Where’s the Automation in the Productivity Accounts? | Jared Bernstein (@EconJared)|

Yesterday’s productivity report for 2014q1 was predictably negative—we already knew that real GDP fell in the quarter while employment grew apace—but I don’t read much into the noisy quarterly changes.

But then there’s this: year-over-year, productivity growth was up 1% last year and has averaged 0.8% since 2011. The figure below plots the yearly changes, which are themselves pretty noisy. What’s more instructive is the smooth trend through the numbers.

The trend suggests that the pace of productivity growth has decelerated since the first half of the 2000s and this begs an important question. There’s considerable speculation that the pace at which machines are displacing workers has accelerated. I keep hearing about “the end of work” based on the assumption that the pace of labor-saving technology—robots, AI—has accelerated.

Curated from jaredbernsteinblog.com


Right on, Jared! The automation is erasing the jobs zombie myth is just that. While we might be seeing stories about artificial intelligence and self-driving cars, those things are not in mass-production and in use by the general public. What’s more, 100% of the jobs that have been eliminated since 2007 fall into two categories: the largest, outsourced to much cheaper Asian labor, and the smaller eliminated altogether not because the jobs were redundant, but because the labor force is so fearful that you can spread extra work around with impunity, in the knowledge that it will be done, even at the cost of not reporting overtime.

All this talk by Friedman and Brooks about new “efficiencies” is a bunch of hooey. Millions have been abandoned and are suffering in silence because no one in the press bothers to report on what the public now sees as “losers.”


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