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Anorak | We have not been exporting manufacturing Jobs – it’s the machines, dummy

We have not been exporting manufacturing Jobs – it’s the machines, dummy

by | 5th, July 2012

WE have not been exporting manufacturing jobs. Richard Sennett, a professor of sociology at LSE and professor of social science at MIT, writes in the Guardian:

It’s no mystery why Europe is short of work. Save on its northern rim, Europe 30 years ago began exporting manufacturing jobs to other parts of the world

I do worry about the old Alma Mater at times you know. This is one of the senior professors at the place I did my economics degree. And it is difficult to be more wrong than this and still have the intellect to walk and fart at the same time.

For we have not been exporting manufacturing jobs. For a start, how do you pack them? Do they spoil en route maybe?

It is true that we have fewer manufacturing jobs in the UK than we used to: yes indeedy. But Germany has fewer manufacturing jobs than it used to, so does France, the US and so on. Even bloody China has fewer manufacturing jobs than it used to. In fact, the world has fewer manufacturing jobs than it used to and this isn’t because we’re exporting them all to Mars.

It’s because we are replacing human labour with machines. Just as we did in agriculture a century ago: rising labour productivity simply means that we need fewer workers to do these tasks.

What irks about this is that if you misidentify the problem then you’re obviously going to come up with the wrong solution. If you think that we’re exporting jobs then you’ll try something stupid like trade restrictions, or subsidies to domestic manufacturers.

If it’s that manufacturing  jobs are simply disappearing because of technology then the solution is quite different: probably, just stop worrying about it.



Posted: 5th, July 2012 | In: Money Comments (2) | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink