Where are New and Well-Paying Jobs Going to Come From?

For the last few months- Political and other public figures in the USA have been making a lot of noise about “creating middle-class jobs“, “creating new jobs” and “bringing jobs back“. While the upcoming 2012 election cycle is the temporal cause of this sudden increase in expressed concern for the jobs and livelihoods of Americans is due to – I am going to use these fake expressions of concern to ask a real question-

Where are these new and well-paying jobs going to come from?

I mean.. don’t all jobs exist to create a product or deliver a service- regardless of whether it is useful, useless or harmful? You might have noticed that better machines, faster and more versatile computers, very high levels of automation, overseas slave labor and a host of other factors have made it very easy to increase productivity without employing more people. Employment in the US private sector has either stagnated or decreased since the late 1990s, even though the gross and working-age population has increased by more than a few million in that period. Then there is the issue about quality and stability of newly created jobs.

You might also have realized that inflation-adjusted wages for the vast majority of people has either stagnated or decreased since 1973. This has however not affected the still rapidly rising cost of medical “care” or “education” or a host of other big-ticket items. While the relative cost of certain items like laptop computers and clothes has decreased, one cannot live in a laptop or in a house made of cheap clothes or subsist on hamburger helper and pink slime beef.

So let me repeat the main question posed in this post-

Where are these new and well-paying jobs going to come from?

Remember that our system is largely based on jobs = money = existence, so no jobs or poorly paying jobs is equivalent to killing people. People who have nothing to lose will likely take those who put them in that situation with them- actively or passively. Moreover the demographic profile and distribution of power and technology in the world today makes it extremely unlikely that were will be any marginal victors, let lone clear ones, in a meltdown.

I hope that you realize that this problem cannot be solved based on previous experiences and beliefs because human beings have never lived in a world that was as populated, interlinked, interdependent, complex and peculiar as the one we have today.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. Grit
    January 28, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    I think that most college graduates will end up working some low wage service industry job: waiting tables, bartending, packing, loading, call centers, etc. They will probably live the rest of their lives jumping from one service to another


    You are assuming the continued existence of a civil and functional society based on what we have today, aren’t you?

    I think some will follow their chosen degree path faithfully. +/- 5 years of graduate school or internships, then licensure. They will either continue at their job or create their own business 10-15 years down the line. Figure 20 years total from today.

    I think the greatest potential for new jobs is college entrepreneurs who have hopefully accrued some spare funds, that can beg, borrow, and steal for more with the intent of starting a business immediately out of college. Estimate 5-10 years of dirt poor ramen-noodle eating. Eventually the internet will give them broad enough exposure, and as business starts rolling, they have about a five year head start on the office drone.

    How many new corporations are being made today? The business from scratch allows the college grad to be middle age and still scaling his business up to corporation size throughout his life.

    I have no idea if this is even possible anymore, considering the number of taxes and interest groups ready to jump down your throat. That’s the only potential for creating jobs I see.

    PS I think technology changes too fast for 40+ year old investors to keep in the loop and get excited enough to give money to start ups, so expect less nest-egg funds to be available- just means you have to starve a bit more.

    • Grit
      January 28, 2012 at 5:58 pm

      “You see, I am not from the working class. None of my ancestors had to perform physical work to make a living for least a few hundred years, or likely much longer. While they often did manual work for amusement and dabbled in new technology (a lot), they never had to depend on working with their hands to put food on the table.

      I therefore have a rather unique perspective on what it means to be born at third base.”

      Actually, I changed my mind. I’m not going to give anyone ideas. Feel free to rip my ideas off; I’ll see you in court.

      You can weep with everyone else who sits around scratching their head thinking, “I could have come up with that!”

      • webe
        January 29, 2012 at 12:50 pm

        > None of my ancestors

        This is a bald faced lie. 300 years is about 12,5 generations, that is about 5800 ancestors, not counting siblings and other relations. That all of these people lived from investments or professional skills alone seems a remote chance in view of social averages during historic societies these people would have lived in.

  2. Conquistador
    January 28, 2012 at 9:45 pm

    The future is bleak no doubt about that. People got by even in the dark ages though so the human spirit can rise to the challenge…..but we haven’t had so many forces converge at once either. These are interesting times.

    • webe
      January 29, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      > Even in the dark ages

      For most people the dark ages meant no longer being slaves in the Roman Empire.
      The dark ages is a narrative made up later, like the glories of democracy in Ancient Greece or the war on terrorism (or how 264 fanatical muslims in Waziristan living in clay huts in tribal backwaters have replaced Soviet and Chinese communism as the main threats to the western world — would have earned you a psychiatric commitment if you had raised the idea in 1988).
      Common, gear up, do some reading and stop repeating these simplistic templates of historical progress.

  3. Matt Strictland
    January 28, 2012 at 11:46 pm

    My guess is that there will be very few good paying jobs, period, now that the industrial age is gone. A few entrepreneurs and a few scam artists will do well as will a few people with highly specialized skills. Everyone else will just suck it. This is a return to the normal historical pattern.

    How this will play out is another story, it could end up with a massive “Arab Spring” on a global scale, chronic unrest or any number of genocidal scenarios on either side.

    a few possibles with likelihood in brackets. Combine as you see fit

    Social credit/welfare state to sustain the system (low)

    Social credit mixed with mandatory birth control, pay to spay ( low)

    Systematic automated genocide via various means (medium)

    Unrest and an attempt at a police state (high)

    Ignore people and let them die (high)

    Kill the rich for some religious or political ideology (medium)

    Total economic implosion (high)

    Depression till the oil runs out and a new dark ages (highest IMO)

    Human wide extinction or near extinction (low)

    Return to Populism and Ultra Nationalism (medium)

    and lastly for this list formation of a resilient hyper local post industrial community system with a high standard of living (medium)

  4. hoipolloi
    January 29, 2012 at 11:06 am

    Agree with what is being stated in the post by AD and the comments above. As much as they are coherent and logical, or because they are, the above possibilities may not manifest as expected. In my lifetime of a few decades watching world events, societal future is very difficult to predict. American defeat in Vietnam, fall of Berlin Wall, fall of communism, breaking up of Soviet Russia or a colored person becoming the President so early in the U.S were not predicted by the best of us.

    How about a mini-nuclelar-holocaust, a nuclear winter happening to divert people’s attention?

  5. webe
    January 29, 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Current western society faces devolution, that is, reverting to less complex and specialized organization. In America this will involve more and more fascism — a development presaged by the gated communities that first emerged during the good old Ronnie Reagan times, a pivotal moment in history when American society decided to prefer make-belief to reality. What social tension and global resource competition will lead to is unpredictable — the world will become less predictable and stable at the individual and at the global level. How soon or whether this will lead to a new plateau of stable civilization and how humane this will turn out to be is impossible to extrapolate. It will not be a picnic.

  6. hoipolloi
    January 29, 2012 at 7:40 pm

    @Webe
    “This is a bald faced lie. 300 years is about 12,5 generations, that is about 5800 ancestors, not counting siblings and other relations. That all of these people lived from investments or professional skills alone seems a remote chance in view of social averages during historic societies these people would have lived in.”

    Webe, may I respectfully suggest you reconsider your opinion. I am a native of southeast part of India and I can fully vouch and corroborate what AD said regarding the way his ancestors(Brahmins) lived in the last few hundred years. These are endogamous communities centered around temple life and kings court, as administrators, village land tax collectors, clerks in offices, literary, music teachers, scholars etc. There are temple offerings to live on in addition to royal patronage. They do not have to soil their hands. That is how Brahmins lived throughout known history of India. They still do so now to a large extent. Say the 5,800 people you are referring to are gainfully employed as white collar workers and temple priests. It is not difficult to imagine. I commend AD for telling it like it is.

    • Webe
      January 30, 2012 at 10:05 am

      Point granted, I didn’t realize Grit was quoting AD with his caste background.

  7. snooze
    January 30, 2012 at 7:12 am

    more news some what related to your posts

    UK workers earn £60bn less a year than they did 30 years ago:
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/world/2012/0130/1224310943937.html

    • February 13, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      This Irish Times article refers to an increase in the distribution of income.
      This is a bit of a red herring.

      “Real” prices relate to the individual’s access to not only the necessary staples of food, shelter and clothing, but also to access to many other goods and services.
      Which, if they even existed 30 years back, are of far greater sophistication.

      Just as some concrete examples, admittedly from 60 rather than thirty years back.

      In my youth, in England, a television set, black & white, around 12″ cost something like an average person’s annual income.
      Air travel was mostly only affordable by the middle classes, and still rather primitive.
      As were land-line phones. Mobile phones and household computers were still for may years undreamed of. (Except for a few visionary fools like me)
      Indoor toilets were still a luxury for the relatively well heeled and our bath was a tin tub.

      Get my drift?

      Check out chapter 6 of “Unusual Perspectives” for a very unorthodox view of “prices” that is based in physics and biology. The e-book is a free download.

  8. February 13, 2012 at 6:54 pm

    A very perceptive article, Dissention.

    However, I think you grossly underestimate the genetic component.

    After all, you yourself remark that “Humans beings are such conformists precisely because group membership was linked to survival itself- for most of human history.”

    Now, “survival itself” is quite strongly related to reproductive success and gene propagation, would you not agree? And provides the required evolutionary selection pressure.

    That is not to say that the remarkable and unique imaginatory capacity of our species plays no part.

    Indeed, imagination modulates all aspects of human behavior. Even such things as our unusual potential for such exquisite joy of mating, Ain’t we the lucky ones?

    Another consideration which can be added is the importance of warfare in group bonding.
    As the species has become less warlike, the reduced contribution of this component has also favored the dissolution or dispersion of the group and favored atomicity.

    For a wider take on such matters you might like to check out my last book, an informal and very broad take on evolutionary processes, “The Goldilocks Effect: What Has Serendipity Ever Done For Us?” It is a free download in e-book formats from the “Unusual Perspectives” website

  1. February 3, 2012 at 10:00 am
  2. February 5, 2012 at 2:01 am

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