t graphic de…yment by 1.7 percent annually. Occupations that rely on automation become more important, not less. Also, he finds that it’s fairly rare for automation to eliminate an occupation; rather, humans with computer skills tend to replace humans without computer skills, in the way that graphic designers replace typists. Of course, this substitution, while good for the overall economy, hurts those at the bottom of the labor distribution without computer skills.
The Brookings Institution
Overall this is a logical article with automation as a positive for employment. I agree with the basic assumption that automation/robotics has not created the current US employment problem and the real issues of that need to be addressed. But lack of adequate education and training for workers will continue to create a growing unemployable class of people. As automation moves to more complex activities that class must grow even with adequate training as more people who simply cannot work at the more abstract and creative level will be left out. And while automation rarely eliminates a profession it does often simplify work reducing the status of the worker. We just aren’t there yet for many. As an example, self driving vehicles are usually thought of as cars but this will have its greatest effect in trucking with long haul trucking as the first target. That is a lot of people. Initially truck driver jobs will not go away but they will become riders and standby or emergency drivers. I strongly suspect that the pay rate for a “required for safety” truck rider is going to be less than for a truck driver. Increased reliability will eventually eliminate the long haul trucker as an occupation. Having grown up in a railroad family in the 1950s I knew men of my parent’s generation who were firemen on diesel/electric trains. That seemed absurd to me at the time but not so absurd now . . .