Conditions and terms of work in the United States have seen a decades‐long decline, making a steady and progressive work life increasingly difficult to achieve. The reasons include the ascendant conservative opposition to the social safety net and job security, competitive pressures due to globalization and most of all, the decline of US manufacturing. It resulted in the loss of millions of middle skill jobs, the eclipse of much of heavy industry and, as science and technology were increasingly pre‐empted by the military sector, a lag in commercial product innovation. Rising productivity is often cited as an offset, but the measures used are shown to be largely spurious and irrelevant, reflecting the explosion of overhead in the “information age” and rising need to respond to complications elsewhere in society. There are more constructive alternatives like infrastructure renewal, but these are now nowhere in prospect.
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