Real unemployment in the U.S. today hovers around 8.3%, afflicting more than 17 million people. This is roughly equivalent to the combined populations of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Houston. Over one third of the working age population has given up looking for work.
On top of this, pundits project that many more jobs will be lost to automation in the near future, with computers and robots replacing as many as 49% of the jobs now done by humans. The mechanization of dirty, dangerous, repetitive, mind-numbing tasks should be a blessing. Instead, the future is described in apocalyptic terms. Why?
The problem is rooted in the disingenuous narrative we are fed. Jobs, so the story goes, are mysterious, ephemeral things, whose comings and goings are largely beyond our control. The number of available jobs has to vary independently from the work that needs to be done and the number of people available to do it, or so we are told.
There is plenty of work that needs to be done –converting our energy industry to renewables, repairing and enhancing infrastructure, building housing for all who need it, improving student-teacher ratios, increasing healthcare and eldercare staff, and so much more. And there are millions looking for useful work. The disconnect between people wanting to work, work that needs to be done and the number of jobs that happen to be available only occurs if the guiding principle for job availability is profit. But when…