Those Jobs Are Gone Forever. Let’s Gear Up For What’s Next.

from freeCodeCamp

Manufacturing jobs were a huge part of America’s post-World War II economic miracle.

In the early 1980’s, 20 million Americans worked in factories, assembling consumer products like cars and appliances.

Well, what happened after that?

There are two narratives here. The shorter story arc is about globalization. American corporations moved all the old manufacturing jobs off-shore to relatively poor countries that still had OK education systems (like China).

This is the story that most people think of when they realize that, as of 2017, your average high school graduate can no longer own a home and raise a family on a single income.

But there’s a second narrative?—?one that arcs back centuries, to 1794 when Eli Whitney patented the cotton gin. This story’s plot is more complicated, and has quite a few twists that have yet to unfold. It goes something like this: technology keeps making individual workers much, much more productive than they ever were before.

And when one worker?—?with the help of a robot army?—?can do what used to require 100 workers… well, you don’t need 100 workers anymore. You just need one.

More here.

Posted in Careers, Social Responsibility, Technology and tagged , , , .


  1. For the most part, I have to agree with this article and what it is saying. These jobs which have been moved to poorer countries are the jobs of tomorrow and as a part of the general public we should understand that when politicians talk about these jobs, they are talking about jobs which, eventually, will no longer be manned by humans. This is where I agree with this article as well as their idea that we should take advantage of the fact that the job of tomorrow is coding, and that we have the tools to educate kids on it. However, I have to disagree with their idea to add this to the core of students’ education. As much as technology is a part of our lives, I think that making these kids learn code would have a negative effect on their education. We would have a surplus of coders and eventually a generation of kids who feel as though their only job is to be a coder. Instead we should encourage innovation and creativity all around. As much as software engineers and coders are needed, there’s a certain skill set that they must have. The best are able to adapt and change to the fast demand this field requires. I believe this is why there aren’t enough coders not for a lack of the education of it, that’s what college is for. Should students find that they cannot match this competition they will have to resort back to schooling. I think education in computer science and coding could be introduced in extracurriculars or electives, but I do not believe it should be “forced” on these kids. Entering into a career field and truly finding what you want to do is what college is for. Obviously, this is my personal opinion but, I think that introducing more technology education into education would stunt students’ growth in other fields. However, I do agree that we should focus our economic incentives more on education but, not only the education of software engineers. Rather we should take that money and help students go farther into their education so they’re able to help sustain the job market all around.

  2. As we have seen in recent years, many jobs are disappearing and they are disappearing fast. The majority of these jobs are manufacturing jobs. There can be a couple of arguments of why this has happened, globalization being one of them. another argument can be the rapid advancement of technology. I personally believe that it was the perfect combination of both that caused the decline of manufacturing jobs in the United States. With machines being able to do the work of multiple people and costing less than a person it was a matter of time before people were replaced with machines. I also believe that globalization played as a driving factor to move manufacturing jobs to countries overseas. Workers overseas are paid significantly less then workers in the United States, so I can see why this is appealing to many big corporations looking to make the most profit they can. With job loss being acknowledged it is time for younger people looking to come into the workforce to start looking at alternative ways to get a job since an entire sector has pretty much vanished over the last couple of decades.

  3. As we know during Trump’s campaign, he made the effort to get jobs back to the United States. Since many of the manufacturing companies were left to cut their costs by moving to Mexico or somewhere else. And it is true, many of the American jobs/products were being produced overseas. Even with the help of globalization, it has hurt the American people. It has helped many countries deal with manufacturing problems. NAFTA was a bill signed by Bill Clinton, to provide Mexico with American manufacturing jobs. Has hurt the United States economy. American jobs/products being produced overseas. With the help of technology, it even helps more to cut their costs. Companies now have machines doing the work of humans. As the article says, there are now machines building machines. Back then, everything was made by humans and only humans. By using machines to build products, companies can cut wages, insurance, etc. This allows them to generate more profits and invest in their company. I think it is very important for our generation to obtain an education. Since we do not know what the future holds for us. Here in the United States jobs are diminishing, even those that require a college degree. But with an education, we can have a sense that we may be prepared what the future could hold.

  4. The world has come leaps and bounds with technology and innovation within the past few decades, and it is obvious that the growth we’ve had thus far will continue into the future. While many individuals and politicians may speak of bringing manufacturing jobs back to the states, many also are realizing this era has passed. The United States used to be an industrial hub, but now it is a technology hub, emphasis on “used to be”. We moved forward and we have changed just like our country has since it’s establishment, and that is okay. While manufacturing could produce many jobs if we did bring it back, technology makes single workers extremely productive and those with advanced degrees, trainings or certificates involving technology that much more appealing and resourceful. While technology may sometimes need less people it is important to remember that we as a country may have just advanced beyond what used to be necessary. The example of China reducing their staff yet increasing their output 300% proves that we may have something to learn. Sticking to past ways may seem more humane, but in reality that means the jobs in different subareas may be growing so we are not fully eliminating humans from our operating conditions. Encouraging individuals to learn computer skills, coding, cybersecurity and more can provide ample opportunities to those who may have had their jobs replaced. Encouraging individuals across our country to take and learn these opportunities could help our country re-prioritize our overall goals for the workforce.

    There are ways our politicians and educators can even help to influence and encourage the future of STEM jobs/careers. This is by becoming educated in these areas themselves and provide ample teaching and hands on skills to encourage more students to desire to obtain degrees or certifications in STEM related fields. Prioritizing classes and teaching using technology in high schools would be helpful in introducing programming and in depth technical skills at a young age. Governments and State funded Schools/Universities can offer more in terms of financial aid to these students as well to encourage growth in the field. Lastly, companies who employee these individuals need to find ways to reimburse, or cover the costs of additional education or trainings for those already employees in the STEM fields to continue to remain successful and up to date with trainings. Encouraging the development of this field from the start can lead to higher quality tools and higher quality skilled individuals, all while the focus in STEM can become the norm across the US.

  5. Over the past thirty years, manufacturing has become a smaller and smaller portion of the U.S. economy. In the “Article Manufacturing Jobs Are Never Coming Back” by Ben Casselman, it explains job losses and the impacts that job losses have. The loss of American manufacturing jobs plays a role in the lives of everyone that is in the job force by affecting the demand for manufacturing workers directly and service workers indirectly. The U.S economy, despite being primarily a service economy, still maintains a large manufacturing segment, and faces many challenges regarding how manufacturing workers deal with various economic struggles, preserving high wages, and maintaining employment rates. International trade with lower wage countries such as China, and more recently the rise of automation in factory assembly lines have contributed to a decline in manufacturing jobs relative to the size of manufacturing output, indicating that the U.S. has become more productive, and requires fewer workers relative to service jobs. Remedies are available to manufacturing workers who have lost their jobs, such as the Trade Adjustment Assistance program, which will provide support and training for workers that can prove they have lost their jobs due to international trade. The TAA offers to pay for the people who lose their jobs due to trade disputes to go to school and get retrained so that they can get a job in a different industry on top of an unemployment style check for two and a half years.

    In the Forbes article; “Workers Harmed by Global Trade Need Help, Not Talk”, the writer discusses how Americans are used to hearing big promises from the government and big companies, and we just believe them. We assume they have our best interest in mind when that often is not the case. In the opening paragraph, John Brinkley states “you probably can’t count how many times you’ve heard this said: We need to do more for those that trade has left behind. And how many times have you heard someone say it, then offer an idea?” Brinkley believes that Americans need to be more active in policy rather than just accepting the empty words of politicians and company spokespeople. Brinkley continues on saying that the actions taken towards this issue are a good thought, but just simply not enough. Americans need to accept the reality that manufacturing jobs are gone and likely not coming back and that seeking higher education for a broader skill set is one of the main things someone could do to help their situation. In the meantime, Americans need to play a more active role in the policy that affects them.

  6. The revolution in the manufacturing sector is an interesting one in the sense that, while it contributed so much in increasing of jobs from the 1950s, it reached a point where it started contributing to the decline in jobs, despite the rising rate of manufacturing production. This is due to the advancement in manufacturing technology that led to invention of machines such as robots, and technology that would eventually transform most of the manufacturing jobs from being manual to being done by machines. The article has documented the advantage of this transformation, for instance the increased rate of efficiency and accuracy. In this regard, the article gives the illustration of a company that laid of 95% of its workers and adopted machines which contributed to 400% decline in the rate of defects.

    From my view, this transformation has both advantages and disadvantages. One of the advantages is that production levels by companies rise, efficiency rise, cost of production declines and hence the overall profitability of the manufacturing companies increase. The disadvantage however is the loss of jobs in the sector. However, this is mitigated by the fact that new types of jobs are being created. These includes jobs in the companies that make these machines, robots and the software needed to make them work. The only difference however is that these new jobs have a higher level of demand for special skills than the previous manual jobs in the manufacturing companies. It is a transformation that cannot be avoided and it therefore calls for everyone to improve on their level of special skills to be able to take advantage of this transformation and benefit from it.

Leave a Reply to Bojun Zhang Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *