Wednesday, May 28, 2014

"It is time for the right to take the ‘rise of the machines’–and its risks–seriously"

From the American Enterprise Institute's Ideas blog:
In a must-read WaPo commentary, AEI’s Mike Strain takes a look at the continuing impact of automation on advanced economy workers and thankfully ignores easy assumptions such as, “Hey, the Industrial Revolution worked out OK, didn’t it?” Strain notes, for instance, the huge, long-term dislocations the rise of the machines caused in 19th century Europe. And he notes the problems of today caused by machines wiping out middle-class jobs:
There is no question that technology is already having a major impact on the labor market. Over the last several decades, employment in Western economies grew in both low- and high-skill occupations, but fell in middle-skill occupations. That’s because middle-skill, middle-class occupations are those that can be most easily replaced by technology. … Without middle-class jobs, many male workers have taken low-skill, low-wage jobs. And many men have simply chosen not to participate in the labor force — employment rates for less-skilled men in the U.S. have dropped significantly over the past three decades. This has coincided with a decline in real hourly wages for men without a college degree.
Men without jobs or with low-paying jobs are less “marriageable,” so it is no surprise that these economic forces are having a significant effect outside of the marketplace that perpetuates across generations, as many children grow up in homes without fathers.
Strain goes on to raise some questions familiar to readers of “Average is Over” or “The Second Machine Age.”