Job growth areas without a college degree: Part 1 of American jobs investigation

I’m working on a complex bit of research about jobs in America & trade agreements. It’s highly complex and involves robots, unions, and Formula 1 racing.

I’ll start with the question I really want answered:

What does a person do who cannot afford or chooses not to attend college?

I recall  as a youngster in the 1970s, that for many non-college folks, work was in factories or around big industrial machinery.

My dad was a welder and worked in enormous factories. At 3-4 years old, I got to see how industrial amounts of ice blocks were made: an entire floor opened up, water steamed, then was supercooled to eventually make huge blocks of ice that came down a chute and were wrestled by hand with ice tongs; terrifying but fascinating. I also saw how butter and ice cream were mass produced in the days when ice cream came in boxes.

It’s why I have an analytical and curious mind-I’m fascinated by big machines (hello amazing drilling ship!) & how things work.

I remember seeing films of assembly lines of the 1970s of automakers.

A person could make a good living, have a pension, and the American dream.

I began to watch YouTube videos of modern car-making of the biggest components-body frame, interior, engine blocks and transmissions. via @youtube‬

One thing struck me: it was nearly all ROBOTS. Robots can do the work of 8 people 5x faster than humans, costs $103,000/year to operate ($12,000 per worker essentially), and “doesn’t need a smoke break”. 


Technology came to the fore, and unions may have become too powerful in their demands. Many car manufacturers moved to right-to-work states like Tennessee where unions no longer had a stronghold. 

Another barrier to US manufacturing? Corporate tax of 35%. The highest in the world. In comparison, Ireland’s is only 8%. Check your dental floss-bet it still comes from Ireland.

Will the auto jobs of the past return to Detroit?

Not in the same sense. Not the whole car. Machines build machines now.

Large parts like transmissions seem to need a more hands-on approach and GM and Ford teamed up to make a 10 speed transmission in the US in Michigan. This is s change from the imported Japanese and German 8 speed transmissions of most cars on American roads today. The first commercially available 10 speeds got rolled out in 2017 in the Ford F-150. This means increased fuel efficiency as will pre-ignition mini chambers next to pistons in the future. F1 is currently testing this technology. Think if it as igniting perfume spray instead of liquid-incredible amount of improvement in fuel efficiency in the future.

How many people will building transmissions employ? I don’t know yet, but it seems promising.

Once I saw ALL THE ROBOTS, I wrongly assumed that the robots would need Maintenence techs. They really don’t. Job growth there is expected to be nearly flat at round 2% to 2025.

So, what are the growing industries for non-college folks?

Klipinger took a stab at this: (plumbers, electricians, app support to name a few):

In the next post, I investigate how much of my car was made in America and where auto parts come from.


One thought on “Job growth areas without a college degree: Part 1 of American jobs investigation

  1. I’m so please to see your interest in automobile production methods and the effect on jobs. I too doubt that the American laborer will every again have the prosperity of the 1950’s to 1990’s. Automation has become the most reliable worker in all forms of industry. Even the most delicate medical procedures are made possible by robots because they have a more precise steady hand.

    Regarding F1 testing the pre-ignition chamber, it has been used commercially in diesel engines for a long time and Honda introduced a gasoline version in 1970 calling it Compound Vortex Controlled Combustion (CVCC). F1 Mercedes Benz has been using this design on their F1 engines since the 2014 rule change to V6 Turbo engines with electric regeneration systems. And dominating the race series.

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