The Tech Shortage Myth, Again
Growth is slow, unemployment is still high, and there are recurrent fears of a double-dip recession. There are many reasons for that, perhaps chief among them the deficit mania which is deterring government spending, but one of them popped up on yesterday's This Week with George Stephanopoulos (transcript, here). Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has been a huge Obama donor and informal Obama economic adviser, and now sits on the President's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology And he actually said this yesterday
Our industry is growing ra-rapidly. We are unable to hire the technically trained people we need. There are shortages not just in my industry, but in many technical industries. There are shortages of sophisticated manufacturing engineers in America because the sum of our educational system is not producing enough.
If I go back to the question of why is this recession different, there's at least two good reasons. One is the -ever-present nature of globalization is now much stronger, so it makes everybody more competitive. And also because of advances in automation are making it less needy to hire more people.
In our political system of today, this stuff is actually taken seriously- so seriously, in fact, that no one bothers to ask such Wise men what they mean when referring to "making everybody more competitive" or what the implications of that are. Nor is there much enthusiasm for questioning the claims that American workers are just not smart enough, though Dean Baker points to the headline "skilled workmen in Demand Despite Vast Unemployment."
That headline appeared in The Washington Post. In 1935. The sub-headline read "technological progress has been so rapid during the depression that welders and other experts, idle since 1929, are outmoded." Even back then, American workers were being blamed for awful economic times. And today, we still have the Establishment moaning about jobless and then blithely maintaining that their fellow Americans are responsible. There are shortages "in many technical industries," Schmidt says, just as others are claiming. But it's just not so, as this graph from economicpopulist.org (from BLS statistics) indicates as of 2010:
Economicpopulist.org helpfully broke those numbers down (emphasis theirs) by profession for the fourth quarter of 2010, the latest period for which such statistics were available:
Surely, few if any Republicans are any more concerned than the President about outsourcing, offshoring, and bringing to the U.S.A. foreigners to perform jobs Americans are qualified to perform. That is not only a problem short-term, but a larger one long-term.