Blue-collar knowledge workers will save the economy

I got into a conversation on tumblr about unemployment in the US, and how to fix it. Jakke's conclusion was pretty bleak: So the way things are going right now it looks like skilled workers (especially people like programmers) can expect their prospects to remain pretty decent and unskilled workers can expect their prospects to remain dismal. And the kind of policy changes it would take to make a difference are definitely not forthcoming. What he's talking about is a serious structural problem with the employment market in the US. The US unemployment rate is 8.1% right now. But if you break apart that number, there are some huge differences by industry. Here's a worrying graph of the last decade: (data and source) Let's break this down quickly: The general unemployment rate for "knowledge" professions -- medical, financial, managerial -- is actually pretty low: between 3% and 5%, and it never rose above 5%. There was a slowdown, for sure, but 5% unemployment is still pretty good times, historically...
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