PDA

View Full Version : Is Your Job an Endangered Species?



Gingersnap
02-17-2011, 12:29 PM
Is Your Job an Endangered Species?

Technology is eating jobs—and not just obvious ones like toll takers and phone operators. Lawyers and doctors are at risk as well.

By ANDY KESSLER

So where the heck are all the jobs? Eight-hundred billion in stimulus and $2 trillion in dollar-printing and all we got were a lousy 36,000 jobs last month. That's not even enough to absorb population growth.

You can't blame the fact that 26 million Americans are unemployed or underemployed on lost housing jobs or globalization—those excuses are played out. To understand what's going on, you have to look behind the headlines. That 36,000 is a net number. The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that in December some 4,184,000 workers (seasonally adjusted) were hired, and 4,162,000 were "separated" (i.e., laid off or quit). This turnover tells the story of our economy—especially if you focus on jobs lost as a clue to future job growth.

With a heavy regulatory burden, payroll taxes and health-care costs, employing people is very expensive. In January, the Golden Gate Bridge announced that it will have zero toll takers next year: They've been replaced by wireless FastTrak payments and license-plate snapshots.

Technology is eating jobs—and not just toll takers.

Tellers, phone operators, stock brokers, stock traders: These jobs are nearly extinct. Since 2007, the New York Stock Exchange has eliminated 1,000 jobs. And when was the last time you spoke to a travel agent? Nearly all of them have been displaced by technology and the Web. Librarians can't find 36,000 results in 0.14 seconds, as Google can. And a snappily dressed postal worker can't instantly deliver a 140-character tweet from a plane at 36,000 feet.

So which jobs will be destroyed next? Figure that out and you'll solve the puzzle of where new jobs will appear.

Forget blue-collar and white- collar. There are two types of workers in our economy: creators and servers. Creators are the ones driving productivity—writing code, designing chips, creating drugs, running search engines. Servers, on the other hand, service these creators (and other servers) by building homes, providing food, offering legal advice, and working at the Department of Motor Vehicles. Many servers will be replaced by machines, by computers and by changes in how business operates. It's no coincidence that Google announced it plans to hire 6,000 workers in 2011.

But even the label "servers" is too vague. So I've broken down the service economy further, as a guide to figure out the next set of unproductive jobs that will disappear. (Don't blame me if your job is listed here; technology spares no one, not even writers.)

• Sloppers are those that move things—from one side of a store or factory to another. Amazon is displacing thousands of retail workers. DMV employees and so many other government workers move information from one side of a counter to another without adding any value. Such sloppers are easy to purge with clever code.

• Sponges are those who earned their jobs by passing a test meant to limit supply. According to this newspaper, 23% of U.S. workers now need a state license. The Series 7 exam is required for stock brokers. Cosmetologists, real estate brokers, doctors and lawyers all need government certification. All this does is legally bar others from doing the same job, so existing workers can charge more and sponge off the rest of us.

But eDiscovery is the hottest thing right now in corporate legal departments. The software scans documents and looks for important keywords and phrases, displacing lawyers and paralegals who charge hundreds of dollars per hour to read the often millions of litigation documents. Lawyers, understandably, hate eDiscovery.

Doctors are under fire as well, from computer imaging that looks inside of us and from Computer Aided Diagnosis, which looks for patterns in X-rays to identify breast cancer and other diseases more cheaply and effectively than radiologists do. Other than barbers, no sponges are safe.

Much more at the link.

WSJ (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703439504576116340050218236.html?m od=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop)

NJCardFan
02-17-2011, 09:34 PM
You know, this may sound weird, but I wish it was.

Articulate_Ape
02-17-2011, 09:47 PM
You know, this may sound weird, but I wish it was.

Was what? A slopper or a sponge? :p

Rockntractor
02-17-2011, 09:52 PM
Technology didn't just suddenly eat up all of our jobs, we have an absolutely out of control government that is destroying any chance of ever having a good economy as long as it exists in its present form.

Articulate_Ape
02-17-2011, 09:54 PM
Technology didn't just suddenly eat up all of our jobs, we have an absolutely out of control government that is destroying any chance of ever having a good economy as long as it exists in its present form.


Well, actually, both are true.

Rockntractor
02-17-2011, 09:59 PM
Well, actually, both are true.

We went from 5% unemployment which for all practical purposes is total employment, to 20% actual(not the 9% drawing benefits) almost overnight. I don't remember a huge breakthrough in technological development the fall of 2008.

PoliCon
02-17-2011, 10:07 PM
Technology didn't just suddenly eat up all of our jobs, we have an absolutely out of control government that is destroying any chance of ever having a good economy as long as it exists in its present form.

right - technology comes along and replaces human beings when it becomes cheaper to use the technology than to use a human being to do the job. I mean look at what toll takers earn! WTF qualifies them for more than minimum wage?

Articulate_Ape
02-17-2011, 10:11 PM
We went from 5% unemployment which for all practical purposes is total employment, to 20% actual(not the 9% drawing benefits) almost overnight. I don't remember a huge breakthrough in technological development the fall of 2008.

A: It was not overnight. Quick, but not THAT quick.

B: We saw the long-expected death knell of old school manufacturing jobs over a decade ago. It just hit home.

C: Much of the employment earlier in the last decade was related to creating systems that would obviate the need for the very creators of those systems, let alone the broader systems the OP article refers to.

Life has always been a "change or die" proposition, regardless of one's ideology. I would submit that the dynamic expounded upon in that article is simply a tiny microcosm of that unavoidable reality.

Rockntractor
02-17-2011, 10:26 PM
A: It was not overnight. Quick, but not THAT quick.

B: We saw the long-expected death knell of old school manufacturing jobs over a decade ago. It just hit home.

C: Much of the employment earlier in the last decade was related to creating systems that would obviate the need for the very creators of those systems, let alone the broader systems the OP article refers to.

Life has always been a "change or die" proposition, regardless of one's ideology. I would submit that the dynamic expounded upon in that article is simply a tiny microcosm of that unavoidable reality.

It has been this way since the industrial revolution but their is a different wind blowing now and I think it will be the opposite of progress and innovation. I hope we wake up in time to stop it.

NJCardFan
02-17-2011, 11:26 PM
It has been this way since the industrial revolution but their is a different wind blowing now and I think it will be the opposite of progress and innovation. I hope we wake up in time to stop it.

It's been that way longer than the industrial revolution. Necessity is the mother of invention. Farming by hand turned into using beasts of burden. Sticks and stones turned into spears which turned into the bow and arrow which turned into the musket which turned into the machine gun which turned into the atomic bomb which turned into ballistic missiles. Single handedly writing texts led to the printing press which eventually led to Microsoft Word. If you don't evolve with the changes, you will be left behind and die.

Articulate_Ape
02-17-2011, 11:48 PM
It has been this way since the industrial revolution but their is a different wind blowing now and I think it will be the opposite of progress and innovation. I hope we wake up in time to stop it.

I agree. But there is also now a growing tailwind that might still overcome that headwind as it has so many times before. It's change or die time yet again.

noonwitch
02-18-2011, 11:47 AM
As long as there are social problems, there'll be social workers. The only question is whether they will get paid directly by the government for their work, or whether some private agency will be the government's middle man.

Gingersnap
02-18-2011, 12:33 PM
As long as there are social problems, there'll be social workers. The only question is whether they will get paid directly by the government for their work, or whether some private agency will be the government's middle man.

I dunno. We didn't have any social workers for the previous 10,000 years and it seemed to work out. :p

noonwitch
02-18-2011, 01:12 PM
I dunno. We didn't have any social workers for the previous 10,000 years and it seemed to work out. :p

The majority of people also thought mental illness was caused by demon possession for most of that time frame.

Gingersnap
02-18-2011, 01:23 PM
The majority of people also thought mental illness was caused by demon possession for most of that time frame.

You mean it isn't?


The outcomes seem to be pretty much the same either way. :D

Madisonian
02-18-2011, 01:26 PM
Just to be disgreeable, I would say that as long as we have social workers, they will work to find social problems to solve.

For example, when I went to school back in the middle ages, kids still sometimes died. There were no grief counselors or candle ceremonies, it was just accepted as sometimes shit happens.
Contrast that to now when if a student dies, busses are rented to bring in the onslaught of counselors required to ease the pain of the loss.
Of course if you don't feel all that broken up because a classmate died (hey, maybe he /she was a real twerp) then you need counseling to deal with your lack of grief issues.

We know that all of this works because schools are so much better and providing a vastly superior education than they were 40 - 50 years ago and students are so much more well adjusted. (That last part was sarcasm in case no one noticed)

BadCat
02-18-2011, 07:12 PM
No.

I'm one of the people that writes the software that puts people out of work.

lacarnut
02-18-2011, 07:27 PM
when I went to school back in the middle ages, kids still sometimes died. There were no grief counselors or candle ceremonies, it was just accepted as sometimes shit happens.
Contrast that to now when if a student dies, busses are rented to bring in the onslaught of counselors required to ease the pain of the loss.
Of course if you don't feel all that broken up because a classmate died (hey, maybe he /she was a real twerp) then you need counseling to deal with your lack of grief issues.



Same here. My best friend in college died in a car crash. Shit happens and back then you move on compared to this touchy, feely, flower child like attitude of the young crowd today.

SaintLouieWoman
02-18-2011, 11:10 PM
I'm glad that I got out of selling office equipment to the feds. I didn't sell the least expensive products, so in the days of supposed budget cuts, the sales would be leaner and leaner. I heard that they didn't fill my job when I left, just dispersed some of my accounts to general sales reps, vs a specialist.

Actually it's a good thing if the gov't spends less.