The Washington Post published a piece over the weekend on the complex connection between technology and unemployment. It lays out the ways that technology improves working conditions and the long, disruptive lags that sometimes occur in employment. The sum of it:
Even with the right policies, these social changes can take time to work out. So while new inventions can come into use relatively quickly, it may take decades of slow learning and occupational changes before the benefits of major new technologies are shared by large numbers of ordinary workers.
Technology does not breed unemployment. It breeds disruption. Those who can adapt generally thrive as technological advances accelerate.
Keynes theorized that technology would bring a different kind of “unemployment.” He speculated that enhanced productivity could produce a 15-hour standard work week. Keynes didn’t bank on the additional opportunities for consumption produced by all the wealth of the industrial age. Those additional consumption options may be driving up to keep work hours high, but for how long?
From Marketplace, Is the 15-hour work week closer than we think?