If you're going to have an opinion on our president elect, you probably need to know some numbers.
I grew up in the Midwest and I'm all too familiar with the lack of economic opportunity in small town America. I like it when I see things like Trump calling up Apple CEO Tim Cook and declaring they're going to find a way together to make iPhones in America.
Of course, the devil is in the details about on-shoring more manufacturing in America that has gone to other parts of the world. I was in a hotel room last Thursday morning and saw this gem of a chart and about threw up (email subscribers, enable images or click through for picture):
So there are three types of lies, right? Lies, damn lies and statistics. I don't know much about the efficacy of things like tariffs and other trade tools. But I know labor costs are always going to be a primary consideration in where the work goes.
Let's assume for a second this chart is 100% accurate. What immediately comes to mind for me is the fact that a lot of the pain is going to change again in the next 20 years.
What happens when self-driving trucks take over the trucking industry and displace millions of trucking jobs?
There are approximately 3.5 million professional truck drivers in the United States, according to estimates by the American Trucking Association. The total number of people employed in the industry, including those in positions that do not entail driving, exceeds 8.7 million. About one of every 15 workers in the country is employed in the trucking business, according to the ATA.
Countless families in the midwest who once held jobs in manufacturing reacted to offshoring by - you guessed it - hitting the road to become truck drivers.
You can't say that driving a truck cross-country is your first choice from a work/life balance perspective and raising a family. But you do it to provide, and it's a reasonable pivot when there are no jobs left in your rural area that pay a decent wage if your highest diploma is of the high school variety.
Again, I don't know world trade. But I know workforces. While you're trying to put middle America back to work, it seems like the smart play is to figure out what another 1 in 15 Americans will do once self-driving trucks take over for human drivers.
Tough issue. If the chart above almost made me hurl, there's a future chart about former truck drives displaced by self-driving trucks that's going to make me curl up in a fetal position.