Projected Job Growth
Planning for the future during times of great change is tough. Looking at government data and reports can provide some clues about the future. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) studies data and trends and makes projections regarding job growth for various industries. The projections can help guide young people who are deciding on what type of job to pursue. For example, a recent report by the BLS lists five sectors that are expected to experience a decline in the number of jobs from 2018-2028:
- Retail trade,
- Wholesale trade,
- Federal government, and
The sectors that the BLS projects will have the fastest annual growth from 2018-2028 include:
- Health Care and Social Assistance
- Private Educational Services
The need for home health and personal care aides will continue to increase as our population ages. Unfortunately, these jobs have a median annual salary of approximately $24,000. This is going to make it tough for companies to recruit new employees when other opportunities exist that pay more.
Rapid growth is projected in two jobs related to renewable energy – Solar Photovoltaic Installers and Wind Turbine Technicians. Even though these jobs are projected to grow by about 60%, the small size of the field means only around 10,000 new jobs will be added.
In looking at the type of jobs that the BLS projects will grow the most, a common thread emerges – soft or people skills. The human touch needed to be a care provider makes it difficult to implement automation as a substitute. Even so, automation continues to advance quickly and is affecting what types of jobs and how many will be available in the future.
One Candidate’s Plan
Presidential candidate and mayor of New York City Bill De Blasio recently released a plan to address the employment issues created by automation in the workplace. De Blasio outlines the details of this plan in an article on Wired titled Why American Workers Need to be Protected from Automation.
The article begins with a description of a factory complex in Japan run by FANUC that is entirely automated. The factory produces 23,000 computer parts each month and runs almost 24/7. It is just one example of how corporations are using automation to replace human workers.
A Robot Tax
De Blasio’s plan includes a proposal to add a “robot tax”. Here is how he describes it in the article:
Lastly, my proposal would institute a “robot tax” on large companies that eliminate jobs through increased automation and fail to provide adequate replacement jobs. They’d be required to pay five years of payroll taxes up front for each employee eliminated. That revenue would go right into a new generation of labor-intensive, high-employment infrastructure projects and new jobs in areas such as health care and green energy that would provide new employment. Displaced workers would be guaranteed new jobs created in these fields at comparable salaries. Bill De Blasio in Wired
A variety of solutions to the problems posed by automation have been proposed by politicians and citizens. Of concern is the failure of the government to implement any protections for workers displaced by automation and to help people prepare for the future.
In July, Amazon announced a new program called “Upskilling 2025” to retrain workers displaced by automation. An article on CNN stated that the company would spend $700 million dollars on the program over the next six years. This is a step in the right direction and could help Amazon retain quality employees. Amazon’s efforts to automate its warehouses have been well documented and it is these workers who could benefit greatly from participation in the retraining program.
Change is inevitable, but with advanced planning and action, people will be able to weather this wave of change brought on by technology.