85% of job loss in manufacturing due to automation; only 13% due to trade

Page 2 - Seeking answers? Join the AnandTech community: where nearly half-a-million members share solutions and discuss the latest tech.

woolfe9998

Lifer
Apr 8, 2013
16,189
14,102
136
Thank you
We've all seen manufacturing jobs go overseas. I don't find it particularly relevant that new factories use automation more.
Its a good discussion but off the top of my head I can think of 3 people impacted by a factory moving and none replaced by a machine.

It doesn't matter one bit whether you know 2 or 3 people affected or not affected by this or that.

The article makes a valid point which I've made several times myself. Employment in manufacturing was declining for decades before the US entered into any free trade agreements. Also, why has total manufacturing increased in real dollars over time, just as total manufacturing jobs have declined? More output, higher dollar value, fewer jobs. Hmm.

I have yet to see anyone taking your position who is able to address either of those points. Personal anecdotes won't do.
 
Last edited:

woolfe9998

Lifer
Apr 8, 2013
16,189
14,102
136
Remember when they told us that automation & computers would give us more "leisure time"?

They forgot to tell us how working people who don't get to work are supposed to pay the bills & feed the kids...

This really is an astoundingly wealthy society. We just need to figure out better ways to share that, to make it work for everybody.

Don't look to the Job Creators. If they wanted it to be different, it would be. If we the people really want it to be different we'll need to use the power of govt to make it that way.

It's pretty clear that automation will eventually force us into an economic paradigm shift. In the long run, jobs lost to automation will not be made up for in other sectors. But automation improves productivity, which in effect increases the size of the "pie." A larger pie, but fewer people working, so fewer people getting a piece of it? If half the adult population can't find work because machines are doing virtually everything that a person of average IQ or less can do, what shall we do? Let them starve? Conservatives will fight it kicking and screaming, but more robust safety nets are inevitable.
 

agent00f

Lifer
Jun 9, 2016
12,203
1,242
86
All funny because it's true jokes aside, the decline in certain parts are due to china buying/making tractors to automate agriculture, which in turn frees up a large labor force competing to make relatively simple things like clothes/toys/etc, which in turn forces americans to find something better to do, such is capitalism. Some don't/can't, and some find trump, such is life.

It's pretty clear that automation will eventually force us into an economic paradigm shift. In the long run, jobs lost to automation will not be made up for in other sectors. But automation improves productivity, which in effect increases the size of the "pie." A larger pie, but fewer people working, so fewer people getting a piece of it? If half the adult population can't find work because machines are doing virtually everything that a person of average IQ or less can do, what shall we do? Let them starve? Conservatives will fight it kicking and screaming, but more robust safety nets are inevitable.

Presumably the meatier dummies will get hired to fend off the scrawny ones, or get fed to them, whichever works.
 

werepossum

Elite Member
Jul 10, 2006
29,873
463
126
In a related story, China became a manufacturing superpower by selling 85% to space aliens and only 13% to Americans.

Someone with enough brain cells might consider investigating the curves of American manufacturing versus American manufacture consumption. You folks that believe the OP's article, just be cool and don't strain yourself.
 

woolfe9998

Lifer
Apr 8, 2013
16,189
14,102
136
In a related story, China became a manufacturing superpower by selling 85% to space aliens and only 13% to Americans.

Someone with enough brain cells might consider investigating the curves of American manufacturing versus American manufacture consumption. You folks that believe the OP's article, just be cool and don't strain yourself.

Glib, as usual. Yet you still aren't addressing why manufacturing jobs as a share of total jobs started to decline in the 1960's, while our first big free trade agreement was in 1994, and offshoring to China didn't start until 1979, and not in a big way until at least the mid 80's. I don't know about the precise numbers given in the OP's article, and I doubt there is a precise way to calculate it. Nonetheless, the timing isn't right for this being all about the off-shoring. And also you have the phenomenon of output increasing while jobs decline, which speaks directly to automation.
 

Starbuck1975

Lifer
Jan 6, 2005
14,698
1,909
126
Automation still creates other jobs. It doesnt create american jobs if the factories are in China or Mexico.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
85,042
49,838
136
Automation still creates other jobs. It doesnt create american jobs if the factories are in China or Mexico.

Automation overall decreases jobs, that's the whole point. The whole autarky movement that has arisen on the extreme left and right is unfortunate.
 

Jhhnn

IN MEMORIAM
Nov 11, 1999
62,365
14,681
136
In a related story, China became a manufacturing superpower by selling 85% to space aliens and only 13% to Americans.

Someone with enough brain cells might consider investigating the curves of American manufacturing versus American manufacture consumption. You folks that believe the OP's article, just be cool and don't strain yourself.

Blame anybody but the sacred jerb creators, right?

http://www.worldstopexports.com/chinas-top-import-partners/
 

Exterous

Super Moderator
Jun 20, 2006
20,440
3,555
126
CATO @ Liberty - Have Trade Agreements Killed the Manufacturing Sector?

Yes, it’s true – fewer people work in manufacturing today than in the past. Peak U.S. manufacturing employment was 19.4 million workers in 1979, but has generally trended downward since then. Today only around 12 million people work for manufacturers, a decline of roughly one third over the past 35 years. Productivity has risen so much that many fewer workers now produce many more manufactured products.

A recent study by the Center for Business and Economic Research at Ball State University found that trade has had some effect on manufacturing employment. Researchers estimate that approximately 13 percent of manufacturing job losses have been due to trade. But the dominant factor has been productivity growth, which accounted for 85 percent of the employment decline. (Robots and computers ate the jobs.) So imports bear a relatively small degree of responsibility for the reduction in manufacturing employment, but take a large share of the blame from politicians.

While trying to find the article I did see someone say that their study only looked at 2000-2010 for the trends so it seems boardering disengenuious to have one paragraph talking about a 1/3 decline over 35 years and then in the paragraph below say that a study says 13% of the decline is from trade without mentinoing the years the study covers.

Does anyone actually know where the study is? I'd be interested in reading it but all I can find are links pointing to the same 1-2 articles saying a generic "a recent study". I even tried skimming the recent publications on BSU's website without success but maybe I'm just missing it somewhere.

http://cms.bsu.edu/academics/centersandinstitutes/bbr/currentstudiesandpublications
 

Bitek

Lifer
Aug 2, 2001
10,676
5,238
136
Automation overall decreases jobs, that's the whole point. The whole autarky movement that has arisen on the extreme left and right is unfortunate.

Automation still creates other jobs. It doesnt create american jobs if the factories are in China or Mexico.

True. Back to my IRL example, the bigger production lines come with a modest number of material handlers to feed the machine (low value labor), but the most critical jobs are those in the engineering and mechanic pools which design and maintain the machines (high value.)

There is not a 1:1 replacement of the material handlers to engineers, but that's the point. The value of the engineers comes from being able to replace the work of many low skill operations/workers. Their skills bring a much higher salary, and frankly rewarding work/lifestyle.

Does anyone really want to screw caps on bottles at a high pace for 12 hrs a day? Day after day after day?

No. It's horrendous work. The only people who take these jobs are those with no better options, and even then there are high turn over rates and inconsistent quality of outputs. Letting robots do it is a kindness.
 

Jhhnn

IN MEMORIAM
Nov 11, 1999
62,365
14,681
136
True. Back to my IRL example, the bigger production lines come with a modest number of material handlers to feed the machine (low value labor), but the most critical jobs are those in the engineering and mechanic pools which design and maintain the machines (high value.)

There is not a 1:1 replacement of the material handlers to engineers, but that's the point. The value of the engineers comes from being able to replace the work of many low skill operations/workers. Their skills bring a much higher salary, and frankly rewarding work/lifestyle.

Does anyone really want to screw caps on bottles at a high pace for 12 hrs a day? Day after day after day?

No. It's horrendous work. The only people who take these jobs are those with no better options, and even then there are high turn over rates and inconsistent quality of outputs. Letting robots do it is a kindness.

Only if other ways are found for the displaced workers to participate in the economy. That & extremely lopsided distribution of income are why we're so desperately hooked on "growth".
 

SMOGZINN

Lifer
Jun 17, 2005
14,218
4,446
136
Does anyone really want to screw caps on bottles at a high pace for 12 hrs a day? Day after day after day?

No. It's horrendous work. The only people who take these jobs are those with no better options, and even then there are high turn over rates and inconsistent quality of outputs. Letting robots do it is a kindness.

No, but they like to eat, have shelter, and a few luxuries. Few work because they want to, and none work low level jobs for fun. Your argument is the modern equivalent of 'let them eat cake'.
 

SMOGZINN

Lifer
Jun 17, 2005
14,218
4,446
136
It's pretty clear that automation will eventually force us into an economic paradigm shift. In the long run, jobs lost to automation will not be made up for in other sectors. But automation improves productivity, which in effect increases the size of the "pie." A larger pie, but fewer people working, so fewer people getting a piece of it? If half the adult population can't find work because machines are doing virtually everything that a person of average IQ or less can do, what shall we do? Let them starve? Conservatives will fight it kicking and screaming, but more robust safety nets are inevitable.

I doubt that robust safety nets are enough. That is just a new version of feudalism. What we need instead is a full buy in of the automation process. Basically it comes back to a really old idea, the people must own the means of production. I think we can find a new hybrid system that combines the best of both communism and capitalism. Employee owned companies seem to be a model worth looking at for the future.
 

Jhhnn

IN MEMORIAM
Nov 11, 1999
62,365
14,681
136
I doubt that robust safety nets are enough. That is just a new version of feudalism. What we need instead is a full buy in of the automation process. Basically it comes back to a really old idea, the people must own the means of production. I think we can find a new hybrid system that combines the best of both communism and capitalism. Employee owned companies seem to be a model worth looking at for the future.

Or the people taking their share out the back end, as taxes, using that to pay for all kinds of things for all kinds of people. Bigger govt, the antithesis of failed trickle down economics.
 

agent00f

Lifer
Jun 9, 2016
12,203
1,242
86
I doubt that robust safety nets are enough. That is just a new version of feudalism. What we need instead is a full buy in of the automation process. Basically it comes back to a really old idea, the people must own the means of production. I think we can find a new hybrid system that combines the best of both communism and capitalism. Employee owned companies seem to be a model worth looking at for the future.

I'm sure actual socialism will play well with the crowd preoccupied with calling everything they perceive as bad socialism.
 

Ns1

No Lifer
Jun 17, 2001
55,414
1,574
126
Employee owned companies seem to be a model worth looking at for the future.

The legal framework for these types of companies already exist and are common in industries such as accounting and legal.
 

SMOGZINN

Lifer
Jun 17, 2005
14,218
4,446
136
Or the people taking their share out the back end, as taxes, using that to pay for all kinds of things for all kinds of people. Bigger govt, the antithesis of failed trickle down economics.

It sure seems that these institutes are starting to fail us. As the power is being more concentrated in just a small percentage of the people at the top those people are starting to realize that they have no real need for the bottom. Since that top percentage controls the government they are effective at insulating themselves from having to pay those taxes. Slowly they are leeching away the base to pay those taxes.

I'm sure actual socialism will play well with the crowd preoccupied with calling everything they perceive as bad socialism.

I'm thinking we need to rebrand socialism! I'm thinking that the term Distributed Capitalism will go over better.
 
  • Like
Reactions: TeeJay1952

Jhhnn

IN MEMORIAM
Nov 11, 1999
62,365
14,681
136
It sure seems that these institutes are starting to fail us. As the power is being more concentrated in just a small percentage of the people at the top those people are starting to realize that they have no real need for the bottom. Since that top percentage controls the government they are effective at insulating themselves from having to pay those taxes. Slowly they are leeching away the base to pay those taxes.



I'm thinking we need to rebrand socialism! I'm thinking that the term Distributed Capitalism will go over better.

From an article you might appreciate-

From above comes the plutocratic insurgency, in which globalized elites seek to disengage from traditional national obligations and responsibilities. From libertarian activists to tax-haven lawyers to currency speculators to mineral-extraction magnates, the new global super-rich and their hired help are waging a broad-based campaign to limit the reach and capacity of government tax-collectors and regulators, or to manipulate these functions as a tool in their own cut-throat business competition.

The Twin Insurgency - The American Interest
 

Vic

Elite Member
Jun 12, 2001
50,420
14,322
136
There are millions of high-paying job openings in the US right now. Employers can't find enough qualified applicants to fill them all.
'Qualified,' of course, being the real problem here.
 

fskimospy

Elite Member
Mar 10, 2006
85,042
49,838
136
There are millions of high-paying job openings in the US right now. Employers can't find enough qualified applicants to fill them all.
'Qualified,' of course, being the real problem here.

I don't buy this argument. If there are so many high paying job openings that can't be filled then why aren't wages for these positions skyrocketing as businesses compete for these workers? As best as I can tell that's happening with software and web developers to an extent, but otherwise I'm not seeing it.
 

Vic

Elite Member
Jun 12, 2001
50,420
14,322
136
I don't buy this argument. If there are so many high paying job openings that can't be filled then why aren't wages for these positions skyrocketing as businesses compete for these workers? As best as I can tell that's happening with software and web developers to an extent, but otherwise I'm not seeing it.
Those wages are going up, despite corporate pressures to keep them down.
 

HamburgerBoy

Lifer
Apr 12, 2004
27,112
318
126
The problem is unsustainable population growth. Remove all programs that incentivize childbirth, enforce added taxes for those that have more than, say, 2 children due to the strain they place on the economy, free birth control everywhere, promotion of free abortions everywhere, and limit immigration to those educated and skilled. Stop excess labor. At the same time, kill the idea that education is supposed to be about "personal fulfillment" or whatever the hell people say. Everyone should learn basics of engineering and all hard sciences before graduating high school, if not earlier. Students that struggle with that should be quickly identified and put into electrician's, plumber's, etc trades, jobs which aren't likely to be replaced by automation at least for the next 100 years or so.
 

Vic

Elite Member
Jun 12, 2001
50,420
14,322
136
What industries are you thinking of specifically?
I'm in financial services, specifically credit underwriting and risk analysis.

IMO the 'skills gap' is by far the biggest problem in the US job market right now. I'm interviewing college graduates who can barely read and write or do basic arithmetic, and have no concept of logic and critical thinking. I don't know what they teach the kids these days, but it certainly isn't how to think or use their brains.
 

agent00f

Lifer
Jun 9, 2016
12,203
1,242
86
I don't buy this argument. If there are so many high paying job openings that can't be filled then why aren't wages for these positions skyrocketing as businesses compete for these workers? As best as I can tell that's happening with software and web developers to an extent, but otherwise I'm not seeing it.

I think he's just confusing "job openings" with actual jobs. In practice, many corps these days through Welch-style rank and yank or facsimile of are always "hiring" as a way of letting employees know they're expendable.

I'm in financial services, specifically credit underwriting and risk analysis.

IMO the 'skills gap' is by far the biggest problem in the US job market right now. I'm interviewing college graduates who can barely read and write or do basic arithmetic, and have no concept of logic and critical thinking. I don't know what they teach the kids these days, but it certainly isn't how to think or use their brains.

That's just how the interview circuit works, a lot of duds get recirculated, esp with rather lackluster recruiting.