16 votes

Millions of jobs probably aren’t coming back, even after the pandemic ends

12 comments

  1. [6]
    dubteedub
    Link
    This was the most significant piece of the article to me: This could be a real opportunity for the Biden administration to help drive employment in our new normal economy. I hope that as Congress...

    This was the most significant piece of the article to me:

    The nation’s unemployed are starting to react to these big shifts. Two-thirds of the jobless say they have seriously considered changing their occupation or field of work, according to the Pew Research Center. That is a significant increase from the Great Recession era, when 52 percent said they were considering such a change.

    “We think that there is a very real scenario in which a lot of the large employment, low-wage jobs in retail and in food service just go away in the coming years,” said Susan Lund, head of the McKinsey Global Institute. “It means that we’re going to need a lot more short-term training and credentialing programs.”

    Indeed, the number of workers in need of retraining could be in the millions, according to McKinsey and David Autor, an economist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology who co-wrote a report warning that automation is accelerating in the pandemic. He predicts far fewer jobs in retail, rest, car dealerships and meatpacking facilities.

    One problem for many unemployed people is they lack the money to retrain. This crisis has put many out of work for nearly a year, and the financial support from unemployment and food stamps is often not sufficient to pay their bills. The stimulus legislation being debated in Congress does not include any money for retraining.

    This could be a real opportunity for the Biden administration to help drive employment in our new normal economy. I hope that as Congress considers a second reconciliation package later this year, that sounds like it will be primarily focused on energy, infrastructure, and climate , that they consider a strong workforce training component. As we look towards transitioning away from a reliance on fossil fuels and rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, we are going to need a vast new workforce to help make that happen.

    12 votes
    1. [5]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      That's interesting. I know that when I take my car to the dealership, they're already always completely swamped. Even during the pandemic. At one point my battery died (probably from not driving...

      He predicts far fewer jobs in retail, rest, car dealerships and meatpacking facilities.

      That's interesting. I know that when I take my car to the dealership, they're already always completely swamped. Even during the pandemic. At one point my battery died (probably from not driving enough!) and it was the same shit. Drop it off. Stand around for 20 minutes waiting for a tech to come by and ask what's wrong. Then wait 4-8 hours for a call where they tell you the problem. Then if you approve the changes (which are always more than you expect), wait another few hours to days for them to do the work. I can't imagine what it will be like if they have even fewer people working. It sounds like a nightmare for customers.

      I could see retail having fewer employees as fewer people go to stores to buy stuff. I've been avoiding going out as much as possible, even when things opened up at various times. I haven't had a hair cut or gone to a grocery store or a restaurant since March of last year. I have everything delivered. I've been loving it, frankly. I do like to go out from time-to-time, but being able to get so much done without leaving the house has been great. I plan to continue doing that after the pandemic is over. I mean I'll probably go to the occasional restaurant to eat, or go to the store for basics like food, but being able to have something delivered frees up a lot of my time.

      There was a related article recently on NPR that said that employers are having trouble finding people to work at in-person jobs, even when they offer higher pay:

      Data from the Labor Department this month, for example, showed job openings at a five-month high. Meanwhile, job search site Indeed said recently that job postings are back to pre-pandemic levels.

      The problem is that a lot of those openings are in industries that require in-person work, like construction, delivery services or warehousing — exactly the types of jobs now being shunned by many Americans in the midst of a fearful pandemic.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        EgoEimi
        Link Parent
        The NPR article is very interesting. I'd like to see a survey of which fields Americans perceive to be in demand and how much it aligns with what's actually in demand (and within reach). I suspect...

        The NPR article is very interesting. I'd like to see a survey of which fields Americans perceive to be in demand and how much it aligns with what's actually in demand (and within reach). I suspect that many Americans do not have good objective information about which job fields they can easily enter, relying instead on word of mouth and news. In the WashPost article, a furloughed 27-year-old amusement park worker watching Youtube videos to learn to code. Maybe I'm being a little elitist?, but I think that she is underestimating long it would take her to become remotely viable as a candidate.

        I read another article posted on Tildes about Apple CEO Tim Cook. It reported that Apple's contract manufacturer in Texas struggled due to lack of an industrial ecosystem and skilled workforce in the US. Whereas Chinese new hires often have experience at other factories, American new hires often had service or retail experience and lacked industrial and manufacturing skills that are common among Chinese hires.

        We have a lot of open and unfilled manufacturing jobs (apparently), and a lot of (working-class) people looking for work that's better and stabler than retail or food service. So, there are a few missing links:

        • Do people know that there are opportunities in manufacturing?
        • Are those opportunities located near unemployed people?
        • Do people know how to acquire manufacturing skills? Can they?
        11 votes
        1. teaearlgraycold
          Link Parent
          Like I say when people mention coding bootcamps - there's a reason that 4 year degrees exist for computer science and software engineering. You will definitely learn valuable skills in a bootcamp,...

          I think that she is underestimating long it would take her to become remotely viable as a candidate.

          Like I say when people mention coding bootcamps - there's a reason that 4 year degrees exist for computer science and software engineering. You will definitely learn valuable skills in a bootcamp, but you can't cut out all of the extra time spent learning in college + internships and call it even.

          10 votes
      2. [2]
        Nivlak
        Link Parent
        It seems like this is the turning point in history where AI will finally be integrated into those industries. No labor, no problem.

        It seems like this is the turning point in history where AI will finally be integrated into those industries. No labor, no problem.

        5 votes
        1. joplin
          Link Parent
          Well, maybe. I don't see how AI solves the problem of fixing my car, though. It might be able to do the analysis, but I think the problem I point out above has always been getting the car into the...

          Well, maybe. I don't see how AI solves the problem of fixing my car, though. It might be able to do the analysis, but I think the problem I point out above has always been getting the car into the bay to be analyzed in the first place. For most problems, they probably run a few diagnostics and have an answer in a few minutes. The bigger problem is all the people who have problems with their cars at the same time. How's AI going to fix that? More bays cost money and take up space, so you can't just scale up the physical part, even if you could eliminate the techs that are doing the analysis.

          6 votes
  2. Akir
    Link
    Coincidentally I just listened to an in-depth story about the conflict between the logging industry and environmentalists, which ended with a large number of loggers becoming laid off and the...

    Coincidentally I just listened to an in-depth story about the conflict between the logging industry and environmentalists, which ended with a large number of loggers becoming laid off and the remainders becoming cheap labor. The industry blamed it on the environmentalists and restrictions from the endangered species act, but the reality was that the changing market and, more importantly, the invention of new logging machinery both came into play, both of which meant that loggers just simply weren't nearly as needed as they used to be.

    We keep talking about automation taking over peoples' jobs like it's some futuristic thing, but this stuff happened in the 80s. It's happening now. We need to take action to prevent more families from being thrown into poverty because they are redundant to machines.

    10 votes
  3. Amarok
    Link
    I've been thinking about switching out of compsci myself. As much as I enjoy the technical challenges... if I don't have my hands on the hardware then to me, it's not sysadmin work. The industry...

    I've been thinking about switching out of compsci myself. As much as I enjoy the technical challenges... if I don't have my hands on the hardware then to me, it's not sysadmin work. The industry has become little more than clicking on toy icons on someone's crappy cloud service. When I finished building out a rack of servers at a data center or deploying a lab of machines at a company at least there was a sense of getting something done.

    I don't even think I could work at a google datacenter. The mere idea that a quarter of the machines are dead would keep me up at night, and if management wouldn't pay to get them fixed I'd replace them myself and donate the compute time to seti or folding or something. Maybe I've become too old to put up with modern tech if the standards are going to slip this much. I'm definitely not enjoying the work like I once did.

    6 votes
  4. [4]
    Rez
    Link
    I'm optimistic that the American economy will enjoy a competitive economic advantage thanks to our vaccinations, even if everyone doesn't take them. We'll be able to shed pandemic restrictions the...

    I'm optimistic that the American economy will enjoy a competitive economic advantage thanks to our vaccinations, even if everyone doesn't take them. We'll be able to shed pandemic restrictions the quickest. Israel and the UK should benefit as well given their high vaccination rates.

    5 votes
    1. [3]
      joplin
      Link Parent
      What makes you optimistic? I have the opposite feeling. I think I'm basing that on the fact that we've done such a poor job of following the current restrictions in most larger cities in the US. I...

      What makes you optimistic? I have the opposite feeling. I think I'm basing that on the fact that we've done such a poor job of following the current restrictions in most larger cities in the US. I think we'll open up too fast, just like we did the last several times, there will be no consequences of people not behaving, and we'll have another surge of the virus. That's happened several times, so far, including Father's Day weekend, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year, and I'd bet Valentines Day, but we haven't seen the results yet. I really hope you're right and I'm wrong, but I don't share your optimism, so I'd like to understand where it comes from.

      7 votes
      1. [2]
        stu2b50
        Link Parent
        That depends on what metric you refer to with "optimism". The parent post referred to economic optimism, and I share that optimism, especially if you assume the first stimulus package will pass...

        That depends on what metric you refer to with "optimism". The parent post referred to economic optimism, and I share that optimism, especially if you assume the first stimulus package will pass mostly intact. Even with the bungled COVID response, there were many economic indicators that fared far better than initially anticipated: durable good sales are up, household savings are waaaay up, GDP growth rate for 2020, although battered, fared significantly better than expectations.

        Given that, more stimulus likely on the way, and the vaccinations, I think it's fairly likely that there will be substantial growth in 2021.


        Now, if COVID cases, or deaths, are the metric, then I am not confident at all.

        8 votes
        1. joplin
          Link Parent
          OK, that makes more sense. I could see that.

          OK, that makes more sense. I could see that.

          4 votes