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Letters to the editor, November 9

Disappearing jobs

We all know that times change. Ours used to be an agrarian economy. Then an industrial economy. And now a technological and service economy.

These evolutions are driven by visionaries who invented steam engines, locomotives, telegraphs and telephones, automobiles, assembly lines, aircraft, radio and television, computers, 3D printers and a million other things that have changed life in ways that had not been imagined.

Most of us are just along for the ride. But we ought to be able to expect our political leaders to be a bit further ahead of the curve than the rest of us.

American manufacturing wages average $26 an hour, while those in China and Mexico are $2 or $3 per hour. Any tariff high enough to offset that difference would do more to drive up prices on imported goods and start a trade war than return to the United States jobs that already have been lost.

And for the blue-collar worker, things are going to get worse. Technology is coming for a whole new group of workers, and virtually no one is talking about it. Through three presidential debates, no moderator and neither candidate brought it up. We’re talking about jobs in transportation and delivery — jobs that today pay well, but will begin to disappear as nascent technology matures.

Two weeks ago, a tractor-trailer rig outfitted with Uber technology delivered a load of 50,000 cans of Budweiser across 120 miles of Colorado highways. A driver got the big rig onto the interstate and then sat back and did nothing for the rest of the trip.

Millions of jobs on which today’s families rely are going to disappear, some within the next few years. Now is the time to start talking about this next wave of job losses and what it will do to the economy. ...

— The (Youngstown, Ohio)