After following some of the links showing job loss and productivity gains, it's quite depressing, I've come to the conclusion that one of my main goals has been to eliminate employees' jobs. In the past year I have eliminated 3 people and outsourced semi-finished goods from other American companies at least. But guess what? Boxes of parts don't have mood swings, PMS, holidays, don't have to be heated or cooled, and NO SCRAP! They come in at a set cost with out the variables. Kind of sad that I can no longer devote the HR to barely breaking even ...on good days. But, specialized suppliers can do so much better due to their economy of scale than I can.
My newest built machine will eliminate 2 more jobs and a hefty bonus structure. I just came to realize that the next 3 projects will be such a boost in productivity that 4 or 5 more jobs are in jeopardy. So does this make me a bad guy? I don't really think so, but multiply this around the country and that's a LOT of jobs lost with a net gain in products produced. So, who's going to have money to BUY products in the future?
I wouldn't say you're part of the problem, Tom. Outsourcing and productivity improvements are part of the game. If it occurs gradually, the economy adapts, we all benefit from the improved productivity, and life goes on.
The problems are surges of imports, companies chasing low wages around the world and shutting down US plants to do so, and foreign countries manipulating the factors of production for the purpose of predatory pricing. It's a combination of profiteering and predation. When the numbers behind those phenomena get large, we wind up with industries that, suddenly and overwhelmingly, become non-competitive
A good deal of my career has also been to eliminate jobs. But, as justification, most of those were jobs that people shouldn't be doing anyway.
Working at GTE Sylvania in Maine, it seemed that every time we grew more efficient, we had to take on more people because we could cut costs on are automotive and lighting products.
The present job is a machine to place hangers on plant pots. Doesn't sound like much of a deal except that a greenhouse might have to do 6 million of these in a short growing season. Rows of ladies lined up ruining their wrists is not a pleasant sight. Automation is a real plus here even though some might not have this low paying job. There are lots of other examples where automation benefits people and society over the long haul.
Tom, perhaps with all these jobs being taken over by machines, you have other duties for these surplus employees to attend to? I suppose it's difficult if they're no/semiskill.. Or are they tradespeople/professionals? Who's head's on the block?
You're a lot luckier than Lockheed-Martin has been with outsourcing. We've done a lot of it, and have discovered that our suppliers have all the same quality problems we do, and in return for lower costs, we get reduced ability to correct any little problems that arise.
Since little problems can result in 40 ton missiles landing in your backyard, this is something of an issue for me...
B.S.E., electrical engineering (from a top 10 engineering college)...background is automated electronic test. Ironically, the kind of automation I was involved in hasn't displaced people in the last 10-15 years (it did initially) instead merely kept from creating rather mundane, repetitive jobs in favor of creating (fewer) jobs that required "super" techs to fill them.
George, no matter what, you won't do the part "A" into part "B" job for min+ wages will you? One of the big problems some people (politicians and political people) have is that they don't realize that there is a NEED for these jobs to provide income and satisfaction to a whole class of people that really, really can't DO anything else. I have people that can't count, read a tape measure, have never had a checking or savings account... they live paycheck to paycheck but help support a family and community. I see the only other alternative to these lower end jobs is to suck the public teat. No satisfaction in that for people at all.
Actually you are part of the solution if you can do what the "theory" says. Take all that extra profit and start an R&D project. Use the excess labor to push the paper and get ISO9001 certified. Invest another couple hundred $K setting up international marketing chanels and start exporting. The theory says that is how we balance the trade situation.
Oddly, we have such a situation here in Macon. Small job shop serving the kaolin industry here developed a special ball mill for processing chalk. The owner did an industry and trade junket to some place in Africa and found a market for the mill. Now he is sending beer drinkin' South Georgia good ol' boys to places like Celon, Indonesia and China to install his mills. Just added 40,000 more feet to the shop, a couple million in machines and hired 8 more machinist.
That is how it is supposed to work but it is the excepti> After following some of the links showing job loss and productivity gains,
Your industry has it's own stupid rules that hog-tie people with synapses that still fire. I have heard that you can't make simple, logical improvements to a system without masive re-quallifying expences. "Oh no, we can't use that chip with a higher heat rating even though it's exactly the same part and will cure the problem forever." Cheaper is not always cheaper...is it.
My thought is that you are only doing half of your job. One of the main goals is to reduce the work required by your employees per unit produced. But the other half is to either sell more of what you make, or make more different things. I know! Easy to say, lots harder to do.
I wrote this on a similar thread on another newsgroup yesterday:
"Ayup. The US is STILL the leader in productivity. The recession is nearly over. Manufacturing is coming back. However..there are a shit load of jobs that will never be regained in manufacturing, as the surviving US companies, in an effort to weather the recession, and the sucking sound as work goes out of the country, have learned to work smarter, and faster, and with less labor.
What used to be manufactured in the 60s, on manual lathes and mills, over the course of a couple hours, by $25 hr machinists, , is now manufactured in 30 seconds by a single machine, with a $11hr operator.
Its only going to get worse for employees who didnt keep pace with technology. But then..this is old news. Technology has always outpaced the worker. The textile mill turning thousands of yards of material replaced the hand weaver and his 5 yrds a day. The mechanic whom repaired milk wagons and shoes milk horses, was replaced by an auto mechanic. The Ice Cutter whom cut lake ice, moved it and stored it in the winter, has been replaced by refridgeration. The draftsman has been replaced by the CadCam guy. The list is endless.
One has to either be able to keep up with technology, or find a special niche, or retrain for a new trade a number of times in his life. The joys and pain of the modern world.
Its not helped either, that labor is the #1 expense behind virtually all products. And the more the labor costs, due to bennies, wages, unions etc etc..the more incentive the company has to reduce labor as much as possible. If a trained machinest, gets $60,000 a year, and he can be replaced by a $60,000 machine, which does 100x the work, with no wastage...and you had to both compete with Turd world labor, and answer to the stockholders..what would you do? Keep the machinist or buy TWO of those $60k machines?
Gunner, CNC machine tool tech."
I made $22k gross last year, after the big machine tool slump. My overhead was $23k. If Im really lucky..and sell a couple more machines out of my back yard, unplug a few more toilets, and patch another roof or two..I might gross $27k by the time this year is over. Of course..my overhead is now $25k, and my kid and his pregnant new wife moved in, my wife still is in deep shit medically, and so forth. I turned 50 on the
11th, and I live in a dying town, but have to keep a place in $o.Cal to work out of. This does not include all the back medical bills and taxes the wife dumped on me...
So Im screwed no matter what I do. Shrug. Im no different than any of the weavers, wool sorters, horseshoe makers and milk wagon mechanics through out history. We either die in poverty, or find some gig to keep the wolf from the door. One of the reasons Im a survivalist, and live frugally. Shit does happen, both in society and in real life. Not a day goes by that I, and most here, dont listen for that other shoe to fall. All we can do is the best we can, and keep looking and preparing for that niche. And bitching about it doesnt do a damned bit of good.
"The British attitude is to treat society like a game preserve where a certain percentage of the 'antelope' are expected to be eaten by the "lions". Christopher Morton
Yep, same with the Vordos household. I refuse to toss over $400/year for tv programming, then be subjected to commercials endlessly. What little tv we watch, aside from news, is generally recorded and then watched at a more convenient time, bypassing all the advertising. I don't give a damn that advertising pays the tab, if I have to choose between watching those lame, insulting, head banging commercials and not watching tv, I'll take the silence and some good jazz on the stereo in its place anytime.