How to respond to people who lose wages because of interruptions in their career

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:, or follow me on Twitter.

In the West, we are lucky to face two problems that have one solution:

1.) Motherhood contributes the gender gap

2.) Middle age men lose their factory jobs to automation, and never again get as good a job

In short, any interruption in one’s career causes wages to go down, and if you are over the age of 40, there is a good chance your wages won’t catch up to where they might have been if your career had never suffered an interruption.

What we should want to avoid, as a society, is a scenario where a guy is making $25 an hour at a factory, is laid off, and ends up making $10 an hour at the local WalMart. Likewise, the woman who was a project manager making $80,000 a year, but now can not get hired.

So this really isn’t two separate problems, it is one problem. And there is a solution: increased specialization in various fields. In many fields, such as medicine, this requires changes in the law, and certainly it would require a new attitude on the part of employers. But it should be possible to put an unemployed 45 year old through a 6 month training that gives them a highly specialized skill that can still get a reasonable wage.

In the USA, 74% of the adult population does not have a college degree. That is the vast majority. And they deserve to have great careers, just like people with college degrees. The notion that more education is the answer to the USA’s economic problems is a little misguided. More training, sure, but not necessarily for white collar jobs. There are only so many white collar jobs to go around. There has to be something else in the economy.