American Workers: Caught in the Jaws of Change

The 1987 report from the U.S. Office of Technology Assessment predicted: “During the next two decades, new technologies, rapid increases in foreign trade and the tastes and values of a new generation of Americans are likely to reshape virtually every product, every service and every job in the U.S. These forces will shake the foundations of the most secure American businesses” Well, it has been 35 years since the report, and the prediction has come true beyond imagination. Outsourcing, free trade agreements, the flood of foreign imports, the dependence on China and the rise of inequality have created massive change—particularly for American workers. The Reduction of Labor Costs In the early 1980s, U.S. corporations adopted a program of “restructuring,” which included reorganization to decrease cost and outsourcing jobs to foreign countries. The restructuring also included a big investment in automation, which began to eliminate blue-collar jobs. The introduction of personal computers and the internet also gave corporations the opportunity to eliminate millions of white-collar jobs. Only recently has there been some recognition from corporations of what this has done to the middle class. 

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