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Employment in a Shape Shifting Economy

By: Staff Writer

Our economy is rapidly changing. Manufacturing jobs have moved from the United States to overseas. Retail outlets are closing at an accelerating rate. Jobs of the last century are being automated, regulated, or invented out of existence.

Economists have a term for economic change that replaces old products, inventions, processes, and jobs with new ones – creative destruction. Although we have lost jobs in manufacturing and retail, jobs in the health care and service sectors have grown. Today’s jobs require higher skill levels. Manufacturing work normally required a training investment at the beginning with basic training updates over time. This has since changed as time has developed.

Economic development and technological change is occurring at more rapid pace than ever before. The jobs of the 21st century may only exist for years as opposed to decades. Today’s working class needs to be prepared to change jobs more frequently, meeting the needs of the market.

Employers are looking for people who are able to adapt, produce results, and work as part of a team. Fortunately, we have jobs that serve as entry-level positions to give young workers their first opportunity. Fast food and customer service are among the jobs where young workers can build basic skills, acquire a college education, and move up the job ladder.

Older workers are staying in the workforce longer – for extra income or just to get out of the house. Working a few hours a week is an opportunity to stay connected with the community. Our elders do not have the retirement and pension packages that they used to. Today, part-time work supplements their retirement incomes.

Today’s working families often have both parents in the workforce. Flexible job opportunities let one parent work a few nights or the weekends, whenever they decide is best for their family. Many companies look for extra help during peak business. That is great for workers looking for short-term opportunities with little time commitment.

With the advent of Uber, work opportunities that puts a few extra bucks in anyone’s pocket are on the rise. Uber embodies the benefits of creative destruction in our economy. Taxis, Public Transit, or vehicle rental demand may fall, but new jobs driving for Uber come up as a new employment opportunity.

We have seen the decline of coal jobs, but also the rise of jobs in wind and solar. Some workers have transitioned right from one sector to the other. Other workers have left coal jobs behind and moved on to new lines of employment – at times finding more satisfying employment.

College education has become a requirement for many jobs in today’s economy. Even jobs in light manufacturing and the building trades may require an associates degree or some trade school. Working a full-time job while continuing education is not easy. Job opportunities outside of full-time work with the pay and benefits that come with it need to be present for those who find that best for their short-term goals.

Internships are a mainstay of today’s job market – much like apprentice and journeymen positions of the old economic order. These internships give employees a chance to build up their experience, and typically, earn income at the same time. As the economy changes, the demands on the labor market will too.


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