Friday, August 12, 2016

A brutal indictment of job retraining

From the Wall Street Journal, an analysis of the counties in the United States that have been most hit by trade with China. The article focuses on North Carolina and the furniture industry and starts with this anecdote: 
Stuart Shoun, 59 years old, has been laid off three times since 1999. After one layoff, the Hickory machinist studied architecture at a community college but then couldn’t find a job and returned to the furniture industry. He makes $45,000 a year, the same as he did nearly 20 years ago and $14,000 a year poorer after adjusting for inflation.
The article goes into more detail on the industries devastated by the switch to Chinese manufactured goods in the United States, and then delves into the details of "trade adjustment assistance":
Government efforts for laid-off workers haven’t helped much. Washington’s formal program to retrain workers hurt by import competition, called Trade Adjustment Assistance, pays for two years of college tuition and extends unemployment-insurance payouts. 
A 2012 evaluation ordered by the Labor Department found that program participants, especially those older than 50, generally made less money four years after starting the program than those who didn’t sign up. The others went back to work more quickly. 
Mr. Shuford, Century’s chief executive, calls the job-relief program a “Band-Aid for an economy that has a sliced artery.”
I am broadly sympathetic to claims that trade is, on balance, good for the United States. But until we actually figure out how to help those who lose their jobs due to trade, I cannot blame my fellow citizens for being skeptical.  

7 comments:

  1. I think measured by GDP trade is for certain good for the country. Measured by GNH (Bhutan), I'm less clear, at least for those not at the top (cf. http://www.epi.org/publication/charting-wage-stagnation/, presumably the corresponding graphs for the PRC etc. are much rosier).

    Global trade is good economically for the world as a whole (and as an added bonus it decreases the odds of another world war), but equilibrating middle American standards of living with the PRC (or India or Somalia) is a zero sum game with the non-Americans as winners.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4tRqRafOqYU, President Bartlett eases the pain.....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. At least the second time I've seen someone post that bit of agitprop as if it explains something. Is it a real meme among the liberals?

      Delete
  2. "We will no longer surrender this country or its people to the false song of globalism."

    ReplyDelete
  3. The GOP (Guardians Of Plutocrats) is not going to become the Workers Party, regardless of what the orange-haired profit* says.

    * intentional

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, he's had such strong support from Wall Street, the Neocons and the GOP establishment it's easy to see the truth in the matter.

      Delete
    2. Plenty of other places on the internet to discuss the election.

      Delete
  4. Shades of gray, CJ, shades of gray. Good trade is good. Bad trade is good only for those who push bad (unsustainable, harmful, toxic, bad quality) goods on the rest of us.

    ReplyDelete