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Greenspan notes 'unease' about jobs

20th February 2004 - CNN.COM

Central bank chairman says worker education is the key to helping displaced workers find jobs.
By Mark Gongloff, CNN/Money Staff Writer.

NEW YORK (CNN/Money) - Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said Friday that the steady movement of U.S. jobs offshore should help the economy in the long run, but that American workers needed to be better-prepared to take whatever higher-skilled jobs come along to replace the lost jobs.

Greenspan noted that, in recent years, new technology has helped businesses produce more with fewer workers, while globalization has led to an increasing flow of U.S. jobs moving overseas.

This process is good for the broader economy in the long run, he said, helping to raise standards of living, but is causing "inevitable stresses and anxieties" in the short run.

"There is a palpable unease that businesses and jobs are being drained from the United States, with potentially adverse long-run implications for unemployment and the standard of living of the average American," Greenspan said in prepared remarks delivered to the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce.

His solution to the problem, as he told Congress last week, is to do a better job of educating American workers.

"The capacity of workers, after being displaced, to find a new job that will eventually provide nearly comparable pay most often depends on the general knowledge of the worker and the ability of that individual to learn new skills," Greenspan said.

He said this process has been working in the U.S. economy for many decades, helping workers find new work and pushing wages steadily higher, and he saw no reason why it should stop now.

"Over the long sweep of American generations and waves of economic change, we simply have not experienced a net drain of jobs to advancing technology or to other nations," he said.

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