Deindustrialisation & Male Jobs

A whole lot of pundits are spending column inches trying to explain the cruel reality of the last forty years — stagnant wages for full-time male workers, and falling wages for men as a whole:

And there has been a huge outgrowth of men who aren’t in the labour force. In 1954, 96 percent of American men between the ages of 25 and 54 worked. Today, that number is down to 80 percent. That’s a humungous decrease.

The question is why.

Mainstream media pundits are suggesting that men are unsuited to the present economic landscape. The suggestion is that men have been bad at adapting to change, and that women have been good at adapting to change:

In The End of Men: And the Rise of Women, Hanna Rosin argues that changes in the world economy have dramatically shifted gender roles. Women have adapted more skillfully to the new socioeconomic landscape by doggedly pursuing self-improvement opportunities, rebranding as the economy requires it, and above all possessing the kind of 21st century work attributes — such as strong communication skills, collaborative leadership and flexibility — that are nudging out the brawny, stuck-in-amber guys. Rock steadiness, long a cherished masculine trait, turns out to be about as useful in our fleet-footed economy as a flint arrowhead. Life favors the adapters, and it turns out they’re more likely to be women.

Now two things have very clearly changed for women — access to birth control, and the end of the traditional social compact where women did housework, and men did wage work. In regard to the vast majority of expanding occupations today — teaching, medical services, bureaucracy — women no longer are at a material disadvantage due to their (on average) smaller size and lesser strength.

Overall, this has meant proportionally less jobs for men, and proportionally more for women.

But it’s not just that women have been advantaged. Men have been deeply disadvantaged. In sectors that due to physical characteristics men have traditionally been dominant in — manufacturing, agriculture, forestry, mining and heavy industry — there has been a vast decline in output-as-a-percentage-of-GDP, whereas in services — a sector in which men have not traditionally dominated — there has been a vast increase.

Yet it is not the case that there are less manufacturing jobs globally. As we mostly already know, this is a case of manufacturing and industry being exported overseas, most obviously to China. China manufactures, and America consumes. This is America’s trade balance with China:

This is reflected in China’s sectoral employment balance compared to Western nations, and the world at large:

So it’s not at all the case that the United States is cutting back on industrial jobs because industry is less in demand. The United States still has plenty of demand for industry. America has cut back on industrial jobs because it has the ability to run huge trade deficits, through the dollar’s role as global reserve currency, and shipped its manufacturing industry abroad. Other countries have required dollars for trade purposes, so have been more than happy to sell to the United States, making dollars and debt the United States’ greatest exports.

Yet the present paradigm has severely damaged the prospects of young men, for whom a generation ago jobs in industry and manufacturing were once plentiful. Quantitative easing led to a jobs boom — in China, for Chinese industrial workers. That doesn’t help the growing chunk of the male population in the United States who have been shut out of the job market by the rise of America’s Chinese addiction.

And it seems unlikely that the industrial jobs are coming back any time soon. Although there are reasons why America may soon import less from China — rising energy and transport costs, rising Asian wage costs, and questions of the dollar’s sole reserve currency status — there are plenty of places in Latin America with cheap and plentiful labour for America’s corporate elite to set up factories. Even the manufacturing jobs that remain in America will be under threat from increased automation and robotics.

This implies that barring a miracle, joblessness and stagnant or falling real wages will continue to be a significant and worsening challenge for young Americans, and particularly men, in the coming years.

45 thoughts on “Deindustrialisation & Male Jobs

  1. Pingback: Deindustrialisation & Male Jobs « Silver For The People – The Blog

  2. It would be interesting to also see how much government support predominately “male” and “female” jobs get. Both get a lot, but which one more?
    Anyway it would be great to have jobs market equalized by women getting more, not men less 😉 . Also, without force and coercion.

  3. A good thought-provoker, Aziz. Some thoughts:

    1. Isn’t what you call “America’s Chinese addiction” really American’s low-price addiction? This would imply some remedies to US deindustrialization (competitive disadvantage) — such as allowing further decline in politically-empowered union control over workers and employers, and REAL immigration reform to allow LEGALIZED immigrants to train for and fill good jobs.

    2. End politically-motivated blocking of fossil fuel exploration and production — to
    create more high-paying jobs, corporate profits, government royalty and tax revenues, plus (eventually) significant net exports over imports.

    [2nd line of next-to-last paragraph — I think you meant “import”, not “export”].

    • Thanks for correction! Amended.

      Low prices are assumed. Lowest prices will always win, but the prices would never have been so low if not for the dollar’s reserve status and thus continued global demand for dollars.

      You know oil industry gets a lot of subsidies. There is a lot of blocking of exploration and production. I think we need to have a free market — end the subsidies, end the blocking, let oil compete with solar (etc) on a level playing field (my view is solar will eventually win — in fact this is almost a mathematical certainty as quantity of solar is for all practical intents and purposes unlimited).

      • “Perceptual discrepancies” or political propaganda in someone’s “data” base ?

        What oil industry subsidies? Or is it tax “breaks” — “depletion allowance” available to all extraction businesses? Or expensing (not capitalizing) drilling costs?

        Level playing field?!? Obama has given/loaned/risked/lost a few billion dollars of public funds on non-competetive “renewable” ventures, even including some — believe it or not! — not going to “crony capitalists”. It’s (hopefully) too late for the anthropomorphic global warming scam or more Solyndra deals, but while we’re waiting for break-through solar efficiency (or ultra-high priced fossil and nuclear cost), maybe we should go for a government grant/loan/etc. for fusion power. There is lots of research to develop and commercialize — all we need are political contributions bundlers to make the deal.

        I think your first paragraph (your bag, not mine as above) explains that China’s cost advantage is exacerbated by macro currency/trade balance factors. But wouldn’t enhancing US cost-efficiency help?

        • William Browning:

          The American Chemical Society cites a report by Double Bottom Line Venture Capital that explains how the oil industry has reaped benefits from subsidies. From 1918 to 2009, the average annual subsidy was $4.86 billion. By comparison, the nuclear energy industry gets around $3.5 billion per year.

          When the study adjusted for inflation to 2009 dollars, the oil and gas industry received subsidies amounting to $1.8 billion per year in the first 15 years of the fledgling industry. The American Coalition for Ethanol estimates that when combined with state and local government aid to large oil companies, subsidies amount to anywhere from $133.8 billion to $280.8 billion annually from all sources of taxpayer aid that goes to the oil and gas industry.

          The Obama administration contends the oil industry no longer needs help. The three largest oil companies made $80 billion in profits combined in 2011, which amounts to $200 million per day. The White House also asserts America uses 20 percent of the world’s oil but only has two percent of the world’s oil reserves. Oil drilling continues in all areas of the United States and oil rigs are plentiful in the Gulf of Mexico, the White House blog states.

          The New York Times had an article dated July 3, 2010, in the middle of the Gulf oil spill. Deepwater Horizon rented the sunken rig to BP. The company used an oil industry subsidy to write off 70 percent of the cost of the rent for the rig which amounted to a deduction of $225,000 per day.

          Solyndra and lots of other things Obama has done have been scams, but alternative energy subsidies are a drop in the ocean next to the stuff the oil industry gets to write off.

          Personally, I want all energies to compete on a level playing field. No tax incentives or special rates or subsidies (e.g. ethanol) for any of them. Just competition and markets. Solar will be very competitive under those circumstances — and only well-run companies will be competitive, so we can finally put the Solyndra stuff to bed (that was just a badly run crony company).

          Also, energy independence is a matter of national security.

      • I would like to think your assessment here for future solar energy dominance would come true, but when you suggests unlimited potential for solar, what consideration are you using for scalability?

        • Decentralisation. Each property generates its own energy needs using its own photovoltaic capacity. The key is storage, but that is improving. I think graphene batteries can be a gamechanger.

      • ‘Decentralisation. Each property generates its own energy needs using its own photovoltaic capacity. The key is storage, but that is improving. I think graphene batteries can be a gamechanger.’

        I see. That’s a lot of capital investment for many small participants to make. How long is this transition and how are increasing energy needs met in the meantime? Do we not need a significantly different approach from the status quo for energy production while we get to that solar ideal?

  4. It was not necessary for us to turn from tariffs, protecting American factories, to free trade which replaced our domestic output with foreign made goods. It was an act of government, which enabled globalism to replace protectionism. An act of government can reverse the process. Tariffs worked for this country from the time of Jefferson to the time of Truman.

    After World War Two, our government encouraged our capitalists to build up their markets in foreign countries by investing within those countries. In most of those countries, if not all, Our government encouraged the develoment of the “joint venture” which brought a local class of managers and skilled laborers into contact with American managers and American management theory and practices. In the case of Japan, we were often out-done by the local talent.

    There is no reason -other than the obvious array of monied lobbyists which will be mobilized to oppose it- that our government could not do enforce, through tariffs plus other forms of restrictions, the return of industrial production and engineering activites back to this country.

  5. Some other factors to consider:
    – Early industry always preferred women over men when possible, due to women generally having more compliant personalities than men.
    – Government welfare for women with children promotes parasite males.
    – Higher wages for women promotes parasite males.

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  8. Some people think this is a deliberate attempt to destroy ‘the family’. Children raised in broken families are easier to control. Good strong families may raise children that are independent and not so easy to control. It is the brave new world…and as the above comments suggest wars will create more profits.

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  10. “So it’s not at all the case that the United States is cutting back on industrial jobs because industry is less in demand. The United States still has plenty of demand for industry. America has cut back on industrial jobs because it has the ability to run huge trade deficits, through the dollar’s role as global reserve currency, and shipped its manufacturing industry abroad. ”

    Are you sure? UK has similar high percentage of Services – and GBP isn’t anyone’s reserve currency…

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  12. Crying over spilled milk doesn’t get anybody anywhere. The horse has been out of the barn for forty years now and the damage has been done.

    People would still assume live in their fantasy worlds rather than actually deal with the problems because you basically have two choices now, sell-out [if you have that opportunity] or accept less.

    It’s pretty obvious who’s doing what, as the number of people actually willing to accept radical change in their lives is miniscule.

  13. Imp, there are many American quotes appropriate to our present situation, which you have so well depicted. But let’s start with Winston Churchill — ceded leadership only after all was thought to be lost because his warnings were ignored. [Keep in mind that Churchill’s (Tory) party leaders were ready to surrender; he and his government and the nation survived on support from the opposition party and, most of all, from the English PEOPLE].

    “Victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory no matter how long and hard the road may be; for without victory there is no survival.”

    “We shall not flag or fail. We shall never surrender.”

  14. We need to follow Jefferson’s line of thought regarding land allocation, promote male employment and liberty through small farms via land gifts. This is the Divine example of the Jubilee [Lev. 25]. The Monopoly game has been in play for over 200 years and like all Monopoly games, land has ended up in the hands of the few—all others must pay rent or go to jail.

  15. AZIZ of Sep 12 @ 00:30:00: Sorry, old friend, but you have confused and misled readers on the issues of oil “subsidies”, the extent (wide!) of Obama’s crony capitalism, US taxes and basic accounting such as what corporate profits are used for, ethanol from corn (pork barrel for farmers, not oil companies), etc.

    Maybe Buddy Rojek, Aussie tax accountant, or a US accountant can help. I’ll provide more after I finish looking at Obama’s peace-loving Muslim’s atrocities in Libya and Egypt. Meantime, please don’t spread any more Obama-NY Times disinformation.

  16. Men have been forced out of the work place by deindustrialization, and by a politically correct and heavy handed government that gave women unwritten entitlement to jobs that at one time were exclusively male (i.e. construction, police, fire and telephone lineman). The age of the subservient ersatz male (feminist) is here. Women will work for less and are easier to manage (threaten, manipulate, handle, etc.). However, one should consider, if a nation/ state is unable to manufacture anything and women don’t (or won’t) reproduce, that nation/state is doomed. Globalism and present day social movements are fraudulent constructs use to increase profits and dis-empower the labor force.

  17. Well with people not having as many children anymore and married couples divorcing, it forces women into the workfield. Interesting enough a majority of females would rather be stay at home moms, but the financial demands placed upon them are requiring them to work. Because they’re working, they just want the same rights and pay. This is understandable but it’s not right for the government to tell the business what it has to pay someone just because they’re female.

    • I agree. This is a big problem. In the past the child connected with the mother, family, community. Now the child is rushed off to day care. The disinterested carers and constant play and distractions of unruly playmates breeds a COMMUNE citizen.

      My mother had to work, but my Grandmother read to me. I read dinosaur and other scientific books at a very very early age. If I went to day care my reading skills would have been retarded and I would be blogging on instead of here. Thank you grandmother I made money because of you. here is a new mobilityscooter for you.

      But my mothers office phone based job is finally being outsourced overseas. Even female jobs are being made redundant by cheap labour. The irony is my father still has a job. they have not figured out a way to kill skin and cut up a sheep YET.

  18. I think women are good at certain jobs. I think they make great Accountants. Very good attention to detail. Can listen to clients. Are tactful. etc

    What does worry me is the Feminist movement with a particular axe to grind on men, for their own ideological agenda. This actually backfires on fair minded women. For example, many of these women are appointed positions of power, because they join women’s breakfast forums and other networking opportunities. Able men are bypassed because of unwritten “fraternity” rules.

    I am all for opening the closed boys club, but it must be done on merit, or it will backfire.

    That said, men’s roles are declining. The brawn of men has been replaced by machines and robots. The service and bureaucratic sectors are booming now, and women are a natural fit in these areas.

  19. BR, this is the problem with central planning. Your [nor anybody else’s] “central thinking” can not understand the market. Markets, for labor or anything else work best when capital is allocated based on actual need, not what some central planner thinks.

    There are infinite variables they play out. Men’s or women’s roles are simply a distraction away from the problem of broken capital markets and broken markets, in general.

    In a normal “free market,” new jobs would be created based on where ever technology/needs/desires lead. Otherwise, we would have run out of jobs long, long ago.

    Other than increasing productivity, technology is neutral. How could it be any other way?

      • I believe that the insurance companies made their $ billions $ in political contributions pay-off quite nicely.

        Health care is all about corporate profits in the good ole USA.

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  22. I love how White Men want “Free Markets” when nothing of the sort has existed around energy. Look White men that own NOTHING and you do own NOTHING otherwise you wouldn’t post here. Stop trying to create alternative markets so you make your millions, work with a community to develop local production of the goods needed by the community and to make a much more efficiency transportation and energy systems.

    Male unemployment is not colorblind, Black wealth is right back where it was at the end of slavery. This economic model as FAILED the vast majority of us.

    • I don’t agree with turning this into a race issue (as someone who is neither black nor white, that is to me at least an unhelpful paradigm) but more or less I actually agree with you.

      A “free market” is not something that has ever existed in energy. A viable course to pursue is not appealing to some higher force like government for a free market, but creating the outcome you want yourself or with your community, e.g. installing your own solar panels, or making your own ethanol from waste.

      On the other hand, we were having a theoretical discussion about what kind of solutions can produce desirable outcomes in energy markets. In that context, there is no doubt that freer markets will produce the outcome that the market (i.e. the demand preferences of market participants) desires, rather than the edict of some central planner.

  23. MLK said it should be character, not skin color. Free markets say it is qualification, not skin color. U.S. Democratic party, after controlling a disastrous four years for African-Americans, say vote your skin color; this includes government + union control of the essential factor of education, which has been dumbed-down for politics. Wise up!

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