The Economic Perspective: “Impact of Automation on Worker Pay”

This is Mary Walden with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.  Today’s program looks at the impact of automation on worker pay.  Mike, one of the most important issues in today’s economy is how the growing capacity of technology and machinery to do things will affect workers’ pay.  Will automating work always hurt workers?

Mike: Summary Answer

  1. Two impacts on workers from automation
  2. One is negative as machines or technology replace workers –leaving workers often to take lower paying jobs
  3. Second is positive, as automation improves worker productivity in tasks where both are used, and leading to higher worker pay
  4. Recent research from NBER looked at the net effect from these opposing effects
  5. Found from 1947-1987 they exactly countered each other on worker pay
  6. But from 1987 to today, the net impact from automation on worker pay has been negative
  7. Hopefully then better paying jobs will come
  8. I’m MW

And I’m Mary Walden for the Economic Perspective, an NC State Extension program from the Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics.