Note to Tom Friedman: Technology Creates, Not Destroys, Jobs

Robert D. Atkinson January 25, 2012
January 25, 2012

Tom Friedman's Op-Ed in The New York Times in which he argues technology is destorying jobs is essentially a flawed argument. There are three essential reasons for this. First, the economic evidence. It is unambiguous that higher rates of productivity lead to more jobs in the medium to long term, not fewer jobs. Second, the most serious challenge facing the U.S. economy over the next 25 years is the declining worker to population ratio as the baby boomers age. Finally, if we want to raise the living standards of Americans now holding low wage jobs, the best way to do it is to increase, not decrease, automation of these jobs. When a job can only produce 10 dollars an hour in value, there is no way to pay more than $10 per hour. If we can use technology to boost the productivity of many low wage, low productivity jobs, we can pay more for these jobs and workers who move out of these occupations can move into higher value added ones.