Automation is Not the Main Reason for Low Wages and Job Loss

Author: Alexx | Category: Business | Science | Technology | Economy | Society | Human Interest | Date: 11-13-2019


In an opinion piece, Princeton economist Paul Krugman states that while many people assume that automation is the main reason for job loss and low wages, this is just not the case. Instead, it is the lopsided power balance between employers and workers, a trend since the 1970s, that is responsible for the declining pay and status of workers in the U.S. In other words, it is not technological advances but the “failure of workers to share in the fruits of technology change” that is responsible.

“The other day I found myself, as I often do, at a conference discussing lagging wages and soaring inequality. There was a lot of interesting discussion. But one thing that struck me was how many of the participants just assumed that robots are a big part of the problem — that machines are taking away the good jobs, or even jobs in general. For the most part this wasn’t even presented as a hypothesis, just as part of what everyone knows.

And this assumption has real implications for policy discussion. For example, a lot of the agitation for a universal basic income comes from the belief that jobs will become ever scarcer as the robot apocalypse overtakes the economy. So it seems like a good idea to point out that in this case what everyone knows isn’t true.” (more)



Rishab Gupta March 9, 2020 2:54 am

I have heard lots of debate about machines/A.I. taking over jobs but I have never heard the other perspective of the debate. I think Kruger makes a good point in that it is up to the employees to stay relevant with technology and hone their skills to expand into areas the job market will take them. ... Read more This relates to the 1st and 2nd Industrial Revolutions in Great Britain. As new machines were made, many people did lose their jobs, however, it encouraged them to look to better jobs and move to urban areas to find work. This led to urbanization and built the strong economies we have today. I feel that automation propels society away from socialism and other Marxist ideas as it requires people to work diligently to make money, rather than the government or others in society to hand them resources. Less

Audrey Kong March 8, 2020 1:57 am

I agree with Paul Krugman in which people blame technology for the loss of job especially in this day in age. I also agree with the problem that is presented of it is the unbalance power that is causing loss of jobs and a decrease in pay. When people are higher up, they abuse that power because ... Read more they gain this sense of pride. The lower workers, they like to blame new things that are developing in the world. And yes, some robots are taking over jobs, but it is not like they are human. They don't have a choice because their creators are the ones enforcing this. Less

Zoe Byun March 2, 2020 3:03 am

Kruger explains that society often blames robots for low wages and job losses, however, they are actually quite beneficial. I agree with Kruger because although it is true that robots have taken jobs, they are often the jobs that require a lot of manual labor and that are unwanted by people. Low ... Read more wages also should not have anything to do with it as it is up to the employers and bosses to determine the wages of their employees Less

March 1, 2020 10:35 am

The article states that it's not technically the automation of jobs that causes low wages or less opportunity. It's really the failure of the employees and workers to compromise for a more balanced workforce. It's simply a public hypothesis that is in fact incorrect.

Victor Wan February 27, 2020 10:11 am

I think the article makes a reasonable argument that we should not place the blame for our job loss entirely on AI and robotics. It is true that machines are slowly taking up more and more useful jobs, leaving many unemployed, but part of the problem with all-human workforces is the failure for ... Read more humans to comply with having robots working by their side Less

Jake Kim February 26, 2020 9:25 am

This article brings up a pretty good point. We shouldn't be 100% against automation just because "our jobs will be dominated by robots in the future." Automation takes care of the unwanted jobs that cause physical harm to the workers. While it may be true that automation may replace many of ... Read more the functions in various jobs, it shouldn't necessarily be blamed for job loss, as it generally occupies the unwanted jobs and encourages future workers to aim higher Less