News & Commentary

September 10, 2018

Martin Drake

Martin Drake is a student at Harvard Law School.

The number of blue-collar jobs is growing at its fastest rate in 30 years, the Washington Post reports.  Jobs in goods-producing industries, such as mining, construction and manufacturing, grew 3.3 percent in the year preceding July, the best rate since 1984, according to the Post.  According to the Brookings Institution, the hiring boom has brought jobs to many small towns and rural areas that strongly support President Trump, just ahead of November’s midterm elections.  The drivers of the newfound hiring are rising oil prices and a need to rebuild after Hurricanes Irma and Harvey.

Amidst a growing demand for high-quality child care programs and low pay in the sector, the U.S. is seeing a shortage of child-care workersFox Business reports.  In Seattle, the fastest growing U.S. big city, skyrocketing demand combined with low supply of workers has seen costs reaching about $2,000 monthly per child.  Child care workers in the U.S. make less than parking lot attendants and dog-walkers, according to Marcy Whitebrook, co-director of the University of California, Berkeley’s Center for the Study of Child Care Employment.  Some child care centers are so overbooked in Seattle, New York and San Francisco that potential parents pay for waiting list spots before they have even conceived.

Amazon has patented a technological system that would put its warehouse workers in cages affixed on top of robots, Seattle Times reports.  The patent was granted by the U.S. Patent and Trademark office in 2016, and details a caged work space sitting on top of the robotic trolleys that now truck shelves around Amazon warehouses.  The design attempts to allow humans to safely enter robot-only zones in Amazon facilities in order to make repairs or pick up dropped objects.  Researchers who highlighted the patent called it “an extraordinary illustration of worker alienation, a stark moment in the relationship between humans and machines.”  Amazon says it has no plans to put the technology to use.

Britain’s Labour party has put forth a proposal to make UK companies with over 250 employees set up “ownership funds” in order to give workers ownership shares in their firms, the New York Times reports.  Labour MP John McDonnell said he would introduce such legislation in the first year of a Labour government as part of the party’s vision to “shift wealth and power in favor of working people.”  Britain is not due to hold a new election until 2022, but McDonnell expects the current government to “fall apart in the next six months.”


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