Robert Reich, former Secretary of Labor under President Clinton and prolific author and filmmaker, has written a blog post in which he suggests the great bargains shoppers are enjoying can be detrimental to the economy and the American people.
Noting that online sales are up 20 percent over last year, Reich makes the case that the most important website at this moment is not Healthcare.gov, but rather Amazon.com.
Americans are getting great deals online, and they like the convenience. But there’s a hidden price. With the growth of online retailing, fewer Americans will have jobs in bricks-and-mortar retail stores.
Amazon announced last summer it would add 5,000 new jobs to the 20,000 it already has. But not even 25,000 Amazon jobs come near to replacing the hundreds of thousands of retail jobs Amazon has already wiped out, and the hundreds of thousands more it will eliminate in the future.
To put this in some perspective you need to know that retail jobs have been the fastest growing of all job categories since the recession ended in 2009. But given the rapid growth of online retailing, that trend can’t possibly last. What will Americans do when online sales take over?
Add to this the fact that most of what’s being sold this holiday season — online and off-line — is no longer made by Americans. Vast shipping containers of gadgets, garments, and other goodies are fabricated or assembled or sewed together in Asia for the American market.