Goodbye to routine jobs

One of the biggest issues in the economy in recent years has been the relatively slow improvement in jobs. NC State University economist Mike Walden outlines some of the reasons for this.

“And if you look at the data you do see this: that the job recovery after the past recession has been the slowest since all the recoveries after World War II. Lots of reasons thrown out about it: tax policies, spending policies, Federal Reserve, global economy, et cetera. But when economists really bore into the data, they find one element standing out, and that is that we are not seeing a return of routine jobs.

“Now, what’s a routine job? Well, it’s a job that requires the same task being done over and over — for example, an auto worker putting a tire on a car, a person entering data into spreadsheets.

“These jobs had grown to be very, very important in our economy. and what’s happening now is they are being taken over by machines and technology. Indeed, during the recession, businesses looked for ways to shed labor and to actually have more tasks done by machines and technology.

“Most economists think this is the wave of the future — that we are going to have more jobs, especially routine jobs, done by non-humans. This is going to be a big issue we are going to have to confront.”