We long ago stopped having to make everything we need: forging tools, handcrafting shoes from hides and weaving textiles for clothing. The expansion of global trade is affording us the opportunity to rediscover and reinvent the art of “making” itself, which could in turn profoundly impact what we make and what we trade.
Many industry observers are sounding alarms about the looming impact of automation, robots and 3D printing, which they fear will destroy jobs, disrupt value chains and maybe even reduce the need for international trade. But data and evidence don’t support the hype.
More than one-fourth of Americans work for themselves. There’s no stereotype. Independent workers are spread almost evenly across generations, gender, and geographies from cities to suburbs to small towns and rural America. Will you join their growing ranks?
Working class Americans have been unable to compete for jobs demanding specialized technical skills, while the places they live have been hollowed out by shifts in global supply chains and the death of low-skilled manufacturing. So long as these workers feel left out of the economic mainstream, they will remain a potent political force, including in the upcoming 2020 election.
An architect’s style and skill doesn’t always win the day when competing in overseas markets for services. Some trade policies are like scaffolding protecting local professionals, but some trade rules offer support beams that enable global talent to build the vibrant cityscapes of today and tomorrow.
Cambridge is a major hub in Massachusetts’ life sciences ecosystem. What makes up the DNA of vibrant biopharma and medical device industries? Trade associations, overseas governments and investors, and U.S. government agencies at the federal, state, and local levels are all part of the prescription for economic growth.
Technology has enabled us to tap into a global labor pool of remote workers anywhere in the world there’s a good Internet connection. 48 million workers registered their services on online outsourcing sites in 2013, according to the World Bank.
A community’s store of “social capital” can determine how well it rebounds from adversity.
Every year, between two to four percent of workers in industrial economies are “displaced” from their jobs. Those most likely to lose their jobs – the very young, the very old, and the less educated – are also the workers least equipped to manage economic upheaval successfully. Even in resilient and growing economies, these workers often need a hand to get back on their feet.
Studying the rise and fall of “company towns,” the lessons are clear. Place-based policies meant to resurrect declining areas are futile. Instead, leaders must not only invest in the people in their communities — they must recognize that policies to promote mobility will pay off.