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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 […]

The goal of mainstream economists is to get everybody to work. As a result, they celebrate capitalism for creating full employment—and worry that capitalism will falter if not enough people are working. The utopian premise and promise of mainstream economic theory are that capitalism generates an efficient allocation of resources, including labor. Thus, underlying all […]

Forget Bitcoin. It’s the underlying technology, blockchain, that is generating the most excitement. Even utopia! Bitcoin is a digital currency that was invented in 2009 by a person (or group) who called himself Satoshi Nakamoto. His stated goal was to create “a new electronic cash system” that was “completely decentralized with no server or central authority.” After cultivating […]

Does anyone really need any additional evidence of the lopsided nature of the current recovery? Employers certainly don’t. They’re managing to hire additional workers, thus lowering the unemployment rate. But they don’t have to pay the workers they hire much more than they were getting before, with wages barely staying ahead of the rate of […]

The history of capitalism is actually a combination of two histories: it’s a history of employers attempting to hire workers and develop new technologies to make profits and expand the reach of capitalism; it’s also a history of workers banding together to improve wages and working conditions and imagine ways of moving beyond capitalism. 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 […]