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New Technology and the American Workforce - 3/25/16

According to a new report from the Pew Research Center regarding public expectations on workforce automation, about two thirds of Americans expect robots or computers to take over many jobs now performed by humans over the next half century.  That’s not surprising. 

What is surprising is that many of these same Americans believe that while others will be impacted by automation, their jobs will be safe.  According to Pew, a nonpartisan think tank, fully 80 percent of surveyed Americans expect that their own jobs or professions will remain largely unchanged and exist in their current forms fifty years from now. 

That will probably turn out to be naïve.  As indicated by the Wall Street Journal, new technology has displaced humans for generations.  But these new technologies have also tended to lift living standards for many.  Think where we would be without automobiles, airplanes, computers and new therapies.  To date, technology is responsible for both creating and destroying jobs. 

While middle income jobs in manufacturing, bookkeeping and clerical work keep disappearing due to automation, higher paying jobs that require creativity and problem solving have expanded rapidly.  The result has been a more polarized labor market and stagnant wages for many. 

Anirban Basu, Chariman Chief Executive Officer of Sage Policy Group (SPG), is one of the Mid-Atlantic region's leading economic consultants. Prior to founding SPG he was Chairman and CEO of Optimal Solutions Group, a company he co-founded and which continues to operate. Anirban has also served as Director of Applied Economics and Senior Economist for RESI, where he used his extensive knowledge of the Mid-Atlantic region to support numerous clients in their strategic decision-making processes. Clients have included the Maryland Department of Transportation, St. Paul Companies, Baltimore Symphony Orchestra Players Committee and the Martin O'Malley mayoral campaign.