Productivity

Note to Tom Friedman: Technology Creates, Not Destroys, Jobs

January 25, 2012
| Blogs & Op-eds

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.

The rate of productivity in the construction industry has been steadily declining in the last few decades, proving the need for innovation in the industry.

The general perception of the construction industry productivity is declining -0.6 % per year (+1.8% per year non-farm productivity increase; significant improvement in some work processes). There has been much debate over the root cause of this decline. It can almost certainly be attributed to underinvestment in construction R&D, a shift in output mix, and slow growth in capital/worker ratio. Debate and uncertainty continue as no industry-level productivity measures exist. It is only with increased innovation that productivity in this essential industry is going to increase.

How to Fix America's Least Innovative Industry: Construction

The Atlantic
Construction is a fragmented field, where the people who design buildings are different from the people who construct them, who in turn are different from the people who operate them. And, on the whole, the industry invests just about nothing in R&D.

IT is the Foundation for Better Building

January 19, 2012
| Blogs & Op-eds

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.

Bricks and Bits: Transforming the Construction Industry Through Innovation

January 18, 2012 - 9:00am - 11:00am
National Press Club
529 14th Street Northwest
Holeman Lounge
Washington
DC
20045

Notwithstanding the current surplus in housing, over the next quarter century the U.S. will need to invest trillions of dollars in construction to meet the demands of a growing population and to refurbish aging infrastructure. Doing this efficiently will be critical to America’s economic future. Read more »

Bricks and Bits: Transforming the Construction Industry Through Innovation

January 18, 2012
With its vast holdings, the government has learned a thing or two about procurement and coordinating construction management and it plays a critical role in setting standards and undertaking industry-related R&D.

Notwithstanding the current surplus in housing, over the next quarter century the U.S. will need to invest trillions of dollars in construction to meet the demands of a growing population and to refurbish aging infrastructure. Doing this efficiently will be critical to America’s economic future. However, when benchmarked against America’s leading industries, the construction industry is anything but efficient. Indeed, measured growth in construction industry productivity has actually declined over the last two decades. Read more »

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Antiquated Economic Policies Are Killing Jobs More Than Robots Are

December 9, 2011
| Blogs & Op-eds

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?

November 11, 2011
| Presentations

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

October 26, 2011
| Presentations

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.

Bill to Ban Sale of Alcohol through Self-Service Checkout Terminals Cloaked in Falsehood

August 17, 2011
| Blogs & Op-eds

ITIF Senior Analyst Daniel Castro explains in an op-ed California's proposed ban on self-service checkouts will impede innovation not underage drinking.

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