Coffee heat rising

Where the jobs are…and aren’t

Tina, editor par excellence, sends along this interesting (not to say alarming) article from NPR’s Planet Money. Even though the recession is officially over, as NPR’s Jacob Goldstein points out, that means rather little for the suffering quotient. Eight million jobs have disappeared from our economy since December 2007, most of them in manufacturing and construction.

Many of those jobs will never come back. It’s hard to believe sectors like retail, real estate and finance, and transportation can absorb eight million workers, many of whom are tradesmen and not white-collar workers. The feds are hiring, but only because the federal government is spending itself blind trying to beat back a full-out depression. Compared to the number of jobs lost, the number of jobs gained in federal employment is a drop in the bucket.

Something called “private education” is growing, possibly, Goldstein speculates, because during hard times people go back to school in hopes of retooling for different occupations. But let’s consider what “private education” is: presumably it means proprietary schools. These outfits, as we’ve seen, will give you a degree without much education, and pick your pocket in the process. What they’re turning out would be hundreds of thousands of graduates with no better hopes of landing a job than they had before they started. The quality of such training aside, if eight million jobs are gone, where are those newly trained workers supposed to get hired?

The only sector that appears to show genuine growth is health care. We’re told this is because of the graying (and increasingly doddering) of America. As the baby boom ages and boomers’ health fails, demand soars for nurses, doctors, medical technicians, and the entire vast infrastructure that supports them.

Think of that.

We’ve gone from a nation that produces things to a nation that takes care of sick old folks.

Not that there’s anything wrong with taking care of sick old folks. Just that…well. It’s ominous.

Image: Men standing in a soup line. Franklin D. Roosevelt Library. Public Domain.