The Economic Perspective: “Wal-Mart and Robots”

I’m Mary Walden with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.  Today’s program looks at Wal-Mart and robots.  Mike, recently the nation’s largest private employer, Wal-Mart, announced it would be adding sophisticated machines – in other words, robot, to as many as 1500 stores nationwide.  What will this mean for employees in those stores?  Is this just the beginning of – what many think will be – the ultimate replacement of workers by machines?

 

Mike:  Summary Answer

  1. According to Wal-Mart, the answer is no
  2. Said they are using robots to do many menial tasks their workers don’t like, such as scanning shelves and cleaning floors
  3. Company said they will move workers to other tasks, like fulfilling on-line orders
  4. This is a pattern many experts think will occur
  5. Machinery will be used to do the dull tasks – tasks that may cost them in employees leaving
  6. Then use workers for emerging tasks
  7. We’ll see if this happens
  8. I’m MW

 

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