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We all know that some large portion of workers and their jobs are threatened—now and in the future—by new technologies. That’s why I’ve been increasingly writing about the conditions and consequences of robots and automation. According to McKinsey, “currently demonstrated technologies could automate 45 percent of the activities people are paid to perform and that about […]

As readers know, I have no particular nostalgia for industry. Or for the supposedly good manufacturing jobs that were the mainstay of the American Dream in the postwar period. That’s why I agree (in part) with Dietz Vollrath in his response to Nouriel Roubini’s dire warnings about the risk to blue-collar manufacturing jobs posed by the […]

U.S. capitalism has a real problem: there don’t seem to be enough workers to keep the economy growing. And it has another problem: capitalists themselves are to blame for the missing workers. As is clear from the chart above, the employment-population ratio (the blue line) has collapsed from a high of 64.4 in 2000 to […]

Students are much too busy to think these days. So, when a junior comes to talk with me about the possibility of my directing their senior thesis, I ask them about their topic—and then their schedule. I explain to them that, if they really want to do a good project, they’re going to have to […]

Liberal mainstream economists all seem to be lip-synching Bobby McFerrin these days. Worried about automation? Be happy, write Laura Tyson and Susan Lund, since “these marvelous new technologies promise higher productivity, greater efficiency, and more safety, flexibility, and convenience.” Worried about the different positions in current debates about economic policy? Be happy, writes Justin Wolfers, and rely […]

And the Republican Congress. . . The premise and promise of the House and Senate versions of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act are that lower corporate taxes will lead to increased investment and thus more jobs and higher wages for American workers. Marx, it seems, would have endorsed the idea: Accumulate, accumulate! That is Moses […]

The latest IMF Fiscal Monitor, “Tackling Inequality,” is out and it represents a direct challenge to the United States. It’s not just a rebuke to Donald Trump, who with his allies is pursuing under the guise of “tax reform” a set of policies that will lead to even greater inequality—or, for that matter, Republicans in state […]

They keep promising, ever since the recovery from the Great Recession started more than eight years ago, that workers’ wages will finally begin to increase. But they’re not. Sure, profits continue to rise. And so is the stock market. But not wages. And mainstream economists can’t come up with an adequate explanation of why that’s […]

We’ve been hearing this since the recovery from the Second Great Depression began: it’s going to be a Golden Age for workers! The idea is that the decades of wage stagnation are finally over, as the United States enters a new period of labor shortage and workers will be able to recoup what they’ve lost. […]

A couple of weeks ago, I published a guest post, by minimum-wage expert Dale Belman, about a controversial study of the effects of an earlier decision in Seattle to raise the local minimum wage to a level much higher than the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Now, in Trump’s America, we’re seeing exactly the […]