Monday, January 30, 2012

STEM Grads Still Under Full Employment

David Sirota:

So that gets us back to the key question of whether the term “education” is effectively being redefined? In all of the elite media’s stories about offshoring and the STEM “education crisis,” does the term “education” no longer mean “learning a set of skills”? Does it in practice now mean American workers learning not new technological crafts, but learning to quietly accept the wage, labor and human rights standards of China — the standards we thankfully improved after our own crushing Industrial Age a century ago? In short, does “education” now mean “teaching American workers to be subservient”?

The answer, almost certainly, is yes, because that’s the only way that the media and political establishment’s entire “education crisis” meme makes any logical sense.

The fact is, while our cash-starved schools would obviously benefit from more resources, and while better schools clearly couldn’t hurt our society, there’s no empirical, data-based reason to believe that improving our schools would reverse the trend of America losing high-tech jobs to slave-labor nations like China. Without a change in tax and tariff-free trade policies that economically incentivize companies like Apple to keep moving production to cheap labor havens overseas, the only “education” that will bring those jobs back is the kind that indoctrinates high-tech American workers to compete with Chinese workers by accepting the horrific labor conditions those Chinese workers experience. Based on the New York Times’ own reporting on Apple, that means an education system in America that teaches our workers to simply accept being paid $17 a day, to work six days a week in 12-hour shifts and to live in crowded dormitories so that they can be stampeded into the factory at any hour of the day. It means, in short, an education system that tells Eric Saragoza to shut up and accept the employer’s draconian demands.

Beryl Benderly:

In reality, however, data from the past two decades indicate that "the unemployment rate for college graduates when the enconomy is at full-employment is approximately 2.2%, or half what it is currently," Hira writes. "Typically, the national unemployment rate is slightly more than twice the unemployment rate for college graduates, whether the country is in recession or in recovery." During the 2 years before the Great Recession began in 2008, "when the economy was doing well, the national unemployment rates were 4.6%, whereas the rates for college graduates were 2.0%." This indicates an unemployment rate during full employment of "approximately 2.2%" for college graduates, and therefore that a "jobs recession" for degree holders currently exists, Hira concludes. At present, "there are too many skilled workers chasing too few jobs."

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