Automation, once thought to be a job-killer, is actually saving them

This article offers a few good updates about automation. However, we should not ignore social benefit of the automation to us, human. Check out other references listed after my citations about why.

There is no arguments that, when there is enough demand, automation helps businesses to meet that demand. It is, when demand drops, automation starts to hurt.

The surge in e-commerce has required the rapid build-out of a vast network of warehouses and delivery systems that include both robots and human workers. The robots didn’t take jobs from people, because many of the jobs didn’t exist before.

But worries about a “retail apocalypse” have missed a more important trend: E-commerce actually leads to more jobs by paying people to do things we used to do ourselves. When people shop online, tasks that once filled their days — driving to a store, searching through aisles for a product, taking it to a cashier and paying for it — are now done by warehouse employees and truck drivers. That means the bankruptcies and store closings in the retail sector aren’t the complete picture. While jobs have been lost in stores, many more have been gained from online shopping.

Since 2014, Amazon has deployed 100,000 robots in 25 warehouses worldwide. At the same time, it has nearly tripled its hourly workforce, from roughly 45,000 to nearly 125,000.

The explosion of online commerce is also building demand for higher-paying jobs in software and robotics. Nearly 14 percent of software job listings are now posted by retailers, according to data analyzed by Glassdoor, the job recruitment website. That share has doubled from 2012, says Andrew Chamberlain, Glassdoor’s chief economist.

“What’s going to happen next is robotic arms, combined with vision technology and suction technology,” says Marc Wulfraat, president of MWV- PL, a consulting firm. Wulfraat predicts that hundreds of smaller warehouses will be built in large cities to shorten delivery times to as low as an hour, particularly for groceries. Amazon already has 53 such facilities, and its competitors will be forced to follow suit.



Will Automation Kill or Create Jobs?

It is very alarming to say automation or AI will not kill jobs, because it essentially draws people’s guard down to prepare for their welfare protection. It is much fair to say that automation or AI will change the landscape of job market.

Every new technology related to the job market has a potential to cause interruption to what we are used to. I agree that it will create new types of jobs, but it will also destroy some traditional jobs. Although people can claim that the net job gain could be positive, it is a great mistake to conclude that automation / AI would create jobs instead of killing jobs. This is like comparing apples against oranges. People cannot do a simple addition / subtraction of numbers to draw their conclusions!

Just look at the current US policy of reviving manufacturing and mining jobs. The major reason of those conservatives is that they want to bring the old jobs back. They resist to the landscape change of the job market, and refuse or decide not to transition to new types of jobs. Then, under this situation, can people and scholars still subtract the numbers of old jobs from new ones in their job gain calculation? They cannot! Some people may not want to change or unable to change due to various reasons. As a result, trying to keep those traditional jobs is creating unrest in the US economy and society. Conservatives ignore the fact that our history has shown it to be impossible to reverse job trend. Resisting just prolongs the pain to face the changes and slows down our country’s progress.

Therefore, I would like to encourage policymakers to consider universal income or automation / robot / AI tax to at least protect the welfare of future generations. Do not trust the claims of net job gain to slow down the need of our welfare protection.

Here is a sample of recent articles making the false claims. Do not follow them blindly.

The Bank of England has a chart that shows whether a robot will take your job

Another data analysis about jobs which will be phased out as time goes. It is an interesting analysis of historical job data. However, after I glanced through the bank report referenced in the article, I am not sure robots are the reason of the job replacement. For example, it could be replaced by cheap labor in foreign countries. The bank report shows only the jobs subject to be phased out due to technology advancement. People could just become productive. So, do not take robots too seriously!

Reference: The Bank of England has a chart that shows whether a robot will take your job

Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less

However, I would like to remind people that there are other benefits not covered in this article and are valuable for a person to stay more than 2 years with a company. The article title focuses at only monetary value.

… The average raise an employee receives for leaving is between a 10% to 20% increase in salary.

… Recessions allow businesses to freeze their payroll and decrease salaries of the newly hired based on “market trends.” These reactions to the recession are understandable, but the problem is that these reactions were meant to be “temporary.” Instead they have become the “norm” in the marketplace.

… Mueller still recommends that an employee makes a transition every three to four years for maximum salary gains.

… Hiring a single employee who is able to perform even 10% more efficiently is worth at least a 25% increase in salary. … It’s always cheaper to just hire better people and pay them more.

Reference: Employees Who Stay In Companies Longer Than Two Years Get Paid 50% Less

Career Chart

What Career Should I Choose?

If you haven’t settled on a career yet, this interactive chart from Rasmussen College can help you find the best options. It organizes occupations into four quadrants based on salary, expected job growth, and number of opportunities available.