Thursday, December 8, 2011

High unemployment rate, but...

Something strange is going on.  I grew up in the great State of Maine.  Back then (OK, maybe 'way' back then) some of the best jobs around were in the paper mills.  My father was a college professor, but many of my friends' dads worked in the mill the next town over.  And they made more than my PhD father did.  They lived well, provided for their families and were more than productive members of society.  But then a lot of bad economic factors started to reduce and often shutter the mills.  I bought into the conventional wisdom that we shouldn't even try to compete with Indonesia or wherever for those jobs.  Let them go for the lower wages, enjoy the cheaper products and put our hard workers to work in more productive jobs where we had the competitive advantages of large and concentrated capital and an educated work force.  Everyone made out despite the disruption because Indonesians brought up their standard of living and our workers made more money making, for example, jets which only an economy like ours could produce.  The Indonesians earned the money to buy and use jets, we got cheaper paper products and our workers made more money working at a higher level of skilled employment (more value added equalled higher wages).  Then I saw this article in the Bangor Daily News.  It basically said that Maine's paper mills were producing paper at all time high levels, but they couldn't find enough skilled workers.  With 9% unemployment rates.  Huh!?  I thought it must have been a local micro-economic quirk that lead to the phenomena.  It turns out, however, that this kind of headline is not unique.  Saw a more general article in the Journal not too long ago, too.  Makes me wonder if maybe the progressive elite that are governing us perhaps are buying a little too much of their own b.s. about the green jobs revolution.  Or shovel ready boondoggles for friends and fundraisers--I mean projects.  Maybe we should have just deregulated a little and provided some access to capital for companies that offered REAL jobs.  But then, they are smarter than me, so what so I know.

1 comment:

Borepatch said...

The education system isn't producing any skilled workers (or even slightly-more-than-unskilled ones. But fortunately, it produces a bumper crop of gender studies grads.