A slide on the WhiteHouse.gov homepage entitled “Strengthening the Recovery” features a presidential visit to Thompson Creek Manufacturing in Maryland. Obama visited this manufacturing company to highlight it as an example of job creation by his administration (and I’m an Obama fan);Â yet, in my inexpert opinion, it seems a bit short-sighted that the companies being touted as job creators remain those that historically created the most jobs.
But I must ask, as technological progress continues, why are we trying to recreate these “lost” occupations. Manufacturing was once a haven for jobs and economic vitality, but automation has replaced many (most?) of the base jobs. As populations continue to skyrocket, what is to replace this loss of jobs and what new jobs are being created to match the increasing demand? Recent work suggests that creative work will replace much of the procedural work of the last half century. (Near the top of my reading list is A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The Future.)
In the short term (til 2024 or so), my generation will replace the baby boomers as they retire. But populations are still growing; typically, each generation is larger than the one preceding it (except for the boomers, of course). How are all of these folks to be gainfully employed? How are they to meaningfully contribute to society?