Saturday, August 03, 2013

David Brooks Channels Mike Rowe While Dean Baker Takes the Dirty Job of Cleaning Up Their Pile of Crap

David Brooks goes all Mike Rowe with the BS about skills shortages in the US labor market:
It [weak job growth] probably has to do with a skills shortage, that as technology increases, skills have got to keep up and skills are just not keeping up...
It's a dirty job, but Dean Baker slaps Brooks upside the head with some basic economic facts:
If this claim were true it would mean that there are substantial segments of the labor market where we are seeing labor shortages. That would mean that workers in some occupations would be seeing rapidly rising wages. We should also see industries or occupations where the length of the average workweek is increasing rapidly. Employers would be trying to get the workers they have to put in more hours, since they can't find additional workers. In these industries/occupations we should also see a high ratio of job openings to unemployed workers. There are no major areas of the labor market where we see this evidence of labor shortages. In other words, Brooks is just making this up out of thin air.
Mike Rowe said he'd probably vote for Romney. This tells me that the Ford spokesman is likely a corporate shill. So it shouldn't be surprising to find out that his supposed "skills gap" is really a bunch of corporate bitching that they can't find people to do these jobs because they won't raise pay enough to actually attract the qualified applicants.

On Real Time, Rowe gave the example of a Caterpillar heavy equipment company in Las Vegas (probably Cashman, which doesn't post wages on it's job listings). He claims those jobs start at 40K a year, for operating heavy machinery. He says in a few short years you can make $120,000 a year. He's full of shit.
The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports the median wage for heavy equipment operators in the United States is $41,870, an hourly wage of $20.13 per hour, as of May 2012. The average nationwide for those who operate bulldozers, backhoes, cranes and road grading machinery is slightly higher than the median, at $46,270 per year, or $22.24 per hour.
So, here's the problem. He's spewing the right wing "skills gap" BS because this is how Republicans blame "lazy" and "uneducated" kids who don't want the dirty jobs, instead of the large corporations that refuse to follow the laws of supply and demand when it comes to labor.

Private fixed investment as a percentage of potential GDP. Via Wonkblog
And these people claim to be capitalists who believe in free markets... Free markets mean supply and demand rules apply. If you need more of a supply of skilled labor, and you're not getting them, then you need to pay more for it. Since, as Mr. Baker showed, there is no rise in wages for these kinds of jobs, and there is no increase in hours worked by those already employed in these jobs, then there is no shortage.

It's an elaborate Bullshit Mountain ( Jon Stewart) constructed by our market-rigging financial elites designed to distract us from the real problems, which are lack of demand due to the housing bubble and Little Bush Depression, and lack of investment in infrastructure which would more than pay for itself by making us safer, more productive, and more competitive.

Borrowing costs are very low right now. Labor costs are low. Materials costs are low. Equipment is sitting idle. The markets are screaming at us to invest in infrastructure. What part of "buy low" don't these supposed capitalists get?

1 comment:

toma said...

It is strange to be sure that business-and-economy obsessed wingers are also the poor folks who know absolutely nothing about business or the economy. How is it you can spend all your time thinking about something yet never understand anything about it? It mystifies.

My Brother The Republican is a financial 'expert,' fer instance. He's been telling his well-off clients that they're now paying as much as 80% of their income in taxes. When I grilled him about the particulars of our graduated income tax system, he was totally confused. He thought that the highest income tax rate of 39.6% meant that rich people pay 39.6% of their yearly income. When I told him the top income tax rate after WWII was 90%, he practically had to pull the car over. He's a millionaire, of course.