News & Research Archive

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 families.

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

E-mail: hans@starboardnet.com


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 hans@starboardnet.com or call him at (415) 765-6897. You may also check out his website, http://www.commercialspacefinder.com/.

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