Union membership has fallen by half since the mid-’80s, a decline that is mirrored in the loss of middle-wage jobs. We’re not nostalgic for unions per se, but without an effective counterweight to corporate power that protects and empowers workers we will continue to see an erosion of job quality.
In an era when jobs will be lost to automation, and more human jobs will be low-paid service jobs, we urgently need to restore the social benefits that keep people out of deep poverty.
The government-run job training and job placement programs of the past and present are an ill fit for the needs of the twenty-first century economy. At the same time the tech industry, which is notoriously exclusive, has an imperative to make its employee base more representative of the population at large — not just to create broader economic opportunity but because more representative companies are more likely to be successful than those that aren’t, and representation makes companies more likely to avoid product and business decisions that harm society.
Update and Strengthen Social Support Programs
The social safety net as we knew it in the twentieth century has been slowly eroding over the last several decades. In an era when jobs will be lost to automation, and more human jobs will be low-paid service jobs, we urgently need to restore the social benefits that keep people out of deep poverty. This is a core responsibility of any developed society. We also need a safety net that is responsive to the changing nature of work in the twenty-first century, decoupling benefits from employment.