Tom Friedman's Op-Ed in The New York Times in which he argues technology is destorying jobs is essentially a flawed argument. There are three essential reasons for this. First, the economic evidence. It is unambiguous that higher rates of productivity lead to more jobs in the medium to long term, not fewer jobs. Second, the most serious challenge facing the U.S. economy over the next 25 years is the declining worker to population ratio as the baby boomers age. Finally, if we want to raise the living standards of Americans now holding low wage jobs, the best way to do it is to increase, not decrease, automation of these jobs. When a job can only produce 10 dollars an hour in value, there is no way to pay more than $10 per hour. If we can use technology to boost the productivity of many low wage, low productivity jobs, we can pay more for these jobs and workers who move out of these occupations can move into higher value added ones.
IT is the Foundation for Better Building
In a recap of a compelling ITIF event, Steve Norton reflects on the need to innovate in the construction industry. Construction is a physical undertaking of getting bricks, beams, pipes and glass to sites and putting them together but IT can help us better design, coordinate and revolutionize the process. When we start breaking new ground literally, we should also do so in our thinking and consider the economic footprint of a more productive and innovative construction sector.
Antiquated Economic Policies Are Killing Jobs More Than Robots Are
In an Op-Ed for The Huffington Post, ITIF President Rob Atkinson clarifies we should be worried about job creation but recognize that technology and machines are the solution, not the cause of our stubbornly-high unemployment rate. For that we can blame a tax code that does not encourage innovation and long-term investment, the lack of a national innovation and competitiveness strategy, passivity in the face of unfair or illegal trade practices, and a failure to invest in the talents of our workers and in new technologies.
Rather than rail against the machine, pundits and policymakers would do better to embrace technology-led productivity, while at the same time do much more to help workers adjust to changes, including investing more to create a 21st century skills system and shoring up a unemployment safety net that is full of holes. Fundamentally, the machines are our friends.
Innovation and Productivity: What’s the Relationship and How Does it Happen?
In a featured presentation at the ATSE Forum, Rob Atkinson stresses the relationship between innovation and productivity. All nations need an innovation-productivity strategy because addressing complex and systemic challenges–such as achieving affordable health care, combating global climate change, achieving sustainable energy production, deploying digital infrastructure, etc.–requires coordinated strategies leveraging the resources of firms, government, academia. And, in contrast to what the conventional neo-classical economic doctrine holds, markets alone will produce societally sub-optimal levels of innovation.
Jobs that Build the Economy
ITIF president Rob Atkinson will present “How Advanced Manufacturing Drives Innovation and Wealth Creation in the United States" as part of the Jobs that Build the Economy conference. The conference will discuss how advanced manufacturing can grow our economy, maintain the quality of life for all Americans, and sustain a broad-based middle class. Topics will include: industry demand for skilled, U.S.-based employees; public and private elements of a national manufacturing agenda; the need for a multiple-pathway educational system including nationally portable, industry-recognized credentials; and the strategic value of market diversification and innovation.