Access: New York Times
Summary: This animated NYT video examines the shifting nature of global production and its effect on the distribution of jobs in the US economy. It begins by showing how the components of the iPhone are produced around the world (social scientists refer to this as a global value chain). As most viewers know, this means that low-skilled jobs are then outsourced and sent overseas. But as time passes, it creates a "vacuum" that pulls other higher skilled/higher pay jobs overseas. The video introduces the idea of a "job multiplier" where one job actually creates a higher number of total jobs because of related services that accompany it and tend to be physically located nearby. However, some jobs (e.g. auto manufacturing) have higher multipliers than others (e.g. hospital services). Over time, the US economy has lost jobs that demand higher skills and have higher job multipliers, and these have been replaced by jobs with lower job multipliers and lower skills (and therefore, lower incomes). Jobs at the top and bottom of the hierarchy (e.g. software engineers and service jobs) have grown, but jobs in the middle of the hierarchy (e.g. office assistants, manufacturers) have declined. The video concludes by noting that this is why our economic problems are so hard to solve, arguing that "we've become a nation with fewer chances for people to climb into the middle class." Possible discussion questions for this video are: How has the structure of the American economy changed over time? How does economic globalization alter job structures and mobility opportunities in the US? What impact does this have on economic inequality?
Thank you to Michael Miller for suggesting this clip!
Submitted By: Paul Dean