working at a job until it's finished what a novel concept.

The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn., Feb. 11