Interesting piece in yesterday’s NY Times asks why presidential candidates who want to show their concern for the economy and honor working people pose with factory workers rather than with ballet troupes.
Huh? The article goes on to show that, statistically, the symbolic U. S. worker is no longer a Joe Lunchbucket working graveyards at Huskins Aircraft:
After all, the U.S. now has more choreographers (16,340) than metal-casters (14,880), according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. More people make their livings shuffling and dealing cards in casinos (82,960) than running lathes (65,840), and there are almost three times as many security guards (1,004,130) as machinists (385,690). Whereas 30 percent of Americans worked in manufacturing in 1950, fewer than 15 percent do now. The economy as politicians present it is a folkloric thing.
What’s happened, the article explains here, is that the long-promised (and, by some, long-feared) transformation of America from a manufacturing economy into a services economy has happened. It’s over, and that’s why, Mitt Romney notwithstanding, those auto-making jobs in Michigan really aren’t coming back anytime soon, if ever. Some of the results of this Great Retooling are good, some are bad, and some we just haven’t figured out yet.