The death of work?

Nov 11 2009 by Brian Amble Print This Article

When the economy bounces back, will jobs start to grow again, too? We all hope that the answer will be "yes", but there's a real fear, as articulated in this piece from the New York Times, that this recession marks the point at which the business cycle in some developed economies (notably the U.S.) no longer replenishes the jobs it has destroyed, raising the alarming prospect of a long-term shortage of work.

As for why this might occur, take this example, as cited here.

Or consider American icon General Motors. GM's sales in China are rocking. In the first nine months, the company sold 1.3 million cars in China, including more than 181,000 in September. By contrast, GM in the United States in the first nine months sold 1.5 million cars in the United States, down 36.4 percent from the year before. And in September, GM sold just 156,673 cars in the United States. That growth in China is good for GM's shareholders and for some of its executives. But since most of the cars sold in China are produced there, with parts produced by suppliers in China, rising sales in the Middle Kingdom won't translate into jobs for unionized workers in the Middle West.

That might not bother GM's shareholders or executives in the short term. But they might care to muse on what sort of economy Ė and society - they wish to see in a decade or so. Because a society without meaningful work for millions of people won't be a healthy one.