Monday, June 27, 2011

DECLINING AMERICAN JOBS: Our Number One Threat!

Recently I have blogged about education, unions and the loss of American jobs overseas.  Without even being aware of it, or even seeing it for that matter, we are wittnessing the next great seismic shift in the loss of jobs to a whole class of Americans.

When I graduated from high school, my first job was as a time keeper in the Pipe Shop of the B & W in Barberton.  My Dad was so proud of me because I made a living being clean and "pushing a pencil".  He and my two brothers were steel workers working in a foundry.  I kept time on the evening shift and hated it!  I worked the job for six weeks, quit and joined the Navy.

After the Navy I took a job as a spec writer at a local tire company.  Eventually, after being a supervisor, foreman, and general foreman,  Manager of the Milling, Calendering and Tubing Divisions, I became Manager of Tire Production.  My hundreds of employees required an entire department of time keepers and a payroll department.

Somewhere in those years a seismic event happened, computers joined the work force.  Had to love computers.  They never got sick, filed a complaint and rarely made an error.  When they did err it was because of  human imput not something that the computer did.  They kept time and made payroll.  MY NUMBER ONE INTEREST BEING THE "BOTTOM LINE",  I REJOICED THAT TWO  WHOLE DEPARTMENTS OF EMPLOYEES WERE ELIMINATED.

WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND!  In May of 1980, twenty-one North American Tire Companies closed on the same day.  Plant closures were common in that period.  Along with tens of thousands of others across the nation, at the age of 49 I lost my job.  My wife, a Technical Engineer with the same company, also lost her job.  We took a three month vacation, travelling around the USA, Mexico and Canada in a travel trailer deciding what we wanted to do.

The culprit was not computers, the unions or government regulations.  The problem was a wonderful improvement in tire construction.  The radial tire had arrived.  Tire life was extended from maybe 12,000 miles to 60,000 miles at basically the same price.  WHAT A BLESSING FOR CAR OWNERSThe country only needed a fourth of the tires that they had been buying.  Auto manfacturers immediately changed  to all radial tires. 

I decided to shift gears and became a stock broker, tripling my income and retiring early.  Most did not share the same experience.  I've met a lot of my former employers and fellow managers.  For the most part, they had become service employees.  One of my favorite employees had become a janitor at a hospital where his wife was an RN.  A fellow manager became the Maintenace Manager at a large library where his son was Librarian.  One of my lead foremen became the plant manager of a company making airplane tires in Florida.   I have met a lot of these folks, however, working at car washes or mowing lawns at the school.  Plant closures was the catalysts for many divorces and even some suicides.

Yesterday I called my wife's attention to another trend towards the loss of American jobs of seismic proportion.  It is a service job that millions of low education people depend upon.  The loss isn't even apparent yet.  I watched.  Noone even noticed it taking place.  I've seen it grow from a trial change to a change of major proportions and all too soon it will be a complete change with horrible consequences to millions.

CASHIERS ARE ABOUT TO GO THE WAY OF THE BUGGY WHIP OR WHALE OIL!  Or maybe, bias tires!

We were in Walmarts, the world's largest store.  This one company probably employees thousands of cashiers.  In this large Walmart yesterday they were operating nine checkouts.  Six had cashiers, three were "self" checkouts.  The lines to the cashiers were long and slow.  The three self check out stations were fast and constantly in use.  At the very least, the day is soon approaching when there may be one checkout with a cashier to whom you will pay extra to use.  THE REST WILL ALL BE AUTOMATED CHECKOUTS.

Do you recall when department stores had cashiers at every counter and managers of each department?  No longer!  Serve yourself, take your purchase to a single check out.  Department manager, what's that?  Service?  What do you mean, service?

If you are a real old codger, you might recall something called Service Stations.  Ask your children or grandchildren about service stations and observe their blank stares.

 Remember when you pulled your car into a "Service Station" and you were met by a smiling attendant who faithfully cleaned your windshield, checked your oil and the air in your tires while he pumped your gas for maybe thirty cents a gallon.

Even delicate, well dressed ladies today pump their own gas.  Although they pay well over three dollars a gallon for the gas, they will pay with a credit card and respond to "Receipt?".  Check the air in your tires?  Try finding a station with air.  When you find it you will probably pay seventy-five cents to run the compresser for a few minutes.

WHATS THE POINT?  We have become a SERVICE nation and the service jobs are fast disappearing!  This loss will not only continue, in my opinion, it will excelerate.  WHAT TO DO?  First of all, we had best get some leaders who run on responsibility and not on free government care.  Secondly, as individuals, we had best become educated to compete in a world marketplace.  Lastly, prepare for the worst case senario and pray.

Take care and God bless you and yours.

God bless the USA.

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