Berkeley Planning Journal
Theories of Labor and Industrial Location
- Author(s): Egan, Edmund A.
- et al.
Published Web Locationhttps://doi.org/10.5070/BP38113088
In the past 20 years, the threat of competition from low-wage coun tries in the Third World has been a recurring theme in the discourse of American economic policy. After two decades of job losses in the key manufacturing sectors of the postwar economy, as we strive to under stand the new dynamics of metropolitan labor markets, regional forma tions and shifts, and try to plan for our economic future, many are quick to point to high American wages with a kind of fatalism.
Notwithstanding the fact that most of the real competitive ground has been lost to other developed countries, it is the recurring image of a Korean or Mexican worker, willing to work for a fraction of Ameri can wages, which continues to haunt debates in a number of fields: trade policy, where opposition to the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) is precipitated by a desire to protect higher-wage American workers; education policy, where a workforce prepared for the "high-tech jobs of the future• is widely seen as an imperative even before these jobs exist en masse; social policy, where excessive taxa tion and regulation, producing an •unfriendly business climate: can ostensibly drive industries to the far corners of the Earth.