Extinct Employment

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Both Democrats and Republicans claim they can bring back manufacturing jobs that have been lost over the past decade. But the truth is, a lot of those jobs may be gone for good.

Economist Tom Sowell (search) points out that sometimes there’s no one to blame but progress when jobs disappear. Take farming for instance. As Mr. Sowell reminds us, 100 years ago, “At the beginning of the 20th century, 10 million American farmers and farm laborers produced the food to feed 76 million people. By the end of the century, fewer than 2 million people on the farms were feeding a population of more than 250 million.”

Should we be upset that 8 million farming jobs were lost, or happy that the country now produces food so efficiently? In fact, since we don’t have to spend so much time worrying about and collecting food, the increased productivity has allowed for the creation of many more jobs than the 8 million jobs lost in the farming sector.

Of course, all this doesn’t make getting fired any easier. But as Tom Sowell says, “You cannot advance the standard of living by continuing to do the same things in the same ways.”