Thursday, July 19, 2018
Editorials

Editorial: Workers facing familiar challenges this Labor Day

This Labor Day finds the American workplace as a picture in contrasts — as employment, wages and other signs point to a strengthening economy, anxieties exist over automation, globalization and a disconnect in the historic relationship between employers and employees. None of this is particularly new; these trends have been around for years. But the uncertainties are forcing many Americans to redefine their place and goals in life as careers become more transactional and as the market continually changes the skill sets required to succeed.

In the big picture, America's recovery is holding firm, and the growth in housing, wages and other areas seems sustainable. The red-hot stock market may be due for a pullback soon, but with U.S. corporate earnings strong and consumers still confident, it would take an unforeseen crisis to sidetrack the momentum now. Even the threat of a government shutdown over the federal debt seems more like political bluster than reality. After the heavy scars of the recession, Americans seem grateful for a break. There is a greater sense of possibility.

Yet millions of Americans are still clawing back from the losses of the past decade, and cities and the job market have forever changed. Robots and innovation have eliminated factory jobs, and the manufacturing belt struggles to compete against lower-wage foreign workers. Retirements by aging baby boomers have created some openings on the corporate ladder for younger employees and helped create the biggest new job market — for health care aides. But the generational shift has also changed the dynamics and culture of the workforce, as employers outsource more tasks and as younger workers seek a better work-life balance.

The remedies are the same ones talked about for years — new job training programs, expanded access to business capital and changes to the tax code to spur entrepreneurial activity. Cities and states are getting into the action, creating "incubators" to clump like-minded industries together to create local hubs of research and production. The Trump administration threatens to stall the effort with proposed cuts to the Labor Department and job-training programs. The business community in many areas has responded by filling the gap with new internships and mentoring programs.

It's no wonder workers feel whipsawed by the impacts of the recession and the threat of competition from global trade. A Pew Research Center study last year noted "tectonic changes" reshaping the U.S. workplace. It found that Americans had come to the conclusion they needed a "lifetime commitment" to job retraining. And despite all the challenges that global markets and technology posed for U.S. workers, they were a net positive overall. That's hardly an endorsement of protectionism.

Pew also found that demands for new skill sets may work to the benefit of women, who account for most jobs where analytical skills are important. That could be a great leveler in shrinking the gender pay gap. For every threat the new economic order poses, it also has the prospect of bringing positive social change to the United States and the global order.

Labor Day has become a day for many Americans to enjoy a long weekend, bid farewell to summer, shop for deals on mattresses or cars or to prepare for fall. It is a holiday many use to get away from work, not to think about where their careers are going. But it's important today to honor the contribution workers make by getting up and out the door every day. It helps reaffirm the sense of responsibility that built this country.

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Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

Editorial: Scott should order investigation of concealed weapons permitting

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Editorial: Algae blooms, toll woes and beach battles -- Florida’s fouled up summer

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Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Editorial: Sacrificing two kayaks and a Toyota for free speech

Maggy Hurchalla joked this spring that all she could offer a billionaire who won a $4.4 million judgment against her after she exercised her free speech rights were "two kayaks and an aging Toyota.’’ The billionaire didn’t laugh. This week, Martin Co...
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Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

Editorial: Trump sides with Putin over America

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Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

Editorial: A vote for preserving waterfront parks by St. Petersburg City Council

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Published: 07/13/18
Editorial: Personal bias taints Florida’s clemency system

Editorial: Personal bias taints Florida’s clemency system

A recent exchange between the governor and Cabinet and a felon seeking to have his civil rights restored underscores the arbitrary unfairness of Florida’s clemency system. A long waiting period, a ridiculous backlog of cases and elected officials who...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/13/18

Trump should work with Congress on immigration

Donald Trump’s resounding victory in the 2016 presidential election came at least in part because the New York businessman grasped the disconnect between how millions of Americans and the political establishments of both parties felt about immigratio...
Published: 07/11/18
Updated: 07/13/18
Editorial: Trump’s trade war hurts American consumers

Editorial: Trump’s trade war hurts American consumers

Voters who looked to Donald Trump to make America great might want to look at their wallets. The president escalated his global trade war this week, threatening new tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports — everything from seafood, beef and ...
Published: 07/11/18
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Editorial: Rays stadium cost should be fairly shared

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Updated: 07/12/18