Fewer Workers Needed = Fewer Managers?
As companies continue to add automation and artificial intelligence to all levels of operations, it stands to reason that fewer employees will be needed and there will be less need for managers. The few opportunities for advancement that exists in such sectors as retail and service will be further reduced. Workers hoping to advance to the next level will find fewer opportunities. Many will be trapped in so-called starter or stepping stone jobs.
Jobs that were thought to be safe from automation are now edging closer to that new reality. A new robot has been developed that can pick tomatoes better than a human. Read about it in this article from CNBC. Automation and artificial intelligence are expected to impact nearly half of all jobs in the U.S. New jobs will be created in areas not yet invented, but many older workers will struggle to adapt to the many changes sure to come in the next 10 years.
Read more about Walmart’s plans regarding its labor force in this Wall Street Journal article.
Surging Wealth Inequality
A recent article in Forbes by Steve Denning asks how we can solve our nation’s wealth inequality. Citing data from a Federal Reserve study, the author points out that the top 10% now own 70% of total assets while the bottom 50% own only 1%.
In his insightful article, Denning goes into detail regarding the cause of wealth inequality and explains its roots came from a shift in corporate thinking that occurred beginning in the 1980s. No longer would a corporation be concerned with customers and employees. Maximizing profits for the shareholder and executives became the guiding principle for doing business. The daily stock value became the metric to live or die by. CEO’s looked for ways to extract resources from the company to generate profit for the few. Their efforts were further aided by a change in SEC rules in 1982 that allowed them to buy back stocks effectively manipulating the price and resulting in more profit for shareholders.
Can We Catch Up?
How can the rest of us catch up? Is it even possible? Since corporations insist on focusing on maximizing shareholder profit at the expense of the companies and employees long term health, the only way to change the system is to affect the price of shares. Would companies change their policies if enough people stopped working, shopping and investing for/in them? To exert enough pressure on corporations to change would require a high level of corporation and unity of mission. It can and must be done. It is time for the 99% to use the model of cooperation perfected by the 1% to restore shared prosperity to our country. If our society is to thrive and not just survive, corporations must shift back to focusing on the customer as well as the long-term health of the employees and the community.
The Waste of Human Potential
I have always believed that the most valuable assets in the world are humans and their many talents. Unfortunately, far too many children in our country begin life at a significant disadvantage. Students struggle in poor quality schools and often fail to meet minimum standards. These same children lack the essentials needed to grow mentally and physically such as food, medical care, and shelter. One only need look at the struggling schools of Chicago, Detroit, or any other large metro area. To make matters worse, the infrastructure needed for these schools is crumbling. The children of Flint, Michigan who were exposed to lead in their water will pay the price for years to come. Yes, we are the richest country in the world, but we are failing to make the most of our most valuable and precious asset – our people.
Oh, the places we could go…. – Dr. Seuss