Fabius Maximus notes that we now have more people employed in government than in manufacturing.
While I’m certainly not thrilled with the growth of government employment, which is a problem in and of itself, I can’t get very wound up about a decline in manufacturing employment, per se. All that says to me is that we’re becoming more productive in manufacturing, which I thought was supposed to be a good thing. As someone who has been employed in manufacturing on occasion, I’m glad that I don’t do it any more.
At the turn of the twentieth century, a large percentage of the population was employed in agriculture. I don’t know what the number is now, but I’d guess it’s on the order of a percent (and in fact the Great Plains states have been steadily depopulating). Despite this, we have no impending food shortage. And many who might have wasted their lives as a horny-handed son or daughter of toil and soil now have opportunities for both better paying and personally satisfying employment.
Should we weep for the loss of that bygone day when many more of us were privileged to follow the south end of a mule for a living? I would hope that most would say no, and I don’t see it as a tragedy if fewer people have to be drones on assembly lines, either. The problem isn’t that fewer people are working in factories, per se, but that we don’t have good jobs for those who have been displaced, particularly if they remain uneducated.