Here is what scares me about the future of the United States economy and job and real estate markets. When I read about “virtual staging”, an innovative way to promote housing listings, the first thing I thought about was if there was an opportunity to outsource it to India, cranking up the profit margin. Surely we don’t need to pay the labor rate of a Parsons-trained designer who drinks $7 lattes and rents a $6,000 a month loft in SoHo to do this sleight of hand. Rather, we can give the Indian (or other developing country national) worker the photos of the bare apartment and the link to the Pottery Barn site and ask them to have it done by morning (and they will).
But if our first impulse as U.S. businesspeople is to give work to non-U.S. firms, how on earth are we ever going to get back the 8 million jobs we lost (and then actually create net new jobs), creating real, sustained demand for housing and commercial real estate again?
When you add to that the incredible hunger of those in the developing world who have these valuable digital skill sets, it is bleak and depressing.
When I recently put a posting up on Elance for a website project, I got deluged with proposals from non-U.S. providers, and subsequently hounded by them. The U.S. providers didn’t display that same initial or ongoing hunger and drive. I can relate to Thomas Friedman’s concerns. Can you?