You often hear that we’re losing jobs to automation. The number of industrial machines and factory robots keeps going up, while the number of people employed in manufacturing keeps going down. Just 8.5% of Americans worked in factories last year, whereas 30% of Americans worked in factories back in 1950. But are we really losing jobs to machines?
Is it lost if you don’t want it?
Many of the jobs and tasks that we automate aren’t desirable, satisfying, or fulfilling professions. They’re tedious, mundane, dangerous, or unpleasant work. Automation makes work safer, easier, and more efficient for human workers.
So are we really losing jobs if they’re jobs that people don’t want in the first place?
Obviously, job loss and unemployment doesn’t hinge upon whether or not someone wants a job. People don’t grow up dreaming of collecting trash or mining coal. Still, people do these things because they need to support themselves.
You’re still losing jobs even if you don’t want them, right? Losing jobs sounds like a bad thing, but when those jobs are unsafe or unpleasant – and getting rid of those jobs leads to new employment opportunities – it could actually be a good thing.
Creating jobs by losing jobs
While the percentage of workers in manufacturing has decreased, we’ve actually seen the number of workers in manufacturing increase for the better part of the last decade. Still, we’re never going to see the same level of employment in manufacturing that we had back in the glory days of U.S. manufacturing.
We have machines to do our heavy lifting for us. It no longer makes sense to have people do the work that we can automate in factories. That doesn’t mean that we’re losing jobs to machines, however. While there were 12 million manufacturing workers in the U.S. in 2013, the industry created 17.1 million indirect jobs.
Automation doesn’t merely render people useless and steal our jobs. Robots, machines, and artificially intelligent systems help improve efficiency and allow us to focus our attention on more worthwhile work.
Regardless of how you feel about it, automation is here to stay. Make sure your machines are humming. Call 479-422-0390 for preventive maintenance, inspection, or support for Indramat motion control systems.