The employment disruption caused by technology

March 13th, 2014

New technology offers both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, it makes our world a more interesting place. It improves our lives and enables businesses to get more done in less time. The negative? New technology inevitably takes away jobs. The Economist newspaper recently took a look at the double-edged sword that is technology.

Job losses

The Economist story points out that new technology in most cases eliminates some jobs. It's no surprise. To prove this point, the newspaper has a look at farm life. About 100 years ago, one in three U.S. residents worked on a farm. These days less than 2 percent of U.S. residents can say the same. Why? Technology.


But owing to technology, farms in the United States are more productive than ever, according to the Economist story. Farms today produce far more food than they did when so many more U.S. residents worked on them. At the same time, the laborers who left farm life found, as a result of technology, different jobs.

The key

The worry these days, though -- one expressed in the Economist story -- is that this isn't happening. Technology is eliminating a lot of jobs. But it's not creating enough new ones to replace these losses. The Economist says that it's up to the U.S. government to create new education opportunities for displaced workers so that these workers can grab the creative jobs which will make up the new economy. Will this happen? That's the big question.