Self-checkout machines have been starting to show up everywhere, from the local Walmart to stores across the globe. Before these machines came to fruition, those areas used to house employee operated check-out machines. Those employees were eventually replaced for a faster and easier check-out method. Knowing that your livelihood and job can be deterred by a simple, inanimate object is a hard reality. Every new machine developed to increase industry productivity leaves hardworking individuals being left without a job and it is seemingly only going to increase.
Ever since the Industrial Revolution, technological improvements have been a great value to employers over the country. Before the Industrial Revolution, agriculture work was a massive source of employment. There was such a high demand for the products and it required a substantial amount of work for the farm to make a profit. The agriculture industry, along with many others, exploded with new innovations whenever machines made their first appearance in the workforce. Harvesting machines such as the cotton gin and spinning jenny have allowed producers to rapidly produce their goods while saving the cost of labor. While the machines did make the farmerr’s jobs easier, there was also a huge decline in the number of farmers needed. This forced the workers to work in industrial jobs, which fueled the Industrial Revolution even more so.
Technology has been improved and modified for centuries with the goal of improving workplace productivity. However, current circumstances are relatively unique than in years past. The human population is spreading like wildfire, every few years increases the population by billions. Business owners want their businesses to be as cost-efficient as possible. A machine does not need a paycheck, vacation, sick days, or even rest. Naturally the business will save more money by replacing their workers with advanced machines. These newly potential workers could be left without a job. Potentially no job is safe from replacement if the rate of technological advancement carries on as it has for the past couple years.
If machines continue to grow at this extraordinary rate, the nation could collapse from a horribly skewed balance of wealth. Productivity will reach an all-time high from all sectors. However, unemployment will also skyrocket. There will then be an all-time low in purchasing power. This is especially true if the labor market is inflexible. For example, coal mining used to be a huge source of labor and wealth, especially during the 1920s. As the coal runs out in the area, and better energy methods started to appear, these coal miners started to lose their jobs. These miners often cannot take up a new job due to an occupational and/or geographical immobility. They most likely do not have the necessary skills to work a new job, and they might live far away from the workplace. This resulted in a temporary unemployment surge until they could learn the skills required or could move to a more prosperous part of the area.
An alternative idea of technological change is that it will not cause unemployment. Technological change in the food industry means we can produce food with fewer workers. It is then cheaper, to produce food and the price to buy food will fall. This means that a smaller income percentage will go towards buying food, so they have more money for other goods and services (especially manufactured goods). This increased demand for manufactured goods causes higher demand, therefore there will be a higher demand for workers. This is just innovation with technology, the types of jobs will change not be replaced. If labor productivity increases, we can then enjoy a greater range of goods and services.
Businesses and corporations have been integrating new technology and advanced machinery into their work procedure for over a century, resulting in less workers needed. The laid off people just needed to learn new skills to work the machinery. If the robots become capable of doing the same job the human once did (such as the check-out machines), they will no longer have a role in the workplace. It is unsure how increased technology will shape the job market in the future. The only thing certain is that integrating new machines make the business/production process run more effective and cost-efficient.
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