MHA's thought provoking post on the outsourcing phenomenon prompted a bit of data mining on my part concerning sector employment. Using data from the BLS and the BEA I came up with the following comparative numbers with 1983 as a start point and 2006 as the end point:
"Production occupations" encompass all of what would have been considered manufacturing jobs during the 'industrial age' and does not address occupations relating to the 'information age' in a manner consonant with an understandable definition of "production". Instead the "production worker" of the information age is booted up to "Professionals and related occupations" or "Management, business, and financial operations". Thus Robert Reich can babble interminably about "millions of jobs lost to outsourcing" while blithely ignoring the many more millions of jobs created through the transition from an industrial (read "Union, Union, Union") economy to an information economy. The GDP number indicates that we are "producing" a great deal more (76%) of something today than we were in 1983 - and that the labor component of that production has dropped sharply as a component of total cost.
While I agree wholeheartedly with the central thesis that outsourcing has become integrated today, I wonder where the workers will come from should more companies come to the same decision regarding opening plants in the US? As Morgan has noted, the workforce cannot grow much further over the next 8-10 years without an increase in the total participation rate beyond historical highs.
ENDNOTE: Did you know that the GDP had grown by 14.6% after eight years when Bubba's Bubble popped while it has grown 13.7% at six years under President Bush's tenure? If it continues to grow over the next two years as it has over the past six it will have increased by 17.9% when President Bush leaves office. Somehow I doubt that the news will make the papers....