The Dire Outlook For Middle Class Jobs in the U.S. And Other Top Stories on LinkedIn This Week

January 27, 2012

Is SOPA really dead? If you believe Mashable's headline in what is our most shared story of the week, the Stop Online Piracy Act has moved on to its final resting place. But if you read the words of the act's chief sponsor, Texas Rep. Lamar Smith, it sounds more like SOPA is just getting smelling salts in the corner. "It is clear that we need to revisit the approach," says Smith. "Congress cannot stand by and do nothing while American innovators and job creators are under attack." This is the second week in a row that SOPA news has topped the professional conversation. Last week, workers from all industries shared articles about the Internet taking on Hollywood (with Congress trying to measure the shifting winds). This week, most of the sharing was done in industries that would have been impacted by SOPA: largely, software, online, publishing, and TV and film. The rest of the working world had turned to other matters. For instance, would there be jobs for them, and if there were, would those jobs require them to live in a dormitory in China? Here's the list:

Top 5 most-shared articles on LinkedIn (Jan 19, 2012 - Jan. 26, 2012) Follow @LinkedInToday

  1. SOPA Is Dead: Smith Pulls Bill (Mashable)
  2. Seth Godin: If You're An Average Worker, You're Going Straight To The Bottom (BusinessInsider)
  3. McDonald's Twitter Campaign Goes Horribly Wrong #McDStories (BusinessInsider)
  4. Online Ad Spending to Surpass Print for First Time in 2012 (Mashable)
  5. Culture Eats Strategy For Lunch (FastCompany)

It was Seth Godin, marketing consultant and prolific author, who was the harbinger of bad news on the jobs front. "If you're an average guy doing average work, a company is going to find someone to do the job in India for cheaper." Said Godin:

2012 isn't going to be more of the same, it's going to be worse.

Why? Because we're not in a cyclical recession, but a "forever recession" caused by the end of the industrial revolution. The the only way to make good money is for workers to invent their own jobs rather than counting on finding low level or middle management positions that will pay well. Perhaps not surprisingly, the article resonated with industries that either delivered that message in form of cost-savings mandates, or had plenty of middle management positions still being filled: management consulting, banking, financial services and consumer goods. And while it didn't grab the overall top spot, a New York Times story about the factories in China that make iPhones showed the other side of Godin's barbell-shaped world: the place where unskilled jobs have migrated. They're gone for good, says BusinessInsider's Henry Blodget. Writes Blodget, summarizing the Times piece:

So, yes, money is part of why all of our gadgets are built in China. But what started a couple of decades ago as a reach for efficiency has now resulted in the entire electronics-manufacturing ecosystem being lifted up and transferred to China. Apple doesn't build iPhones in the United States, in other words, because there is no longer an ecosystem here to support that manufacturing.

One thing for those who are thinking of making the move to China, whether to set up factories or work in them, it's probably best to avoid sneaking over any fine wine. The most-shared story in the wine and spirits industry was a article about a Chinese exec given life in prison (life!) for not paying import duties on over 70,000 bottles of wine, possibly including Chateau Lafite and Chateau Latour.  His defense:

The punitive tax rate of up to 50% on wine left him no choice but to smuggle.

Here are the most shared stories by professionals in the following industries: