Restricting growth in employment in manufacturing industries
Automated technologies have been reducing the need for human labour in every manufacturing category. By 2010, less than 12 percent of the US workforce will be on the factory floor, and by 2020 less than 2 percent of the entire global workforce will likely still be engaged in factory work. The first quarter of the 21st century will see the virtual elimination of the blue collar, mass assembly line worker from the production process.
For most of the 1980s, it was fashionable to blame the loss of manufacturing on foreign competition and cheap labour markets abroad. In some industries, especially the garment trade and electronics, that has been the case. Recently, however, economists have begun to revise their views in the light of in-depth studies of the manufacturing sector. They have found that the concern, widely voiced during the 1950s and 1960s, that industrial workers would lose their jobs because of automation, is closer to the truth than the current preoccupation with a presumed loss of manufacturing jobs because of foreign competition.
The number of factory workers in the USA declined from 33 percent of the workforce to under 17 percent in the last 30 years of the twentieth century, even as US companies continue to increase production adn output.
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