With Robots Taking Over An Estimated 73 Million U.S. Jobs by 2030, Just How Will Gen Z Handle the Hard-wired Competition?
Last year, Andrew Yang — a highly-respected presidential candidate, entrepreneur, corporate attorney, and political commentator — sent shockwaves through the nation with his campaign promise of implementing a universal basic income of $1,000 a month to every citizen over the age of 18.
The purpose of a Freedom Dividend, according to Yang, was to offset the negative effects of Generation Z’s most prominent economic issue: the advancement of automation in the workplace.
Despite the fact Yang suspended his presidential campaign this past February, his ideas remain more relevant than ever.
In all corners of America, automated warehouses, self-serving kiosks, and self-checkout machines are replacing tasks that people need to fulfill in order to justify their position… And provide vital income necessary for living.
The facts are in:
The proliferation of automation will kill so many Gen Z jobs that government intervention may be the only way to keep our future economy stable.
According to the World Economic Forum, automation could eliminate as many as 73 million U.S. jobs by 2030. In addition, Daron Acemoglu, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, co-authored a study in which he found that from 1993-2007, each robot added to the workforce had the effect of replacing 3.3 U.S. jobs.
Don’t assume that automation has a marginal impact on one particular industry. A recent study published by Wells Fargo & Co. found that U.S. banks could cut an estimated 200,000 jobs over the next decade.
According to statista.com, approximately 1.5 million people were employed in the commercial banking sector in 2015. If that isn’t scary enough, KPMG conducted a poll which found that nearly 67% of workers at U.S. technology companies are concerned about losing their jobs due to increased A.I. capabilities.
As employers are coping with the financial damages brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the idea of replacing human workers with automated robots is sounding more and more appeasing.
Robots don’t need wages, medical insurance, lunch breaks, or adequate working conditions. Profits would soar, productivity would increase, labor costs would plunge — and low-skilled humans will become obsolete.
The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) — a staid private management firm — conducted a study later cited in a 2015 CNBC article in which they found that by 2025, the adoption of advanced robots will boost productivity by up to 30 percent in many industries.
The same report showed that automation would lower total labor costs by 18 percent or more in countries such as the U.S., China, Japan, and Germany.
The World Economic Forum reported that Germany, Japan, and China could lose up to 17 million jobs, 30 million jobs, and 236 million jobs respectively by 2030 due to advancements in automation.
Generation Z, by far, is going to be impacted most by this tidal wave of economic hardship.
Young people are going into one of the most volatile workforces in American history. As of May 2020, the United States unemployment rate is at 13.3 percent — which is higher than the 10 percent peak reached during the 2008 Financial Crisis.
There are some economists who claim that the advancement of automation is either overemphasized or misunderstood.
Genpak, a company that makes take-out food packaging, started using technology from a company called Conexiom to automatically convert unstructured data from sales orders or into digital records. Darlene Bardin, director of customer service at the company, extolled the decision to transition to automate certain tasks amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Our business went crazy,” she said. “If we were back a year ago where we had to hand-enter all of these orders we would be stumbling all over ourselves.”
Yet, despite this, automation is the single greatest threat to the financial security of millions of Americans.
When discussing issues such as free trade and the loss of American jobs, many political figures overlook this topic (this point is elaborated in Chapter 4 of my book, Through The Eyes Of A Young American). Andrew Yang’s proposal of a universal basic income might have been too idealistic for many Americans. On that note, however, his campaign deserves praise for acknowledging the threat of automation in the workplace.
Just as the climate crisis threatens the physical safety of younger Americans, automation jeopardizes the economic future of our country. This, coupled with a recession, is going to impede economic prosperity for a very long time.
Unless, of course, we take action NOW.
We need to proactively de-incentivize corporations from trying to eliminate expenses by completely changing the dynamics of their workforce. In order to do this, we have to financially penalize any company who decides to use robotic machines to complete certain tasks that can be efficiently completed by a human being. This may be the most anti-corporate move our country has ever taken; yet, it must be done.
This idea has been fairly popular among many entrepreneurs, intellectuals, and politicians. Bill Gates famously advocated for a “robot tax” in 2017. Orly Mazur, a tax law professor at Southern Methodist University, said in an email to Business Insider that “I believe an appropriately designed robot tax can hinder the progress of the development of automation that kills jobs.”
New York City Mayor Bill DeBlasio laid out a detailed plan to implement a robot tax during his brief presidential run. In an op-ed published by Wired, DeBlasio stated that he would require companies who use automation to pay five years of payroll taxes up front for each employee eliminated.
In conclusion, now more than ever —when unemployment is rising, gross domestic product is plunging, and economic confidence is eroding — we need to protect the working-middle class from rapidly-advancing automation. If we do not prepare for the hurricane that is approaching us, we will see an economic crisis that will make the 2020 recession look like a cloudy day.
Article written by Jett James Pruitt
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