Saturday, June 25, 2011

Developed Economy Generates More Jobs, Or Less?

Forgive my ignorance.

Evidently, the relationship between technological advancement and employment is complicated.

People have always said that a developed country equals to plenty of job opportunities. Because a developed economy requires a plethora of man power to feed its insatiable appetite for resources. China, for example, relies heavily upon her 1.3 billion underlings to run the coal-mining industry, agriculture and oil fields.
Similarly, the largest economy in the world, the U.S also promises plenty of job opportunities for her citizens.

America has always been regarded as the most technologically-advanced country in the world. Jobs should be plentiful. But we all know that one of the biggest problem faced by Obama thus far is the continual growth of jobless population. Even after the alleged recovery from the 2008 economic recession.
Why so?

Is the economy not proliferating after the slump?

In an interview on NBC News, Obama used the example of ubiquitous automatic teller machines to illustrate how technological progress is allegedly impeding job creation:

There are some structural issues with our economy where a lot of businesses have learned to become much more efficient with a lot fewer workers. You see it when you go to a bank and you use an ATM, you don’t go to a bank teller, or you go to the airport and you’re using a kiosk instead of checking in at the gate.
Well, he has hit the bullseye.

Technological progress, it seems, doesn't align perfectly with job creation. Both eventually leads to a thriving economy, though technological progress is what most politicians(and tyrants) are seeking for.

Back in the old days when calculators were considered an invaluable asset, people were needed to answer calls, do calculations in the lab, plough the fields, and so on. Any new industry would need a lot of man power, for example the shipping boom in the 1920s, to compensate the lack of machinery.

Nowadays we see more machine than human--the auto teller machine(ATM) instead of bankers, check-in kiosks at the airport instead of airport crews, security doors instead security guards, ploughing vehicles instead of farmers and their herd of buffaloes. Calculators gave way to iPad and smartphone, just as farm laborers gave way to machines, robotic arms outlived factory workers.
How is it possible, therefore, for a technologically advanced economy to produce more job opportunity? This seemingly contradictory concept has baffled me ever since my Kemahiran Hidup (Living Skills) class in Form 2. Because as we go forward, we'd like to see our industry become more and more cost-efficient; high productivity whilst reducing human error. Hence the right way to go is to employ robots instead of humans. A robot could achieve in three days what several men could achieve in a week. Right? No? An edifice full of robots would soon replace an entire shift of human workers.

Even if our civilization become stagnant at this point of history, the current generation would still not be able to compete against robots, regardless of whatever erudite qualification we may have. So what does the future hold for human? Less and less job opportunity?
Of course, we're talking about jobs such as welding, car-assembly worker, i.e industrial jobs, which constitutes the largest percentage of labor force.

Note that I am just forwarding a question, not putting blame on anyone. Declaring my sincere thought at the end of this entry would be the utmost prudent course of action to prevent any backlash.


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