Did you know that 670,000 Americans lost their jobs to industrial robots from 1990 to 2007? This was based on the recent research done by Pascual Restrepo of Boston University and Daron Acemoglu of MIT. During the course of 25 years, economists argue that automation (and not trade) is accountable for the six million jobs eliminated in the manufacturing industry.
Most people assume that the findings of the study mean that the robots won in the takeover of American jobs. They are unaware that the country is not prepared to handle the major change caused by automation. The researchers calculate that 50 percent of the job lost was the result of the robots plainly taking over workers. It appears that every time a factory gives up their workers, the economic pain will last, which will prompt further unemployment.
On the other hand, the economists fail to highlight the benefits that come with the transition, such as cheaper operations and more time for workers to commit to other jobs. For instance, about 41 percent of Americans worked in farms a hundred years ago, but mechanical harvesters and tractors reduced this to only two percent of agricultural work today.
The manufacturing workers, however, will have a difficult time adapting to the technological change. This is critical because they need to prepare themselves for other skillsets required for other jobs. The researchers believe that the only way humanity can survive this is if they reevaluate their policies about education and work, besides learning from the industries who have already handled the changes well.