Giving Compass' Take:

• Brookings Institute examines the decline in manufacturing employment due to automation and the erosion of protections for workers, especially in the Midwest.

• What can we do to make sure those displaced by automation and other technology can still build a livelihood? It may start with more flexible work arrangements.

• Here's how apprenticeships could help solve employment problems.

Industrial transformation, brought on by global trade, new digital technologies, and changes in the structure of work, have hit Rust Belt communities hard. Some places, such as Pittsburgh and Kalamazoo, have gone through painful transitions and come out the other side. However, the majority of the Rust Belt’s older industrial cities continue to struggle with job loss and weak economic growth.

The collapse of the region’s labor-intensive manufacturing-based economy took its toll on the employment-based safety net protections that Midwestern employers and unions forged after World War II. Today, employer-based systems of health insurance, pensions, and unemployment insurance serve fewer and fewer Midwestern workers.

For Rust Belt workers and communities today and in the future, economic security policies must become more flexible and suited to a fast-changing economy. This will require balancing support for technological innovation with concerted efforts to reduce the costs of dislocation for people and places bearing the brunt of change.

Read the full article about rebuilding the employment security system for the Rust Belt by John C. Austin and Richard Kazis at Brookings.