Automation, artificial intelligence, globalization. They are the three heads of a monster that threatens the future of the American working class with the promise of canceling millions of jobs. Starting from a punctual and convincing analysis of the socio-economic landscape of the United States, Yang within The War of Normal
People describes the impact – in part already underway – of new technologies on Americans who receive hourly wages of less than $ 20 an hour: truckers, workers, waiters, but also employees.
To counter the effects of the expected loss of millions of jobs, this article proposes the establishment of a universal basic income that will bring everyone above the poverty line and that will allow a “centric human” capitalism based on a new currency to be born. : the weather.
Automation is changing the world of work, such as preventing unemployment
Who are “normal people”? It is the middle class, to which 70% of Americans believe they belong.
The question is, what will ordinary people do in the coming years? Automation and artificial intelligence are pushing people out of the job market, thousands of jobs will be lost in the near future. Right now, some of the smartest people in the country are looking for a cheaper version of you: a foreign worker, a software, a robot.
There is no malice in this. The market rewards those who do things more efficiently and efficiency loves things done effectively and at the lowest possible cost. A wave of automation and job losses is not the vision of a dystopian future, but a transformation already underway.
The numbers tell a story that we have so far wanted to ignore: there is a growing mass of permanent unemployed, automation is accelerating to the point of affecting social structures and our lifestyle.
A report released by the White House in December 2016 traces the landscape for the next 15/20 years: 83% of jobs paid less than $ 20 an hour will be automated. According to the report, between 2.2 and 3.1 million car, bus and truck drivers will disappear with the advent of self-driving vehicles. Driving a truck is one of the most common jobs in 29 states.
The same goes for the innovation that will “touch” cashiers, fast-food workers, people who deal with customer service. Automation has already eliminated 4 million jobs in the manufacturing industry from 2000 to today.
The workforce in the United States is now 62.5%, lower than that of almost all other industrialized countries. The number of Americans who are not part of the workforce is 95 million.
This is the phenomenon I call The Great Displacement . This is the social, not only economic, issue that is more pressing than our time: the unease due to unemployment leads to the growth of social problems, including domestic violence, depression, drug use.
There is an entity that can reform society and prevent a large part of the United States from becoming jobless and without a future, the Federal State, which, however, currently has neither the budget nor the structure to act.
To reduce the effects of the Great Displacement it is necessary to invest in education, apprenticeship, training, tax incentives, but acting according to the usual policies is not enough, because we are used to thinking that the market solves most of the problems, but this time it will be the opposite .
The employment scenario in America in recent years
The Venture for America project that I founded in 2011 brings young aspiring entrepreneurs to create businesses in cities that suffer from economic decline.
But the jobs created have a tendency to be very specific and often require a degree, this excludes 68% of the population from the start. Venture for America’s goal was to help create 100,000 new jobs by 2025.
An army of young people, prepared and motivated, started business in Detroit, New Orleans, Cleveland, creating new companies capable of creating opportunities and making local economies more dynamic. I have seen thousands of startups become mature companies and I have seen desolate suburbs filling up with newly employed people.
I ate alone in restaurants where I would have been the only customer of the day, driven along rows of abandoned sheds and farms and saw the resignation on people’s faces, only to find myself in Silicon Valley incredulous to find myself in the same country. I felt I was living in a bubble, far from the experience of the average American.
I began to study the trends of the labor market and the American economy and what I found shocked me: our economic engine has stalled and automation is pushing hundreds of thousands of people out of the labor market in the most vulnerable in the country.
I have spent the last few years trying to create jobs, but now I think the problem cannot be solved in this way.
How the world of work has changed over the decades
The Great Shift did not come suddenly. It is the answer – developed over decades – of the economy and the labor market to the evolution of technology, to changes in regulations, to globalization.
In the seventies, over 20% of workers were unionized, local commercial banks pressed businessmen to invest in local businesses, there were only 3 TV Networks, having a job meant having benefits and – almost always – a pension.
Today, 5 banks alone control 50% of the commercial banking sector, the number of workers registered in the union has halved, 94% of the contracts made between 2005 and 2015 are temporary and without benefits, people are forced to do more work to make ends meet. Real wages are flat or even in decline.
The chances of an American born in 1990 earning more than his parents are 50%, for Americans born in 1940 they were 94%. With globalization, American industries brought 14 million jobs out of the country in 2013 alone, resulting in lower costs and increased efficiency, but also increased pressure on American workers, forced to compete with the market. global work.
Since 1973, the gap between productivity and hourly wages has grown exponentially, also due to automation.
The relationship between company earnings and workers’ earnings has ceased: profits rise, but wages lose purchasing power. Companies can thrive and make profits without creating new jobs and without increasing wages.
The companies of the future don’t need many workers: Hilton Hotel employed 169,000 people in 2016, Airbnb had 3,100 employees in 2017. The work of “normal Americans” has become obsolete.
The numbers of the American world of work: jobs, wages and possible losses related to automation
Most of us surround ourselves with people like him, so knowing what is normal on average in a vast and composite country like America requires a thorough study.
For example, it should be considered that the average American worker with a low qualification earns $ 17 an hour. That in 2017 59% of Americans had no savings and were unable to pay an unexpected expense of $ 500.
Racial disparities are striking and there are substantial differences between men and women. If we talk about securities, the figure is disastrous: 20% of the population holds 92% of the stock market.
Office work. 2.5 million people doing $ 15 an hour paperwork risk losing it for automation. Not in 10 years now. Google, Apple, Amazon are investing billions in AI assistant (artificial intelligence assistance). Rob LoCascio, founder and CEO of LivePerson , a company that manages customer support for thousands of companies, estimates that 40-50% of the activities performed in a call center could go to automation already today.
Retail sales. The supermarket automatic checkouts are another example: a single employee assists customers, easily replacing 2/3 cashiers. 8.8 million Americans, paid $ 11 an hour, work in retail sales. One hundred thousand workers lost their jobs between October 2016 and May 2017 as a result of the closure of chains and shopping centers.
When a mall closes, the effect affects the entire local community. Many lose their jobs, but the loss goes further because malls are the pillars of the regional budget in terms of taxes. Thus came the cuts to schools, local administrative organizations, and so on.