Tag Archives | Unemployment

Robots vs. the Underclass

Justin Morgan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Justin Morgan (CC BY-SA 2.0)

Via John Judis at National Journal:

Ever since General Electric installed the first industrial robot in 1961, Americans have been worrying that automation could destroy the country’s labor force. During the Great Recession and its aftermath, these voices grew even louder. “We’re not going to have a jobless recovery,” business writer Jeff Jarvis predicted in 2011. “We’re going to have a jobless future.” “Smart machines won’t kill us all, but they’ll definitely take our jobs and sooner than you think,” Mother Jones warned in 2013.

But which jobs, exactly, are going to disappear? To hear many pundits tell it, the advance of technology is specifically threatening the middle ranks of the workforce. Automation, warned The Economist last October, will lead to “the further erosion of the middle class.” “Robots won’t destroy jobs, but they may destroy the middle class,” a Vox story was titled. The Associated Press produced a series of articles headlined, “What’s destroying the middle class?

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Unemployment and Suicide

Porsche Brosseau (CC By 2.0)

Porsche Brosseau (CC By 2.0)

via PsyBlog:

One in five suicides around the world is caused by this and the figure is rising.

Unemployment is linked to 45,000 suicides around the world each year, a new study finds.

This represents around one in five of the total number of global suicides.

The research, published in The Lancet Psychiatry, gathered data from 63 countries between 2000 and 2011 (Nordt et al., 2015).

They found that the risk of suicide due to unemployment had risen between 20 and 30 per cent across all regions of the world.

Also, since the period included the start of the recession in 2008, they were able to look at its effect.

Dr. Carlos Nordt, who led the study, said:

“After the crisis year in 2008, the number of suicides increased short-term by 5,000 cases.

Therefore, suicides associated with unemployment totaled a nine-fold higher number of deaths than excess suicides attributed to the most recent economic crisis.”

It’s not just the unemployment itself that is linked to suicide, it’s the period leading up to it when employees can face an uncertain and stressful few months, or even longer.

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Massive Worldwide Layoff Underway At IBM

ibm_logo

By Tekla Perry at IEEE Spectrum:

IBMers: Please share your experience with me directly at t.perry@ieee.org, on Twitter @teklaperry, or in the comments below. Keep yourself anonymous if you’d like, identify your job function and location if you’re willing, but tell us your story, we want to hear it.

Project Chrome, a massive layoff that IBM is pretending is not a massive layoff, is underway. First reported by Robert X. Cringely (a pen name) in Forbes, about 26 percent of the company’s global workforce is being shown the door. At more than 100,000 people, that makes it the largest mass layoffat any U.S. corporation in at least 20 years. Cringely wrote that notices have started going out, and most of the hundred-thousand-plus will likely be gone by the end of February.

IBM immediately denied Cringely’s report, indicating that a planned $600 million “workforce rebalancing” was going to involve layoffs (or what the company calls “Resource Actions”) of just thousands of people.

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Everything You Know Is Wrong. Really.

The disinformation mantra has long been “Everything You Know Is Wrong.” Now a new poll across 14 countries by Ipsos MORI shows that in fact, most people really are wrong about the basic make-up of their populations and the scale of key social issues.

  • Teenage birth rates: on average, people across the 14 countries think that 15% of teenagers aged 15-19 give birth each year. This is 12 times higher than the average official estimate of 1.2% across these countries. People in the US guess at a particularly high rate of teenage births, estimating it at 24% of all girls aged 15-19 when it’s actually 3%. But other countries with very low rates of teenage births are further out proportionally: for example, Germans think that 14% of teenage girls give birth each year when it’s actually only 0.4% (35x the actual figure).
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Are we heading for technological unemployment? An Argument

Altar of technology by zeitfaenger.at via Flickr.

Altar of technology by zeitfaenger.at via Flickr.

This piece was first published on Philosophical Disquisitions We’re all familiar with the headlines by now: “Robots are going to steal our jobs”, “Automation will lead to joblessness”, and “AI will replace human labour”. It seems like more and more people are concerned about the possible impact of advanced technology on employment patterns. Last month, Lawrence Summers worried about it in the Wall Street Journal but thought maybe the government could solve the problem. Soon after, Vivek Wadhwa worried about it in the Washington Post, arguing that there was nothing the government could do. Over on the New York TimesPaul Krugman has been worrying about it for years.

But is this really something we should worry about? To answer that, we need to distinguish two related questions:

The Factual Question: Will advances in technology actually lead to technological unemployment?

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Pyrrhic Victories: Medal of Honor Recipient Unemployed and Struggling With PTSD

The plight of Capt. William Swenson: Yet another shameful example of how the United States government treats its "heroes". Via Christian Science Monitor:
Since he retired from the Army, Swenson has made no secret of the fact that he has struggled with combat stress. He is currently unemployed, though he has applied to go back to the military on active duty status, and says he often likes to escape to the mountains where he can find solitude. He told one reporter he specializes in Pyrrhic victories – wins that comes at such a devastating cost that they are indistinguishable from defeat.
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The Ugly Truth: What the Drop in Unemployment Doesn’t Tell You.

ratrace

It’s the same game, only harder!

The truth is out.  We are living in a time when a shocking four out of 5 U.S. adults will struggle with joblessness or poverty.  This revelation not only flies directly in the face of another drop in unemployment, but reconfirms what many of us had already known, we’re in trouble.

If you find yourself looking for a job, you’re in an over-crowded market where the young and educated are relegated to jobs well below their intellectual station. This is due in part to the heavy competition at the of the top of the job market among the highly-skilled.  Basically, those left out of the jobs they really want are knocked down a peg, creating what Economist Paul Beaudry calls “cascading.”  The top pushes down on the middle and the middle pushes down on the bottom, burying those who are most vulnerable and under-qualified.… Read the rest

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Did The Internet Destroy The Middle Class?

destroy the middle classVia Salon, virtual reality pioneer Jaron Lanier puts forth his argument that it is so:

The photography company Kodak employed more than 14,000 people. They even invented the first digital camera. But today Kodak is bankrupt, and the new face of digital photography has become Instagram. The number of people who are contributing to the system to make it viable is probably the same. Instagram wouldn’t work if there weren’t many millions of people using it.

So there’s still a lot of human effort, but the difference is that whereas before when people made contributions to the system that they used, they received formal benefits, which means not only salary but pensions and certain kinds of social safety nets. Now, instead, they receive benefits on an informal basis. And what an informal economy is like is the economy in a developing country slum. It’s reputation, it’s barter, it’s that kind of stuff.

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