“A permanent job with good benefits is (now) beyond reach for most American workers … only federal judges and tenured professors are insulated from the forces of workforce transformation”
That’s according to the authors of the book Working Scared (Or Not at All): The Lost Decade, Great Recession, and Restoring the Shattered American Dream
The book Working Scared is focused on the ways that the American workplace has changed in the past 50 or so years … and the implications on American workers (and non-workers).
The central premise of the book is that globalization (out-sourcing & off-shoring); de-industrialization (towards more services and knowledge-based); technology-intensity (computers, internet, robots); and de-unionization have shattered the American Dream for tens of millions of working adults who are struggling or poor … “despite working hard and playing by the rules.”
More specifically …
Based on 25,000 national random interviews with employed and unemployed Americans, the authors conclude …
Roughly 75% of the U.S. labor force (i.e. 100 million people) have been personally affected by or deeply concerned about joblessness:
- Millions are unemployed, fighting for another job and suffering personal and financial agony.
- Among those who are still employed many desperately try to hang on to their jobs and live in a state of constant anxiety.
- These Americans are “working scared” because, to them, it seems that virtually every job is temporary, threatened (directly or indirectly) by either technological change or global competition.
- With no certain routes to stable employment, American workers scramble for the education they need to remain employable and provide family sustaining wages.
- A college degree no longer brings automatic success in the labor market. American workers worry that the uncomfortable realities of a volatile labor market will plague them and their families for decades.
And, the authors point out that the prospects for joblessness are financially daunting since 45% of Americans are not able to pay their bills for more than a month if they suddenly become jobless … and nearly 2/3s said they would be in deep financial trouble if an unemployment spell lasted for up to three months.
Further, the study reminds that the prospects for joblessness have potentially serious health implications … both physical (e.g. stress-related heart issues) and mental (e.g. diminished self-worth).
Who (or what) do they blame?
Based on the 25,000 interviews:
- 75% of American workers blamed “global competition and cheap labor from other countries”, fueled by free trade agreements
- Just over 40% attributed high unemployment to the actions of Wall Street
- About 40% think that illegal immigrants had taken jobs away from Americans and contributed to high unemployment.
100 million affected folks – frustrated and angry – with identified villains.
Do you think that Donald Trump might have read the book?
Working Scared lays out the case for Trump’s campaign.
A bit ironic since — evidenced by their commentary & proposed solutions — the authors lean to the left …
Thanks to MES for feeding the lead on the book.