WHAT WORKS BEST? MI Policymakers Mull Best Route to Economic Equality
Too Many Households Still Struggling, Says Lou Glazer, United Way
September 17, 2017
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By: Dave Rogers
"In the seventh year of a national economic expansion and
an even stronger rebound from near bankruptcy of the
domestic auto industry -- too many Michigan households
are struggling. Michigan's substantial economic challenges
are clearly structural." -- Lou Glazer, president, Michigan Future, Inc.
To re-establish an economy where all Michigan households enjoy rising incomes a policy agenda must start with an understanding that what made Michigan prosperous in the past won't in the future.
Those who will do best in the knowledge-driven entrepreneurial economy will be those who let go of the old and embrace the new, the report postulates.
Those are the key conclusions of a recently released report from Michigan Future, Inc., a bipartisan "think tank."
The report identifies five big ongoing changes in the nature of work:
1. Jobs are increasingly service-providing not goods-producing. Goods-producing is primarily
work in farming, mining, manufacturing, and construction. That sector is now about 20 percent of American employment and continuously declining as a share of national employment.
The likely transformation of the auto industry from primarily selling cars to providing mobility will change Michigan's most important industry from mainly good-producing to mainly service-providing.
2. Good-paying work is increasingly going to professionals and managers who work in offices, schools, and hospitals. Including the pre- and post-production work of the auto industry and other manufacturing enterprises (engineering, design, logistics, marketing,
Yes, there are good-paying jobs that do not require a four-year degree. And certainly, there are good-paying jobs not done in offices, schools, and hospitals. But good-paying work with good benefits is increasingly going to those with four-year degrees or more and is increasingly concentrated in knowledge-based services.
3. Smarter and smarter machines are accelerating the creative destruction of jobs, occupations
and even industries. But which jobs, occupations, and industries will be most affected and when is
unpredictable. So your job and occupation today are less secure than yesterday and will be even less
secure tomorrow than today.
4. Because of smarter and smarter machines, work is increasingly right brain -- the skills
that are the hardest to automate. Daniel Pink in his book "A Whole New Mind" posits that new
good-paying jobs increasingly will go to people who are creators, empathizers, pattern recognizers
and meaning makers.
5. Work is increasingly contingent: More and more jobs will go from stable and life-long --
predominantly full-time with benefits from an employer -- to unstable, occasional, part-time, flex
jobs -- far more working for yourself where you are responsible for your employment salary and benefits.
Another reality is that there is a lot of work that is not good paying. Maybe as much as half the jobs in the Michigan economy today don?t pay enough in wages and benefits to pay for family necessities as defined by the Michigan Association of United Ways. There is no evidence that the
proportion of low-paid work, most without benefits, is going to decline going forward.
We are living in a world where the gales of creative destruction blow stronger and faster. In an economy increasingly characterized by rapid and discontinuous change, successful individuals, enterprises, and communities will need to be agile: able to let go of what is no longer working and embrace?or better yet, create?the next wave.
This, of course, is the role Michigan played at the beginning of the Industrial Age. Because we embraced the new?and left behind the old?quicker than anyone else, we became one of the leading-edge communities in the world for most of the 20th Century.
We were both the place where entrepreneurs led by Henry Ford invented the next economy and also the place where many people migrated across the landscape and went to a city to get a totally different kind of job in the growing factory-based mass middle class. By and large, Michiganders who took the risk of leaving the declining farm economy for the rising factory economy did the best.
Once again, success is tied to letting go of the old and embracing the new. Michigan needs to get on a new path if we are to succeed in the knowledge-driven and entrepreneurial economy of the future.
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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