Thursday, January 17, 2008

The disappearance of blue-collar jobs is hardly news anymore, though Its Impact on micropolitan areas is often overlooked

This NYT story about blue-collar jobs disappearing from the Midwest seems to have attracted a great deal of reader attention. The phenomenon is certainly not limited to rural (or perhaps more precisely micropolitan) places, although Jackson, Ohio (population 6,100), featured in this story, is such a place. Journalist Erik Eckholm, who often writes about rural poverty, describes Jackson as "where the northern swells of the Appalachians lap the southern fringe of the Rust Belt [and] thousands of people who long had tough but sustainable lives are being wrenched into the working poor." The story also notes the "turmoil and stresses emerging in the little towns and backwoods mobile homes of southeast Ohio, where dozens of factories and several coal mines have closed over the last decade, and small businesses are giving way to big-box retailers and fast-food outlets."

While the loss of good blue collar jobs is no longer news in our country, this story serves as a reminder how rural economies are often harder hit by globalization due to their lack of economic diversification. The story also reminds us of the particular hardship on women in such economies. One woman featured in this story works two jobs -- one in the school cafeteria until early afternoon and the next until 10 pm at Wal-Mart. Like many women in rural and non-metro areas, she has had to take up work (or even double up on jobs) as her husband's earning capacity has fallen. Fortunately for her family, at least two of her four sons are grown and less in need of parental attention.


Anonymous said...

I don't think it's inherently bad that these blue collar jobs are disappearing. The reality is that we can't compete for labor (except in very local terms) with countries like China and India. The problem that I see is that there are few resources put toward job retraining. That's not just a problem for the sectors that are being exported but for the economy as a whole. If we want to maintain our economic dominance, we have to remain competitive. I wonder if we will see the same things that happen in other countries happen here - will workers eventually start leaving to go to other countries where the jobs are and then send home remittances? It's not a very American thing to do, but that's what happens when this sort of thing occurs in other countries. Of course, for now, our overall standard of living still remains very high compared to other places, but that's changing.

Padmanaban said...

Job trend has changed nowadays as most of them are looking for high paying jobs. There are lots of job openings since many companies are in need of smart employers with adequate knowledge