Invasion of the Robots

Recode.net reported in May 2017, why manufacturing jobs are coming back to the U.S. – even as companies buy more robots. “In April, 12.4 million Americans worked in manufacturing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s up by about 25,000 jobs from a year prior, and almost a million from early 2010. But it’s still down by about one third, or more than six million jobs, from 1980. …

“Last year, for the first time in decades, more manufacturing jobs came back to the United States than left, according to data compiled by the Reshoring Initiative, a firm that works to bring jobs back to the U.S. …

“Even though now both human jobs and robotic manufacturing are on the rise, in the end machines do take away jobs from humans. For every robot brought into the U.S. workforce between 1990 and 2007, six human jobs were lost,”

However, jobs coming back will not stop the popular political pass time in the United States to bash China for stealing jobs from US workers.

In addition, Smirking Chimp.com says, “The perception among some Americans is that immigrant labor and off shoring of jobs are the major causes of unemployment. Indeed, American corporations choose to utilize migrant labor and off shoring to India and China in order to pay out lower wages. Yet, studies have estimated that off shoring accounts for 10 percent of unemployment and would only affect two percent of employed Americans.”

Does that mean that 90% of jobs lost in America were to robots and computers and not to China or other countries with cheap labor?

No matter the facts reveal, it is a safe bet that if someone is out of work, it is easier to blame it on China or Japan or India or South Korea, or Bangladesh, for example, than on some machine probably made in America by another machine that caused the  lost job.

The New York Times even published this in December 2016: “The Long-Term Jobs Killer Is Not China. It’s Automation.”

And it isn’t just the United States that firing humans and replacing them with robots. China is also doing it. Quartz Media reports, “It’s not just the US: Chinese factories are turning to automation as wages rise. … In 2015, according to the International Federation of Robotics, factories in China bought 68,000 industrial robots, 20% more than the year before, and more than all European countries combined.”

Next time you hear someone curse China for stealing jobs from the United States, see if you can shut them up long enough to tell them what’s really happening. “It isn’t other countries that are stealing our jobs, Stupid, its robots.”

What will happen when there are no jobs left for humans because robots took them all?  Will the robots become the consumers of the products they produce?

Lloyd Lofthouse is the award-winning author of My Splendid Concubine, Crazy is Normal, Running with the Enemy, and The Redemption of Don Juan Casanova.

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