Donald Trump has promised to bring back coal mining and manufacturing jobs. But a lot more jobs have been lost in the service sector. Consider what has happened in retailing. Paul Krugman writes:
Even as Mr. Trump was boasting about saving a few hundred jobs in manufacturing here and there, Macy’s announced plans to close 68 stores and lay off 10,000 workers. Sears, another iconic institution, has expressed “substantial doubt” about its ability to stay in business.
Overall, department stores employ a third fewer people now than they did in 2001. That’s half a million traditional jobs gone — about eighteen times as many jobs as were lost in coal mining over the same period.
As customers have switched to on line retailers, like Amazon, shopping malls have gone empty. The same phenomenon has happened in the newspaper business:
And retailing isn’t the only service industry that has been hit hard by changing technology. Another prime example is newspaper publishing, where employment has declined by 270,000, almost two-thirds of the work force, since 2000.
Why the focus on mining and manufacturing? It's easy to blame liberals and foreigners for the job losses:
Demagogues can tell coal miners that liberals took away their jobs with environmental regulations. They can tell industrial workers that their jobs were taken away by nasty foreigners. And they can promise to bring the jobs back by making America polluted again, by getting tough on trade, and so on. These are false promises, but they play well with some audiences.
But, in the United States, lots of jobs disappear every day: "In an ever-changing economy, jobs are always being lost: 75,000 Americans are fired or laid off every working day. And sometimes whole sectors go away as tastes or technology change."
So what's to be done? Workers need to be supported as they prepare for the new jobs that are coming on stream:
We can guarantee health care and adequate retirement income for all. We can provide aid to the newly unemployed. And we can act to keep the overall economy strong — which means doing things like investing in infrastructure and education, not cutting taxes on rich people and hoping the benefits trickle down.
But Mr. Trump doesn't believe that government should do that.
Image: Work It Daily