Robots and Computers Eventually Help Create Jobs, Rather than Destroy Them
We've all heard the sad tales of people losing their jobs to computers or robots. Usually, it's the argument that machines can do the work more efficiently and at a lower cost, this is used as the reasoning for such layoffs.
Business these days seems to be all about higher productivity, with little regard for how workers are being affected. But a recent article in USA Today headlined "Higher productivity cuts jobs now, pays off in long term," claims that efficiency, whether human or mechanical, can actually create jobs. How can this be?
In order to understand this reasoning, it helps to start by looking at productivity levels, which are often measured by the economy's output per labor hour. Productivity is higher when employees and/or machines work more efficiently and produce more in less time.
But whether a company produces more with the use of robots, computers, or simply getting human employees to work harder, multi-task and do more, it still means that they'll need fewer workers, right?
Not necessarily, according to the article, that uses the example of Panoramic, a maker of plastic packaging for desserts. They replaced a number of employees with robots, which were cheaper and more efficient. Because of this they were able to lower their prices, which attracted more customers, which had to be serviced by additional human, customer service representatives. See how it works?
Some major U.S. companies, like UPS, GlaxoSmithKline and Avis Rent A Car are increasing productivity by using computers to work more efficiently than their human counterparts did in the past. Because of this, they are able to lower their prices and attract more customers, who have certain needs only a human can meet. Therefore, more jobs are created, and they're able to pay workers more, who then go on to spend and help the economy.
It's the lag time that's so disheartening to U.S. workers, however. They would do well to seek training in the new jobs, like sales and customer service, that are being created by high productivity and efficiency.
According to USA Today, "Companies that trim costs typically pass some of those savings to employees through higher pay or to customers through lower prices, according to a recent study by McKinsey & Co. Either action ignites spending and job growth."
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