Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`The Europeans Have Not Even Begun to Address This Issue' Nobel Winner Lauds U.S. Productivity

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

`The Europeans Have Not Even Begun to Address This Issue' Nobel Winner Lauds U.S. Productivity

Article excerpt

Over the past 15 years, American businesses have gone through rough, even brutal, downsizing with single corporations laying off tens of thousands of white-collar and blue-collar employees at a time.

As heavy, smoke-stack manufacturing firms are replaced with high-tech companies and upscale service firms, making a job change is difficult for many people. But it can be done, argues Arno A. Penzias, the Nobel Prize-winning vice president and chief scientist of Lucent Technologies and Bell Labs.

"We lose some four million jobs a year (in the United States) - but we create some five million jobs a year," said Penzias, who won the Noble Prize for physics in 1978 for his work on the "Big Bang Theory" for the creation of the universe. "Also remember that these new jobs that are being created are not just hamburger-flippers at one end and high-salaried postions at the other and nothing in between," Penzias said. "There are many well paying jobs in the middle." Moreover, the United States is far ahead of the rest of the industrialized world in making this critical change to improve productivity to maintain global competitiveness. "An American railroad worker is five times as productive as his German counterpart," Penzias said. "The Europeans have not even begun to address this (productivity) issue." Even Japan, with its highly productive auto plants, has economic sectors which lag far behind the United States in productivity, in particular farming, retail and the banking and service industries, he said. Penzias gave the keynote address for a scholarship fund-raising luncheon on Thursday for Ranken Technical College. Penzias argues that the United States, for all of its social and political problems, is still in the best economic position for expansion in the 21st century. "Our universities and research facilities are second to none," Penzias said. …

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