Is employment directly related to technology and productivity? Research tells that it isn’t necessarily the case; automating stores and processes, thus increasing output, could affect manufacturing jobs and cause a decline in employment.
According to the conservative Heritage Foundation, with a significant increase in productivity and output there is also a rise in unemployment. Moreover, five million jobs are predicted to be lost by 2020 due to technology and automation, according to a report made by the World Economic Forum earlier this year.
Although, the rise of online shopping did not drastically impact employment figures, there is still the threat of other retail jobs being lost such as what might be the case for Amazon.
The company has recently made public a new kind of grocery and they’re calling it Amazon Go. It identifies all the items bought by using sensors and gates and then charges you for them after it calculates the total cost.
This development has many implications one of which is the elimination of checkout counters and long lines, easing traffic in groceries. Another is that a lot of employed cashiers will be out of jobs, having been replaced by a cashier-free system.
A third implication is that the advancement will allow workers to fully focus on customer service, aiding shoppers in locating items and asking questions. Human cashiers could still be transitioned to fulfill this job description.
While it is yet to be seen how Amazon Go will impact employment, the question remains: must technology be abandoned to save jobs? The director of research and policy at the Economic Policy Insitute, Josh Bivens, stated that people should not be wary of the productivity growth but rather of “policy bungling.”
Economists and politicians must ensure that jobs are not lost despite the technological advancements. This can be accomplished by increasing wages and creating new jobs, thus flowing more money into the economy.