Big changes are coming to the American economy and Ryan Watts says we better start preparing for them, now.
For example, driverless vehicle technology threatens to replace the tens of thousands of people who make their living driving trucks or cabs (even Uber) now.
“That's actually what I do for a living. I work with companies that are implementing technology but working with companies to say, 'Hey, it's actually more cost-effective to invest in your workforce, to retrain.' So, we've really got to have a forward-thinking mindset,” said Watts, a graduate of UNC-Chapel Hill who is taking on two-term incumbent, Mark Walker for North Carolina’s 6th congressional district seat.
Walker has seen much of the same need to help the most-vulnerable workers in the state and he says part of that is to make sure the businesses that hire them remain viable.
“I go across this central part of North Carolina that I represent in DC, a lot of employers are telling me we need more semi-skilled workers that start at $13, $14, $15 an hour,” Walker said.
The first step, Walker says, was to reform the tax code to allow small businesses to thrive.
“There are other areas that we can look at over a 10 to 12-year place to reform,” Walker said. “We're not saying rip the rug out from people overnight, but I'm talking about going after some of the mandatory spending that is two-thirds of our spending now. Think about that: Our discretionary spending is down to about 35 percent. That's education, infrastructure, military defense. That number keeps shrinking.”
Watts, meanwhile, says among the things he wants to concentrate on include finding ways to help workers increase their wages.
“Over the course of time, worker productivity increased up over 1,000 percent over the last 50 years and wages have gone up 13-15 percent, depending on where you're looking,” Watts said. “So, obviously, workers are more productive and are not being compensated for that.”