Today’s News & Commentary — December 11, 2019
Yesterday, Sejal wrote about how House Democrats and the Trump Administration are about to agree on a trade deal, the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), which the President views as a replacement for NAFTA. Bloomberg reports that while AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka is on board—which was key to Democratic support for the deal—not all unions agree. The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers published a statement opposing USMCA, noting that “any acceptable deal must effectively address the continued outsourcing of hundreds of thousands of jobs to Mexico.” An article from Politico discusses the ways unions benefit from USMCA’s passage—partly because it has stricter enforcement of labor rules. On the other hand, Economic Policy Institute President Thea M. Lee called the deal “weak tea, at best,” arguing that it will have no measurable impacts on American workers’ incomes.
The Washington Post reports that the D.C. Metro and its largest union tentatively (and unexpectedly) have agreed to a four-year contract that allows the Metro to give up on its plan of privatizing some operations to save money. The Post reports that privatization was the largest point of contention between the agency and its workers, which has led to a Metro worker strike in Northern Virginia. Metro and ATU Local 689 released a joint statement calling the agreement a “major development” and a “good deal for  employees.”
Facing public pressure, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg released a list of clients he advised while working as a management consultant at McKinsey & Company. The New York Times reports that the “most politically troubling” client on Buttigieg’s list is Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan. During the time that he was helping the company “identify savings in administration and overhead costs,” the insurer announced that it would lay off nearly 10 percent of its workforce. McKinsey has come under fire in the past weeks for, among other things, helping the ICE carry out the Trump Administration’s immigration detention policies and reporting false numbers in a project to reduce prison violence on Rikers Island.
A new report from the Brookings Institution and the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation shows that 90 percent of tech jobs created from 2005 to 2017 were concentrated in just five metro areas: Seattle, Boston, San Francisco, San Jose and San Diego. The Washington Post notes that the result is “a growing concentration of high-paying jobs that accelerates wage growth and, by extension, socioeconomic disparities.”
Finally, the Wall Street Journal found that within three years, workers with college degrees will outnumber those without in American factories. Increasing automation means that new manufacturing jobs require advanced skills to “manage the machines.” U.S. manufacturers have added over a million jobs since the recession and fewer of those jobs than ever are going to individuals without college degrees.