[This is the addended transcript of my regular KVMR commentary broadcast today 9jul14, two days early because this weekend the station is covering the World Music Festival from the county fairground.]
The Wall Street Journal is one of the remaining success stories in print publishing, this week celebrating its 125th anniversary since it was launched in 1889. Today it is a global multi-media giant with over 2.2 million paid subscribers to its print edition alone. They ran a huge section about what the future holds in their 8jul14 edition, having experts tell us what to expect over the next quarter century in everything from medicine, through personal technologies, to, of course the economy.
Hidden away in the middle of the big section was a little piece by Dr Larry Summers on the economic challenge of creating future jobs. You remember economics professor Summers, former president of Harvard, and former Obama Treasury Secretary? Well, the good professor has peeked into the crystal ball and seen that we have employment problems - trouble right here in River City. It’s not just a temporary unemployment rate or workforce participation rate problem that our so-called ‘recovery’ will hopefully fix. Nope, it’s the real thing – growing systemic unemployment across the land and into the future as far as the eye can see. Actually, Summers was a bit more circumspect in his description, after all the article did appear in the WSJ, which seems to shy away from un-rosy views of our long term financial futures.
Listeners to these commentaries and readers of Rebane’s Ruminations have been apprised for years about the inevitable growth of systemic unemployment as advancing technology lets employers substitute intelligent robots and software for human labor. But before going on, let’s understand what is meant by systemic unemployment, or as put more gently by the good professor, “Job availability is already a chronic problem in the U.S.” (more here)