Newsletter vol. 9: 2020s Outlook – Best of Times and Worst of Times

December 17, 2019
Image by Markéta Machová from Pixabay

December 17, 2019

Hi there,

The year draws to a close and we can only hope the next decade is as prosperous as the Roaring 20s from a century ago (without the depression that followed, of course). In this, the final newsletter of 2019, we're looking at what the future holds for U.S. workers.

A recent article in the New York Times reports that innovation jobs in aerospace, technology, pharmaceuticals and the like are clustering in just a few superstar cities, leaving others to flounder. And the Wall Street Journal published a forecast indicating that the number of factory workers with college degrees will soon surpass those without as more manufacturing jobs require higher education. Keep scrolling for more on these eye-opening stories.

Happy Holidays from Cluster and we'll see you next year!  

Kim Taylor
CEO, Cluster

     Educational Attainment of US Manufacturing Workers

Data: US Census/Wall Street Journal

Source: NASA

U.S. Factory Jobs Now Require a College Degree
  • In three years, U.S. manufacturing workers with college degrees will outnumber those without. This according to a report in the Wall Street Journal highlighting how manufacturing jobs now require more advanced skills, driving up the education level of factory workers who in past generations could get by without higher education.
  • U.S. manufacturers have added more than a million jobs since the recession. A shift toward automation means that these jobs require complex problem-solving skill found in industrial engineers and other highly educated technical professionals. Nearly 41% of manufacturing workers have a college degree, up from 22% in 1991.
  • The new, more advanced manufacturing jobs pay more, but are inaccessible to workers who ended their schooling early. Specialized job requirements have narrowed the path to the middle class that factory work once afforded.
  • In the years to come, investments in automation will continue expanding factory production with fewer employees. American factories are more productive than ever and require a third fewer workers than the nearly 20 million employed in 1979, the industry’s labor peak.
  • For illustration: Caterpillar reported that it had 10,000 unionized workers at the end of 2018, down from 15,000 in 2007. During the same period, the equipment maker’s revenue climbed 20%.

         more here >>

Just a Handful of Cities Are Accumulating Innovation Jobs
  • 13 innovation industries including aerospace, communications equipment production, chemicals, pharmaceuticals, semiconductors and data processing have been key drivers in America's economic expansion, accounting for 3% of all jobs but 6% of national output.  
  • A new report from the Brookings Institution has found that just five urban areas (Boston, Seattle, San Diego, San Francisco and Silicon Valley) captured nine out of 10 jobs created in these industries from 2005 to 2017. On the other end, about half of America’s 382 metro areas, including big cities like Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia, lost such jobs.
  • Industries cluster in cities where there are lots of highly educated workers, sophisticated suppliers and research institutions. The concentration of prosperity is only growing, creating a small set of metropolitan "haves" and a much larger set of "have nots." The report's authors suggest that federal action is needed to spread the business of invention beyond the top dominating cities.
  • To counteract the strong forces driving concentration, the government would need to make R&D investments in the less prosperous cities, give high-tech businesses in these cities tax and regulatory breaks, and even grant a limited break from antitrust laws to allow businesses to coordinate location decisions.
  • The proposal offered by Brookings to extend innovation hubs to the "have not" cities would cost an estimated $100 billion over ten years. But inaction, the authors contend, also has a price as superstar cities would only grow more congested and less affordable, while the rest of the nation would grow increasingly poorer.

          more here >>

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Upcoming Events in SoCal


Jan 12 : Public Telescopes and Star Parties
Griffith Observatory
Los Angeles
No telescope? No problem. Join the Griffith Observatory for its free monthly Public Star Party where you can gaze at the heavens using a wide variety of telescopes provided by the observatory. Makes a great date night or fun outing for the whole family. Info

Jan 22:  LAEDC Future Forum: Space Commercialization
Cross Campus El Segundo
El Segundo
The Los Angeles Economic Development Corporation (LAEDC) is bringing together space companies and thought leaders to explore technology and workforce needs in Los Angeles County. The CEO of Virgin Galactic, George T. Whitesides, will be the keynote speaker. Info

Check out our calendar for all the latest SoCal events here

Installation of Saturn IB S-IVB  for the Apollo mission. Huntington Beach, CA. 1967
Source: NASA

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