Fail or Flourish: American Workers, Globalization, and Automation

32 Pages Posted: 2 Mar 2020

See all articles by Daniel T. Griswold

Daniel T. Griswold

Mercatus Center at George Mason University

Date Written: January 30, 2020


It is often asserted that, for most American workers, real wages and incomes have been “stagnant” for decades, but evidence shows that the large majority of US workers are better off today than in past decades. Increased trade, globalization, and technological innovation have helped to raise wages and incomes. US economic policy should not aim to regulate or slow a dynamic labor market, but instead to help the minority of American workers who have been displaced or more permanently disconnected from the labor force. Policy initiatives should focus on upgrading the skills of US workers, promoting mobility, eliminating government-created barriers to employment and disincentives to work, reducing addiction and unnecessary incarcerations, and other policy reforms—with the goal of equipping US workers to thrive in a more open and technologically advanced economy.

Keywords: labor market, skills, adjustment, displacement, jobs, employment, automation, productivity, real wages, trade, globalization, technological change

JEL Classification: F0, J3, O3

Suggested Citation

Griswold, Daniel T., Fail or Flourish: American Workers, Globalization, and Automation (January 30, 2020). Mercatus Research Paper, Available at SSRN: or

Daniel T. Griswold (Contact Author)

Mercatus Center at George Mason University ( email )

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United States

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