What Will an Economy Without Jobs Look Like?

The video below was created by Climate Desk to examine the possible reductions in greenhouse gasses from using 3D printing over traditional manufacturing. What it does not really get into is what happens to manufacturing jobs when 3D printing comes into play. I've already talked about the potential disruptive effects of 3D printing.

3D printing though is only one of the pressures being put on jobs. That technology, after all, is in its infancy and it will be a few decades before the true impact is apparent. More immediately robotics and automation are eating manufacturing jobs at a rapid pace.

Between these two technologies we are looking at a future workforce where manufacturing is almost non-existant as a part of the economy. It is also pretty safe to say that shipping, including water, land and air routs including trains and trucking will be vastly reduced. After that, when people begin printing products at home, most retail outlets will fold and go under.

That will only be the first wave. People in professional occupations may look at this and say 'Ok, so unskilled  (or low skilled) labor is going away. People will just have to learn new skills.' However when jobs in manufacturing, shipping and retail go away not only will there be high unemployment, leading to a decline in demand but jobs in management, logistics, advertising, marketing, sales and other white collar jobs related to those industries will go away, permanently, as well.

This will be followed by a third wave as the economic impact of the second wave is felt and then a fourth wave and a fifth until the number of 'jobs' left in the economy represents a tiny fraction of the overall population. Even 'government jobs' could become a scarce commodity. How does a government get the revenue to function if the majority of the population isn't working?

There is, after all, no new source of employment waiting to replace all of those jobs. There is no 'service sector' that can fill in for all of the work that is about to be lost. Not everyone can sell or service 3D printers or repair robotics equipment (that work will likely be done by the robots themselves anyway).

The point of this isn't to tell you how to fix it, merely to lay out the situation. People have to start thinking about these things and how an economy without jobs can operate because if it is left to politicians and corporate elites, the picture may not be a pretty one for the majority of the population.

If you have any thoughts or good articles please hit up the comments section. Otherwise, consider this to be continued ...

[via Mother Jones]
Next Post »