Of the many lies Trump uttered during his campaign, the most bigly one is this: as president I’ll bring back lost manufacturing jobs from China and Mexico, and I will make sure no US company moves its operations to another country. (OK, I know that complete sentences elude Trump, but I am compelled to write them.)
Here’s the deal, and I know anyone who has been paying attention since the 1970s knows this, these jobs can’t come back because they no longer exist. That is, while a small fraction of American manufacturing jobs have migrated overseas, a far greater fraction of manufacturing jobs simply disappeared and are not coming back because the work is now being done by robots. The only way folks who’ve lost manufacturing jobs are going to be able to find work in manufacturing is to learn how to design or keep those robots working.
And, it’s going to get worse because automation is going to claim more and more jobs with each passing year. If you don’t think so, just take a minute to extrapolate the effects of self-driving cars. If self-driving cars become safe and efficient so that insurance companies agree to cover them and state laws change to allow them, we’ll soon have self-driving big rigs hauling goods across the country; we’ll have self-driving taxis, buses, limos, and so on. And that will mean no more transportation jobs for truckers, bus drivers, taxi, uber and lift drivers, limo drivers.
The fact that Trump is in the Oval Office isn’t going to prevent the pressure from investors and rival companies to automate—replacing workers with machines that do not break down, or take a sick day, or require health benefits and pension plans.
It’s a big con, and millions of American’s fell for it.