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David Brewster: The largely false narrative that globalization is the main culprit in loss of American jobs

David Brewster thumbnail ico
Robert Samuelson on the “largely false” narrative that globalization is the main culprit in loss of American jobs. The bigger cause by far is productivity gains. He focuses on the example of steel, where inefficient plants have closed and mini-mills, recycling steel, have boomed. Summing up: “The standard story about the fate of U.S. manufacturing is incomplete. It blames the loss of U.S. factory jobs mainly on foreign imports and the move of American firms abroad. That’s part of the problem, but a larger cause is — as with steel — “rapid productivity growth,” argues Harvard University economist Robert Lawrence. Better manufacturing methods and technologies mean that fewer workers can produce the same output.This is a good thing, even if it initially involves fewer jobs, because higher productivity promotes higher living standards.”

The (largely false) globalization narrative
Politicians say it’s killing U.S. manufacturing. The truth is more complicated.
WASHINGTONPOST.COM


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