We’ve talked here about the demise of blue-collar manufacturing jobs in the US before: as automation establishes itself in industry and companies outsource their jobs to cut down on labor costs even more, Americans (and workers in other developed countries) find themselves with far fewer unskilled factory job opportunities. The revolution of the assembly line carried cities like Detroit on its shoulders, but subsequently dropped them to the ground once fewer workers were needed and cheaper ones could be found elsewhere.This may paint a dire picture of the future American workforce, but as we’ve noted before, innovation and emerging technology will help to open up new opportunities in America. The Economist also points out an interesting growing trend as well:
The wheel is almost coming full circle, turning away from mass manufacturing and towards much more individualised production. And that in turn could bring some of the jobs back to rich countries that long ago lost them to the emerging world.
3D Printers, for instance, can again make it economical to produce customized, individual products much like craftsmen and cottage industries did before the first Industrial Revolution. These new factories can also move back to rich countries because their labor costs are so much lower with fewer workers, allowing them to reside where their products are sold and react to that market more quickly.The demise of manufacturing jobs was not some cataclysmic Singularity signaling the end of a prosperous working class. To the contrary, new ideas are always aplenty—and preserving the Blue Social Model only works to hide the need to examine these new innovations and structures of the work landscape.