The February payroll jobs figures released last Friday by the Bureau of Labor Statistics show a continuation of America’s descent into a third world service economy.
The Bush administration cheered the creation of 229,000 private sector jobs (which still leaves Bush with a net private sector job loss during his reign). However, once we look at the details, the joy vanishes: 174,000 of the jobs, or 76% of the total, are in nontradable services.
Administrative and waste services (largely temporary help and employment services) account for 61,000 or 35% of the new service jobs. The remainder are accounted for by construction (30,000), retail trade (30,000), healthcare and social assistance (27,000), and waitresses and bar tenders (27,000).
The US has apparently lost the ability to create high productivity, high value-added jobs in tradable goods and services. The ladders of upward mobility are being dismantled by offshore production for home markets and outsourcing of knowledge jobs.
The BLS reports that the number of employed US technical workers has fallen by 221,000 in six major computer and engineering job classifications during 2000-2004. The largest drops were suffered by computer programmers, followed by electrical and electronics engineers, computer scientists and systems analysts.
So much for the new economy that economists promised would take the place of the lost manufacturing economy.
America’s remaining job market is domestic nontradable services. While India and China develop first world job markets, the US labor market takes on the characteristics of a third world work force. Only jobs that cannot be outsourced are growing.
The Bush economy has seen a loss of 2.8 million manufacturing jobs, a rise in the unemployment rate of 1.2 percentage points, and a stagnation in real weekly earnings.
How bad will things have to get before economists realize that outsourced jobs are not being replaced? Indeed, many American companies are ceasing to have any presence in the US except for a sales force.
Cisco’s CEO, John Chambers, declared recently: “What we’re trying to do is outline an entire strategy of becoming a Chinese company.”
Cisco is establishing a new R&D center in Shanghai. The US corporation manufactures $5 billion of products in China where it employes 10,000 people.
That is just one company, and there are many doing the same thing. The result is abandonment of the American work force by American corporations. Little wonder the Bush administration is the first administration in 70 years to have a net loss of private sector jobs.
If one US company or a few move offshore, their profits improve and consumer prices are lower. However, when work in general moves offshore, American lose the incomes associated with the production of the goods they consume. Domestic production is turned into imports, with the result that America draws down its accumulated wealth in order to pay for the imports on which it is dependent.
The dollar’s value and status as reserve currency cannot forever stand the trade and budget deficits that are now part and parcel of America’s economic policy.
Unless there are major changes soon, America’s economic future is a third world work force with a banana democracy’s worthless currency.
PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is coauthor of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.He can be reached at: email@example.com