The World Economic Forum has identified persistent jobless growth as one of its 10 upcoming global trends in 2015. “Persistent Jobless Growth” typically happens when countries increase their economic growth,such as coming out of a recession, without increasing the employment level.
Innovations in technology, like 3D printers and increasingly capable robotics are a significant factor in why jobs are not being created. Automation is the most salient reason for growth without jobs. Replacing factory workers with robotics keeps costs down by reducing the number of workers. These machines increase the productivity of companies and help keep factories in the US as opposed to overseas, but at a steep price: a decrease in employment. Factories are running, but there is no need to hire labor.
According to the World Economic Forum, the top solutions for persistent jobless growth are improved education, job creation, and government investment.
Charles W. Eliot, a Harvard professor, draws a comparison between the current American economic situation and the Great Depression. The government investment programs instituted by Roosevelt and Wilson helped to create jobs and build necessary infrastructure systems. Examples of this include hydroelectric power from dams such as the Grand Coulee and Hoover dams, highway systems, and newer infrastructure like fiber optic cable systems.
Technology drives our society forward, so solutions to the problem of jobless growth must not stifle innovation in the process. Government policy, Eliot says, is the solution. Especially in the Western US, infrastructure is decaying. According to WashPIRG,, an American driver crosses a “structurally deficient” bridge every 60 seconds, and that one out of every 20 bridges in Washington is likely to be deficient.
We still rely on much of what was built during the National Industrial Recovery Act era, and by employing similar policies, we can create jobs as well as revamp infrastructure.
There has been some attention paid to job creation, such as House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) “jobs bill.” Unfortunately, this collection of “jobs” caters to big oil and is simply not big enough to address the problem at hand. The American Jobs Act, which experts contend could have made a significant economic impact, never made it out of the senate. Goldman Sachs estimated the act would have increased GDP by 1.5%, and the Economic Policy Institute estimated it would create 2.6 million jobs in addition to protecting 1.6 million more.
On a positive note, while persistent jobless growth is of great concern in the upcoming year (and in years to come), the implementation of an economic recovery policy could both create needed jobs and improve infrastructure without compromising the innovations needed to stay competitive in the global market. In order to achieve this, there must be a strong enough political will to create policy that will be effective in eliminating persistent jobless growth.
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