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The Economic Perspective: “Is Slower Growth in the Work Force Just What Is Needed?”

I’m Mary Walden with economist MW welcoming you to the economic perspective.  Today’s program asks if slower growth in the work force just what is needed. Mike, with the country’s birth rate falling to almost historic lows, economists are expecting future growth in the work force to be much slower.  On the surface, this doesn’t sound good.  But I understand some economists think a slower growing work force is just what the doctor ordered.  Please explain.

Mike: Summary Answer

  1. Many futurists see advances in technology and machinery causing many businesses to substitute machines for people in accomplishing work
  2. Five years ago two British economists predicted half of today’s occupations would be gone because their tasks would be performed by machines
  3. Obviously, if not replaced by new occupations, could cause high unemployment
  4. But if there are relatively fewer people needing to work, problem won’t be as big
  5. So maybe the two trends – fewer people and more automation – will solve the problem
  6. 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