Will You Lose Your Job to a Robot?

The U.S. lost 5 million manufacturing jobs between January 2000 and December 2014, according to the Economic Policy Institute (EPI). While some of the job losses can surely be attributed to globalization, the majority of these jobs were apparently lost due to increased automation. In the past few months, President Trump vowed to restrict trade and immigration and has already taken executive action to that end. He has also promised to impose penalties on companies that outsource American jobs. However, economists say that neither globalization nor immigration is the major culprit—it’ s automation. According to an article in the New York Times, “Thanks to automation, we now make 85 percent more goods than we did in 1987, but with only two-thirds the number of workers.” This suggests that while President Trump can coerce manufacturers to stay in America, he cannot force them to hire workers. Consequently, retraining would arguably help underemployed blue collar workers, such that their skills match the requirements of the better-paying technical jobs in factories that cannot be done by machines.