Technological Unemployment Is On The Way And It Can't Come Fast Enough
We have been following the situation developing between employers and employees. The remote work idea is taking hold, at least with many workers. Companies, on the other hand, are mixed about the concept. Some are embracing whereas others like Apple and JPMorgan are pushing their workers back to the office.
The economy, according to experts, is on fire. It great last quarter at the fastest pace in 20 years. Of course, it is worthwhile to add that it grew from a point where much of the economy was locked down. So the year-over-year numbers can be misleading. But, hey, why mess up a great storyline with facts.
We also just saw a tremendous jobs reports out of the United States. The hiring in June was terrific with more than 800K people going back to work. There is the one problem that the participation rate is still 7 million below where it was when COVID hit.
Many seem to feel there are a lot of jobs out there. That is true. There is also a lot of quitting going on. Basically, employees are questioning their values and whether being married to a company is in their best interest.
At the core of this fight is the hospitality industry which saw a lot of layoffs during COVID.
Workers Won't Come Back
Restaurants claim they cannot find workers. They assert that jobs are being unfilled because people do not want to work. Actually, the reality is people do not want to work for what they are offering.
Here is a headline from Business Insider:
This from the same article:
Businesses are tired of waiting for workers and are increasingly turning to automation instead.
So workers are not willing to work for what employers are offering so they are turning to automation. A month ago, I wrote an article detailing why employees refusing to return to these jobs is a good thing.
In short the employer-employee relationship became completely one-sided. All actions favored the employer, who also had the clout to get this backed up through laws coming out of Washington. Now that there was a global shutdown, people are re-evaluating what they are going to do with their lives.
One of the biggest issues in the United States is that over the past two decades, we created a lot of jobs. The problem is that most of them were total bullshit.
The country, or more accurately those in leadership, were concerned with job numbers. They did not care about the quality of jobs nor how the people were treated. Again, since all was tilted in favor of the employers, they were able to suck all they could out of the workforce. This is only getting worse with automation as evidenced by some of the complaints lobbied against the likes of Amazon.
Is it any surprise that worker satisfaction is below 25%? More than 4 out of 5 people, according to surveys, hate their jobs. Hence it is time to get rid of them.
In other words, the bullshit jobs need to go.
Unfortunately, since corporations were able to depend upon this cheap labor, they got lazy in terms of technology. They did not innovate and now find themselves in a position where they are having issues.
Many view this concept as a negative. They believe that people losing their jobs in large numbers is a bad thing. The reality is that these jobs mostly suck and should be eliminated. It is better to get it over with than drag it out.
In the above article, we see that many restaurants are turning to automation in this time of labor difficulty. Well, it is about time. This is a much better option for the organization since they can pay for the technology once and be done with it. No need to deal with employee turnover, the HR department, and people calling in sick.
This also should help to lower the cost, which eventually could find their way into the pricing to its customers. Overall it is a major victory for all.
Except, of course, for the people out of work.
This is the crux of the issue and one that most are refusing to approach. For this reason, it is better to have it happen sooner rather than drag it out.
Many seem to feel that this is the wrong view since, after all, technology always created more jobs than it destroyed. The problem with that concept is two-fold:
- we never had technology moving this quickly
- the job gains happened over decades so there were short-term disruptions
Hence, even if more jobs are created by, say, 2040, that does not help the people in the next few years.
How will society handle this? It is something that is avoided. Few want to deal with freeloaders, lazy people, and those who want to sit home. Of course, they feel that way until it happens to them or a member of their family. Then, technological unemployment isn't something that is a result of being lazy.
Right now we are seeing restaurant workers in the crosshairs. However, this is spreading fast. In fact, white collar workers are going to feel the effects even more. Software is moving at such a pace that tasks are being easily replaced. Automate enough tasks and a job goes away.
So how are we going to deal with tens of millions being out of work due to corporations automating? This is not something that we are going to answer until it happens. It seems we made that point abundantly clear since every attempt at the discussion is cut off. It only makes sense since politicians stand nothing to gain until it truly happens.
However, when the floodgates open, we are going to see a massive push for action. Right now, we have a few markets that are propping things up. However, we know at some point construction and real estate are going to slow. Once that happens, a lot of jobs will be lost quickly.
Perhaps then we will start to have a serious conversation about a world where jobs are rapidly automated. Of course, we saw this happen over the past 30 years in the blue collar, manufacturing realm. But then again, who cares about those uneducated people.
Well, this time we will see hit happen to the white collar sector. Then we will see if the attitudes change.
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