The Onion (9/8/15)
WASHINGTON—Addressing the continued plight of the nation’s long-term unemployed, Labor Secretary Thomas E. Perez offered his assurances Tuesday that the United States still has plenty of job opportunities for people willing to outwork robots.
During a morning press conference, Perez told reporters that while he sympathizes with the frustration felt by out-of-work Americans, the nation currently has more than 8 million jobs open to anyone who will work harder, faster, and more dependably than an industrial robot specially designed to perform the same set of tasks.
“If you’re available 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and able to repeat an extremely precise sequence of movements up to 150 million times without pause, there is work for you in this economy,” said Perez, explaining that while labor force participation rates remain at a historic low, the number of open jobs for individuals who can assemble, drill, press-fit, and enamel items with exceptional speed and accuracy has only increased in recent years. “I’ve heard from employers across the country, and they have assured me these positions are up for grabs to any person with the ability to lift 250-ton payloads, bend steel plates into three-dimensional shapes, or withstand direct and continuous exposure to a variety of Level 4 biohazards.”
“Those are the kinds of occupations where we’re seeing a red-hot job market right now,” he added.
The labor secretary acknowledged that 10.3 percent of the U.S. labor force is currently either unemployed or working part-time because they can’t find full-time work, a statistic he described as “unfortunate and unnecessary” in a nation where, he noted, there are tens of thousands of jobs available to workers willing to perform more than 80,000 consecutive arc-welding operations without deviating a single millimeter from their intended mark, and without ever stopping for food, sleep, or a day off.
While Perez confirmed that workers with traditional manufacturing skills will continue to face a lean employment market that has shrunk some 35 percent since the late 1970s, he said the outlook is much brighter for those who can exert a clamping force greater than 4.5 million pounds on injection molds.
“Once you’ve surpassed the production output of the most sophisticated robots currently operating in American factories, the sky’s the limit, and you should have no problem securing long-term employment and supporting your family,” Perez said. “If, for example, you know how to pick up a sheet metal blank with your bare hands and turn it into a finished automotive component in less than 37 seconds, you should definitely start getting your résumé out to car manufacturers. There are hundreds of jobs waiting out there for you.”
Perez announced plans for an outreach program aimed at the estimated 40 percent of unemployed Americans who have given up looking for work, an initiative he said will educate people about the wealth of available jobs that require them to detect radiation in the long-infrared range of the electromagnetic spectrum, endure temperatures of up to 320 degrees Fahrenheit, or assemble highly radioactive components inside a nuclear facility.
But even for people who are not physically capable of working in an oxygen-free environment or spotting an object six inches in diameter from an altitude of 20,000 feet, there are still many employment opportunities out there, according to the labor secretary.
“If you’re unable to outperform a robot as a manual laborer, there are plenty of jobs that allow you to make a living with your brain rather than your hands,” Perez said. “As long as you can sit at a desk and complete in excess of 34 quadrillion calculations per second in your head, I guarantee you will be able to find work.”Perez says individuals who can precisely install more than 60,000 rivets per day in aircraft-grade aluminum have their choice of thousands of jobs throughout the U.S.