As I pointed out, automation allows locally located mills to be competitive in the global marketplace. Barely. Mills overseas can use the same exact machines, and have lower costs with cheaper labor. Basically, one saves on shipping and time-to-market.
Open another mill? Wow. Another 150 jobs. You'd need 13 mills to replace the 2,000 jobs lost in just the first mill alone, much less the 26,000 people 13 old-style mills would have employed. Assuming. of course, that the demand is there to support them.
Next point: more people can buy "nice" mass-produced stuff only if they have the jobs to support doing so.
Unfortunately, the economy is contracting in that regard. And this is the point you seem to miss. People displaced are often thrown out of work and/or forced into lower paying jobs, which in turn contract the economy even further. Job "creation" is largely failing to keep pace with population growth.
And your claim, "We haven't even touched on how automation can support service industries..." simply underscores the point. Automation is moving into those areas as well, with fewer jobs needed as a direct result.
As I pointed out, no one says time to stand still. But adjusted for population, there are fewer tellers. And again, why? We have more people, In a "growing" economy we'd have more money to handle.
But technology has eliminated the need for tellers to keep up with the corresponding rise in population growth. ATMs, online banking, more credit card readers, etc., mean fewer jobs in that sector.
And that would be fine, unless we start to see fewer jobs in other sectors, as well. Which we are, and even in service jobs. Scan it yourself checkouts reduce the need for checkers. Tablets being introduced in some restaurants reduce the need for waitstaff. I can renew my plates and drivers license online now, so fewer branches and employees.
Online services like RocketLaywer are even reducing the need for lawyers and clerks for many routine tasks (poser of attorney).
And Mike has another point wrong. People who point out these things aren't Luddites. I've been using computers for decades now, and I have no wish nor desire to turn back the clock.
But we are rapidly reaching an inflection point, and the sooner we recognize that fact, the sooner we can try to do something about it.
Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: It's not that simple
"When automation throws people out of work, people find new work to do."
I can go in my backyard and "work", but that doesn't mean that I'm going to get paid for it. People only get paid for work when that work provides goods or services to someone else. And that someone else has to be able to afford to pay for those goods and services.
And if that someone else is also unemployed, then you have a problem.
That's the US problem in a nutshell. Companies automated or off shored high paying jobs. The people laid off then had to compete for low-paying jobs, driving some out of work, but most importantly giving them less money to spend themselves. When means less demand for goods and services, which means you need fewer people to meet that demand, so more people are laid off and have less money to spend, which reduces demand...
"Truck drivers: instead of having to drive the truck themselves they now buy one truck and send it to the place they need to be..."
Much more likely that a corporation buys a fleet of the aforementioned trucks, giving them 200 cross country trucks that no longer need drivers. With further negative downstream impacts at restaurants, truck stops, motels, and so on.
Better to say that SOME people are always needed. A case in point, and related to the article, regards new textile mills and jobs returning to the US. Of course, the reason they can afford to return is because the mills are now highly automated.
One new mill currently employs 150 people. Years ago, it needed 2,000 people to produce the same amount of cloth, for a net 92% reduction in jobs.
The jobs needed to produce the looms, maintain them, etc., are a wash, as older looms had to be produced and maintained as well. (Actually, the newer looms are probably produced using robots as well.)
The same plant, back in the day, probably also had tons of middle management, secretaries, and other positions also eliminated or no longer needed, again due to technological advances.
The call centers mentioned above are also a nice bit of misdirection. Yep. Lots of people work in call centers. But technology also lets those centers be located where labor is cheapest, and technology also lets one call center support dozens upon dozens of individual companies, eliminating in-house positions from each.
And even assuming the increase in numbers across new fields (phone operator to telemarketers) directly corresponds, once you factor in population growth (1940s?), I highly suspect that any major gains are largely illusionary.
Technology is reducing the job count relative to population, and further, is driving salaries down at the same time.
Given the response from across the web, I bet tons of people were using Googleís back-end systems as a way to manage and synchronize their RSS news feeds, and then feeding that information into dedicated desktop clients and apps like Reeder, NetNewsWire, and Feedly.
As such, itís not that Google Reader had no users. Itís that Google got stuck running a warehouse full of servers that delivered information and not web pages. Since they werenít web pages, there were no eyeballs looking at them, and as such Google had no way to serve up ads and monetize the service.
Or, more likely, the supply and demand for apples is pretty much in equilibrium, in which case the more likely scenario is that with a 10% increase in per-worker productivity, the owner of the orchard fires 1 worker out of every 10.