Automation could kill 11.9 million American jobs over the next three years, Bloomberg claims.
To clarify Bloomberg and IBM (NYSE: IBM) estimate 11.9 million Americans will need retraining because robots and artificial intelligence (AI) will take their jobs. Frighteningly, we could lose those jobs in the next three years.
Technological unemployment could destabilize the People’s Republic of China, Bloomberg speculates. To explain, IBM predicts automation will kill 50.3 million Chinese jobs over the next three years. Thus, the People’s Republic will need to retrain 50.3 million workers.
Nor is it just China, automation could kill 7.2 million Brazilian jobs, 4.9 German jobs, and 2.9 Japanese jobs by 2022. Frighteningly, Bloomberg predicts technology will kill 120 million jobs worldwide in three years.
Can we Retrain Workers for the Technological Jobs Apocalypse?
The technological jobs apocalypse will be a nightmare for educators and governments if these projections come true. For instance, 54% of employees will require significant re-skilling and retraining by 2022, The World Economic Forum speculates.
In addition, workers could require 36 days of training to close the skills gap in 2022, IBM predicts. I have to wonder if any organization could afford to retrain workers under those circumstances.
Moreover, there is data that shows efforts to retrain the technologically unemployed often fail. American presidential candidate Andrew Yang (D-New York) claims only 37% of the workers the U.S. government’s Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) program retrained found work.
Job Retraining May Not Work
Meanwhile, the incomes of most of the people in the TAA never returned to the levels before job loss, The Atlantic alleges. In addition, retraining is only effective when it begins before workers lose their jobs.
“If you wait until they are out of a job, the emotion of losing a job comes into play; they start to get accustomed to not working, they get rusty,” Jane Oates tells The Atlantic. Importantly, Oates was an assistant U.S. Secretary of Labor in the Obama administration.
Thus, it could be impossible to retrain many of the workers who may lose their jobs.
The Basic Income Debate will Heat Up
If IBM and Bloomberg’s claims come, the debate over Basic Income will grow. Interestingly, the basic income is attracting a lot of attention in the United States thanks to Yang’s Freedom Dividend proposal.
Under the Freedom Dividend, Yang proposes giving every American a $1,000 a month or $12,000 a year basic income. Notably, Yang out polls several established politicians including; former Congressman Beto O’Rourke (D-Texas), in the Democratic presidential race.
Yang is sixth in the polls for the 2020 Democratic Presidential primary, RealClearPolitics estimates. In addition, Yang received more Twitter mentions during debates than the supposed Democratic front runner former Vice President Joe Biden (D-Delaware), Axios estimates.
Beyond Yang, 26% of Americans, or over one-in-four, support a $1,000 a month basic income for all Americans, the NPR/PBS News Hour/Marist poll estimates. Thus technological job loss is already on Americans’ minds and a major part of the political debate.
What are the Alternatives to Basic Income?
I think the growing support for Yang shows average Americans understand the implications of technological job loss and want something done about it. Critics of Yang like Medium writer Caitlin Johnstone and author Steve Greenhouse need to come up with better alternatives to basic income.
Notably, all Greenhouse can propose is adding workers to corporate boards. Unfortunately, Greenhouse’s proposal will only create a handful of high-paying jobs for blue collar types – as corporate yes-men or yes-women. I think the last thing America needs is more corporate yes-people.
I do not think handing a few workers keys to the executives’ washroom will do anything for the people whose jobs machines are taking. In fact, I suspect workers on the corporate board will join their executive brethren in voting to maximize corporate profits and increase the value of their stock options. Therefore, the workers on the board will vote to buy job-killing tech before adjourning to join their new friends on the golf course.
We need such alternatives and basic income now because Bloomberg and IBM’s numbers show the technological jobs apocalypse is upon us.
Originally published at https://marketmadhouse.com on September 10, 2019.