Technological change is important for our economy but it can be difficult to measure, because of our bias toward the present, because each change is different, and because technologies are complexly interrelated to our economy. We can get around these problems by measuring technological change in simplified ways--but none of the techniques are perfect.
Minimum Wage/Maximum Growth
In his State of the Union Address president Obama proposed that Congress increase the minimum wage to $9.00 per hour. Almost immediately a chorus of opposition based on neoclassical economics emerged, arguing that such a change would kill job creation. As former Bush Administration economist Greg Mankiw notes, “there is 79 percent agreement among his peers that a minimum wage increases unemployment among young and unskilled workers.” But let’s be clear, what Mankiw really means to say is a 79 percent agreement among neoclassical economists. The neoclassical economic argument against the minimum wage is grounded in the view that if a worker and employer agree on a wage then this wage level must be welfare maximizing for both of them and by definition for society. The only thing a government regulated price for labor can do is distort labor markets and lead to less, not more economic welfare. In fact, a higher minimum wage would spur economic growth, while also increasing economic fairness.
I (Want) Robot
Automation, whether it's robots, computers, or machine tools, has never led to an increase in unemployment, and more importantly never will. Both history and scholarly analysis have clearly and consistently refuted the notion that increased productivity (through automation, self-service or robots) leads to higher unemployment in the moderate or long-term.