Obama vs. ATMs: Why Technology Doesn’t Destroy Jobs

Last week, President Obama made a strange comment when he cited ATM machines as a reason why unemployment has been so high while he’s been in office.  On Jun. 22, Russell Roberts, a professor at George Mason University offered a smart rebuttal in the Wall Street Journal.  He wrote…

“Businesses relentlessly look for ways to replace workers with machines. The machines get better and smarter… Somehow, new jobs get created to replace the old ones. Despite losing millions of jobs to technology and to trade, even in a recession we have more total jobs than we did when the steel and auto and telephone and food industries had a lot more workers and a lot fewer machines.

“Why do new jobs get created? When it gets cheaper to make food and clothing, there are more resources and people available to create new products that didn't exist before. Fifty years ago, the computer industry was tiny. It was able to expand because we no longer had to have so many workers connecting telephone calls. So many job descriptions exist today that didn't even exist 15 or 20 years ago. That's only possible when technology makes workers more productive…

“In the meanwhile, enjoy the ATM.”

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