Here some sources:
(Marshall Brain ...incase you don't know is the founder of the very popular site , "howstuffworks.com", his story is anecdotal but representative of why America really is shifting in how jobs are available)
"Baily and Lawrence released a paper in late 2004 that asserted that the manufacturing job loss
suffered between 2000 and 2003 was driven only minimally (about 12%) by a rising trade deficit."
What is so unique about that time? Why would productivity go UP and manufacturing go down? The answer lies in what happened in late 2000, the dot com bust so a recession hit the economy that forced *belt tightening* and cost saving maneuvers by companies. Historically this always happens after a bust, the waste is assessed and ways to save on old methods that failed are use to replace them. In 1995 most manufacturers had large factories filled with humans packing, stocking and shipping products to fulfill orders...today?
Robots take orders, robots retrieve product from shelves and robots package those products for delivery...humans only load the trucks and drive in advanced companies like Amazon, Walmart and others. These innovations started hitting the market...surprise surprise in the early thousands as companies looked for ways to reduce costs and boost profits in tough times.
That story by Marshall is a perfect example of how automation here is eliminating jobs, with a kiosk the job of a clerk behind the counter is eliminated and only the food makers matter...McDonald's can cut staff costs and make more profit and customers get faster service...win win. The workers are only enablers for two chief concerns, a) that the company make profit and b) that the consumer gets the service they are looking for...the workers do not factor into that mix and must cater to their own interests...within the interplay of the other two. It's how it is, how it always was. Any one that has believed an employer when they say they are looking out for them in a corporation are kidding themselves.
When I incorporated my company Apriority LLC I did it with a charter that would make explict two things. 1) I was going to try to hire as FEW people as possible. (yes, you read that righ) and 2) The few people I hired would be given equity in the company (meaning they would be owners not just workers).
If you don't get equity in a company you work for you are a disposable cog...that turns and turns and wears out while the vast machine of which you are a part services customers. True power is owning the machine.
As a software engineer *who is actively working on reducing the amount of work that humans have to do* I see the movement toward more automation as a VERY good thing. It enables the country to remain dynamic and competitive with emerging markets and it gives our people the *first* opportunity to tool up for the new type of economies that will be de regeur in the next few decades. Knowledge economies. If you aren't retooling yourself after that factory you used to work at closes down that is YOUR FAULT.
The country may owe you some basic services in return for your taxation but the world owes you NOTHING. If the thing you did all your life goes obsolete, learn something new and keep up. I believe that people should have a right to certain basics...especially in a nation as rich as the US but I also believe that people have an obligation to improve themselves for the benefit of themselves and their family yes, but also for the benefit of humanity.
The sooner we embrace this type of selflessness and throw ourselves full force into continuous improvement we will find happiness, contentment and success. The people that lost their jobs and sit in their homes behind the internet gnashing their teeth because they can't find a job doing the same thing are idiots that deserve the fate that befell them. Retool for the new economy or go extinct, it really is that simple. Companies are free to seek efficiency by enabling automation and going over seas, you are free to increase your value with respect to those around you by improving your skills. If the factory replaces you with robots...learn to build robots.
If you think there is a light at the end of the tunnel as far as manufacturing or manual jobs guess again. Any job that a human does now can be done by a robot or software so obviously everyone should be retooling NOW for robotics, AI and other types of automation in the various fields in which this automation will require service.
At some point, I predict about 50 years away we will reach what I call S.H.I. self healing infrastructure. At that point, robots and automation will literally do everything we need done for us and humans will be entirely pinched out of the production loop (even as designers) when that happens we should hope that a) the robots are our friends. and b) that the person or persons who control them is willing to emancipate them to the world in lieu of profits at some point in time.