The big business news of the moment, other than cheap oil and gas from fracking, is the continuing growth in US manufacturing. What this hasn't meant is a ton of new jobs. The reason for this is pretty simple, US workers are about three times more efficient than Chinese workers doing the same job. That means you need a third of the staff to get the same output.

The other thing this means is you need to be more efficient to get these jobs. Assembly lines no longer represent rote tasks you can train anyone to do. You have to be capable of learning to operate a complex machine, and meet all the complicated social rules of the modern workplace too. This leaves a lot of people at the bottom of the ability distribution without a means of making a decent living.

The massive productivity of American workers means that we can actually afford to have a significant fraction of the population not doing useful work, but this is ultimately dehumanizing to those stuck at the bottom. I have no idea what to do about this, but it is only going to get worse as the economy improves.

h/t Steve Hsu