When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

03 July 2005

NYT: Cutting losses from outsourcing

The Armchair M.B.A. interviews Ron Hira, assistant professor of public policy at the Rochester Institute of Technology and author of Outsourcing America: What's Behind Our National Crisis and How We Can Reclaim American Jobs. Excerpt:

Q. How well do retraining efforts work?

A. Most people think retraining doesn't work very well. We need to start experimenting with free training programs right away because there is a new class of workers who are being displaced. They are no longer blue-collar workers. These workers have degrees, sometimes advanced degrees, in computer science or engineering.

Over the longer term, we need basic things like gathering some data. The Department of Commerce spent $335,000 to do one outsourcing study, and that hasn't been released yet. When the government spends almost $1 trillion a year, it's pretty surprising they can't come up with more money to study this problem.

Q. Should companies face penalties for eliminating jobs?

A. There's a reasonable case to be made to extend the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act to these situations. The idea is to give some advance notification to workers that they're going to be laid off. That gives those workers enough time to begin the adjustment process. Companies don't like this. It's in their self-interest to keep it secret until the end. Companies would look at extending the WARN Act as a penalty. I would look at that as smart economics.

[emphasis and links added - bc]
Since we don't have reliable numbers from the government about the extent of offshoring's economic impact, we must for the time being rely on tools like TechsUnite.org's Offshore Tracker.

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