Create Jobs by Reducing the Work Week
Sep 26, 2011
There was an interesting article that hit the national news services about
whether jobs are slowly becoming extinct. Technology has certainly changed the
way we live as well as how we buy and how what we need. The possible closing of
our postal service, book stores (Borders), video stores and most formal clothing
stores are just a few examples of how technology has changed our needs and our
way of life.
Another major reduction in jobs has come from outsourcing. When outsourcing
expanded, the common reason to outsource was that for every dollar that left the
country four dollars would return. Outsourcing certainly has provided us with
access to cheaper goods and has helped in the expansion of retail stores, but
this has come at the cost of higher paying jobs and the destruction of entire
communities that lived off of one plant that provided jobs for a town or region.
Take for example Rochester, New York. Rochester is home to Kodak – the
premier provider of film for cameras. Instead of becoming a leader in digital
photo technology, Kodak let other firms grab that market share allowing Kodak to
fade into non-existence. The impact to Rochester has been devastating, as the
employment has dwindled. In order to survive Rochester will have to come up with
a new Kodak or reinvent its market and find ways to create jobs.
President Obama's plan and most of the other plans presented do nothing to
address the bigger picture of how technology will continue to lose jobs.
Extending unemployment benefits may be the right thing to do but that does not
create jobs. Extending tax credits to small business may be a good thing but
small business still need to have a product or service that is needed in today's
world. Finally, expanding public work projects is certainly a necessity but
these projects require long term planning and have a short-term time line of
life. Once a public works project is done the job is eliminated. The bigger
picture is that the government cannot afford to add more debt for a short-term
boost in employment that will take years to approve and set in motion.
Now is the time to visit an entirely different approach to our job problem.
At the turn of the century the average workweek was six days; Sunday was God's
day of rest. We did not have a set amount of vacation and sick days available to
workers. Today, the United States is at the top of major industrialized nations
in terms of days worked per year by worker. Only Japan works more days per year
than the United States.
With unemployment at just under 10% plus another 5-10% of our population
considered not working but unemployable, that is almost a 20% unemployment rate.
In addition we have a significant percentage of workers that are working
part-time and while considered as being employed, fall into the poverty line. We
are also keeping kids in school longer, thus, postponing students from entering
the work force. The prospect of our college graduates getting a job that matches
their education is dismal at best.
We need to look at a bold new way to solve our current and future job
development problem that will create real growth and renewed prosperity. Now is
the time to reduce our workweek to a level that will require us to hire an equal
amount of employees to reduce our unemployment while creating opportunity for
all to get well-paid jobs that can support each of our citizens and their
My idea is simple – pay five days of pay for four days of work. This would
mean hiring 20% more employees to make up for the additional day off per week.
Funds for this would come from seriously reducing unemployment benefits and
welfare programs while also increasing income levels of these new employees,
which would create more sales tax revenue and income taxes. The government would
redirect these savings back to employers to give them the necessary income to
pay for the extra day off.
This plan would do many things to improve our lives. First off, the extra day
off would enhance leisure activities. Restaurants, hotels and most retailers
would benefit from having more customers come in during their extra day off.
Families would benefit because Mom and Dad would have one more day to spend with
their kids while also earning a higher income so that the stress of living on
the edge would be greatly reduced.
Technology is available to make our lives more efficient while offering the
ability to do more. Reducing our workweek and increasing the opportunity to
create more jobs can become another benefit of supporting technology instead of
letting technology ruin our lives by killing jobs.
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Written by: Hans Hansson
Hans Hansson is President of Starboard TCN Worldwide Real Estate Services as well as a member of the Board of Directors for TCN Worldwide Real Estate. Hans has been an active broker for over 26 years in the San Francisco Bay Area and specializes in office leasing and investments. If you have any questions or comments please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website, http://www.commercialspacefinder.com/.