High Tech, Low Growth: Robots and the Future of Work

in Historical Materialism
No Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?



Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.



Help

Have Institutional Access?



Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



Connect

Abstract

For decades futurists, academics and business experts have argued that automation, robots and other new technology would eliminate millions of jobs. Yet the workforce in the US has continued to grow, even if more slowly, to new heights. Work has changed, but the predicted ‘end of work’ failed to materialise even as technology has advanced, albeit unevenly. This article will argue that the answer to this apparent riddle is not to be found in analysing the technology itself, but in Marxist political economy. The progress of robots and related technology will be examined, but the argument is that the limits on technical progress in the actual production of goods and services lie in the turbulence of capitalism since the 1970s with its uneven profit rates.

High Tech, Low Growth: Robots and the Future of Work

in Historical Materialism

Sections

References

AcemogluDaron and Pascual Restrepo 2017Robots and Jobs: Evidence from US Labor MarketsCambridge, MA: National Bureau of Economic Research.

BerntonHal and Susan Kelleher 2015Amazon Warehouse Jobs Push Workers to Physical LimitSeattle Times17 August available at: <http://www.seattletimes.com/business/amazon-warehouse-jobs-push-workers-to-physical-limit/>.

BorzykowskiBryan 2016How Investors Can Profit from the Rise of the Robotics IndustryCanadian Business1 February available at: <www.canadianbusiness.com/how-investors-can-profit-from-the-rise-of-the-robotics-industry/>.

BotwinickHoward 1993Persistent Inequalities: Wage Disparity under Capitalist CompetitionPrinceton: Princeton University Press.

BryantChris 2012Bosch Warns Industry on Over CapacityFinancial Times26 September available at: <https://www.ft.com/content/c08b78bc-07ca-11e2-8354-00144feabdc0?mhq5j=e1>.

BrynjolfssonEric and Andrew McAfee 2014The Second Machine Age: Work Progress and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant TechnologiesNew York: W.W. Norton & Company.

Bureau of Economic Analysis 2011Relation of Private Fixed Investment in Equipment and Software (by Type) in the Fixed Assets Accounts to the Corresponding Items in the National Income and Product Accounts2 August available at: <https://www.bea.gov/national/FA2004/E%26S_types.pdf>.

Bureau of Economic Analysis 2016a Relation of Private Fixed Investment in Equipment in the Fixed Assets Accounts to the Corresponding Items in the National Income and Product Accounts7 September available at: <https://www.bea.gov/national/FA2004/TypesEq.pdf>.

Bureau of Economic Analysis 2016b Concepts and Methods of the U.S. National Income and Product Accounts Chapter 6 613 to 621 available at: <https://www.bea.gov/methodologies/index.htm#national_meth>.

Bureau of Economic Analysis 2016c Relation of Private Fixed Investment in Equipment in the Fixed Assets Accounts to the Corresponding Items in the National Income and Product Accounts7 September available at: <https://www.bea.gov/national/FA2004/TypesEq.pdf>.

Bureau of Economic Analysis 2017a Gross Output by Industry available at: <https://www.bea.gov/iTable/download.cfm>.

Bureau of Economic Analysis 2017b Current Cost Net Stock of Private Equipment by Industry Table 3.1E Revised 23 August 2017 available at: <https://www.bea.gov/iTable/iTable.cfm?ReqID=10&step=1#reqid=10&step=3&isuri=1&1003=21&1004=1980&1005=2016&1006=a&1011=0&1010=x>.

Bureau of Economic Analysis 2017c Current Cost Net Stock of Private Equipment by Industry Table 3.1E Revised 23 August 2017.

Bureau of Economic Analysis 2017d Sources and Uses of Private Enterprise Income Table 1.156 3 August 2017 available at: <https://www.bea.gov/iTable/print.cfm?fid=937B2CCA9FB4E7A4B3DF16F80F6843DF458DAAE8CCA695E0C123CE3C52643616205224D8B674085F3C4DE021754C0D168E4144F27BF1C72581B1D0BCF559A533>.

Bureau of Economic Analysis 2017e U.S. Net International Investment Position at the End of the Period Expanded Detail Table 1.2 available at: <https://www.bea.gov/international/bp_web/tb_download_type_modern.cfm?list=2&RowID=144>.

Bureau of Economic Analysis 2017f Current Dollar and Real Gross Domestic Product available at: <https://www.bea.gov/national/index.htm#gdp>.

Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017a ‘Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics Survey (National)’ All Employees Commercial Banking available at: <https://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOurputServlet>.

Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017b ‘Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics Survey (National)’ All Employees Warehousing available at: <https://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOurputServlet>.

Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017c The Employment Situation – July 2017 News ReleaseUSDL-17-1070 4 August 2017 Table A.

Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017d ‘Automotive Industry: Employment, Earnings, and HoursNational Employment available at: <https://data.bls.gov/cgi-binprint.pl/iag/tgs/iagauto.htm>.

Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017e ‘Employment, Hours, and Earnings from the Current Employment Statistics Survey (National)’ Transportation and Warehousing available at: <https://data.bls.gov/pdq/SurveyOurputServlet>.

Bureau of Labor Statistics 2017f Industries at a GlanceWarehousing and Storage NAICS 4939 November 2017 available at: <https://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/print.pl/iag/tgs/iag493.htm>.

Cisco-Eagle 2017What Is the Average Warehouse?’ available at: <http://www.cisco-eagle.com/industries-served/order-fullfullment/the-typical-warehouse>.

CooperDavid 2016A Majority of Low-Wage Workers Earn so Little that they Must Rely on Public Assistance to Make Ends MeetEconomic Snapshot: Wages Income and Wealth9 February 2016 Economic Policy Institute available at: <www.epi.org/publication/a-majorty-of-low-wage-workers-earn-so-little-they-must-rely-on-public-assistance-to-make-ends-meet/>.

Council of Economic Advisers 2011Economic Report of the President 2011Washington DC: US Government Printing Office.

DaviesPaul S. 1993Factors Influencing Employment in the U.S. Automobile IndustryThe Park Place Economist11 available at: <http://digitalcommons.iwu.edu/parkplace/vol1.iss1/8>.

Federal Reserve 2017Industrial Production, Capacity, and Utilization’ available at: <https://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/g17/current/ipg1.svg>.

FeeleyDianne 2016Big Three Contracts: Who Won?Against The Current180: 46.

FordMartin 2016The Rise of the Robots: Technology and the Threat of Mass UnemploymentLondon: Oneworld Publications, Ltd.

FreyCarl Benedikt and Michael A. Osborne 2017The Future of Employment: How Susceptible Are Jobs to Computerization?Technological Forecasting & Social Change114: 254280.

GageDeborah 2012The Venture Capital Secret: 3 out of 4 Start-Ups FailWall Street Journal20 September available at: <https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB10000872396390443720204578004980476429190>.

Gimenez-Nadal Jose Ignacio and Alumdena Sevilla-Sanz 2015 ‘Job Polarization and the Intensification of Work in the United Kingdom and the United States over the Last Decades: Evidence from Time Diary Data’ paper delivered at the Fourth Society of Labor Educators/European Association of Labour Economists Global Meeting Montreal Quebec Canada 26–8 June available at: <www.parthen-impact.com/parthen-uploads/78/2015/add_1_258840_lLPu4oUWUf.pdf>.

GlaserApril 2017The Industrial Robotics Market Will Nearly Triple in Less than Ten Years: Collaborative Robots Are Expected to Account for a Third of that MarketRecode22 June available at: <https://www.recorde.net/2017/6/22/15763106/industrial-robotics-market-triple-tens-years-collaborative-robots>.

Google+ 2017Say Hello to WaymoGoogle Self-driving Car Project available at: <https://plus.google.com/+SelfDrivingCar>.

GordonRobert J. 2016The Rise and Fall of American Growth: The U.S. Standard of Living Since the Civil WarPrinceton: Princeton University Press.

GreenDennis and Anaele Pelison 2017This Map of Amazon’s Warehouse Locations Shows How It’s Taking Over AmericaBusiness Insider UK27 September available at: <http://uk.businessinsider.com/amazon-warehouse-locations-in-uas-2017-9?=US&IR=T>.

HaltiwangerJohnRon Jarmin and Javier Miranda 2012Where Have All the Young Firms Gone?’ Business Dynamics Statistics Briefing Kansas City, MO: Kaufman, the Foundation of Entrepreneurship available at: <https://www.census.gov/ces/pdf/BDS_StatBrief6_Young_Firms.pdf>.

HarringtonLisa 2008Warehouse Labor Performance: And the Winner is … EveryoneInbound Logistics15 May available at: <http://www.inboundlogistics.com/cms/article/warehouse-labor-performance-and-the-winner-iseveryone/>.

HoganAndrew and Brian Roberts 2015Occupational Employment Projections to 2024Monthly Labor Review US Bureau of Labor Statistics December 2015 available at: <https://doi.org/10.21916/mlr.2015.49>.

HookLeslie 2017Out of Road: Driverless Vehicles and the End of the TruckerFinancial Times30 March available at: <https://www.ft.com/content/2d70469c-14a-11e7-b0c1-37e417ee6c76?mhq5j=e3>.

HuntGordon 2017GM’s Robot Production Line Has its Head in the CloudSilicon Republic5 April available at: <www.siliconrepublic.com/machines/gm-gneral-motors-robots>.

International Federation of Robotics 2016Executive Summary World Robotics 2016 Service RobotsWorld Robotics 2016 available at: <https://ifr.org/downloads/press/02_2016/Executive_Summary_Service_Robots_2016.pdf>.

International Federation of Robotics 2017Executive Summary World Robotics 2017 Industrial Robots’ available at: <https://ifr.org/downloads/press/Executive_Summary_WR_2017_Industrial_Robots.pdf>.

MarxKarl 1990Capital: A Critique of Political Economy. Volume One translated by Ben FowkesHarmondsworth: Penguin.

MichelRoberto 2017In the Thick of e-commerce AdjustmentsSupply Chain Management Review7211: 5055.

MishelLawrence and Josh Bivens 2017The Zombie Robot Argument Lurches OnWashington DC: Economic Policy Institute available at: <http://www.epi.org/publication/the-zombie-robot-argument-lurches-on-there-is-no-evidence-that-automation-leads-to-joblessness-or-inequality/>.

MoodyKim 2017On New Terrain: How Capital Is Reshaping the Battleground of Class WarChicago: Haymarket Books.

MoodyKim and Simone Sagovac 1995Time Out: The Case for a Shorter Work WeekDetroit: Labor Notes.

MunroMark 2017Where the Robots AreBrookings14 August available at: <https://www.brookings.edu/blog/the-avenue/2017/08/14/where-the-robotsare/?utm_campaign=Metropolitan%20Policy%20Program&utm_source=hs_email&utm_medium=email&utm_content=55625426>.

OECD 2017Main Science and Technology IndicatorsParis: Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development available at: <http://oe.cd/msti>.

ParkerMike 2017Management-by-Stress: A Reply to Joshua Murray and Michael SchwartzCatalyst12: 173194.

RichardsGwynne 2014Warehouse Management: A Complete Guide to Improving Efficiency and Minimizing Costs in the Modern WarehouseSecond EditionLondon: Kogan Page.

RifkinJeremy 1995The End of Work: The Decline of the Global Labor Force and the Dawn of the Post-Market Era New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

RobertsMichael 2016The Long Depression: How It Happened Why It Happened and What Happens NextChicago: Haymarket Books.

SandersAlison and Meldon Wolfgang 2014The Rise of RoboticsBCG PerspectiveBoston Consulting Group available at: <www.bcgperspectives.com/centent/articles/business_unit_strategy_innovation_rise_of_robotics/>.

ShaikhAnwar 2016Capitalism: Competition Conflict Crises New York: Oxford University Press.

SheffiYossi 2012Logistics Clusters: Delivering Value and Delivering GrowthCambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

ShortJeffrey and Dan Murray 2016Identifying Autonomous Vehicle Technology Impacts on the Trucking IndustryNovemberArlington, VA: American Transportation Research Institute.

Statistic Brain 2017Startup Business Failure Rate by Industry’ available at: <www.statisticsbrain.com/startup-failure-by-industry>.

The Economist 2015Humanoid Robots: After the Fall13 June available at: <https://www-economist-com.ezproxy.westminster.ac.uk/news/science-and-technology/21654011-pitting-robots-against-each-other-shows-promise-and-many-pitfalls>.

US Census Bureau 2001Statistical Abstract of the United States 2001Washington DC: US Government Printing Office.

US Census Bureau 2011Statistical Abstract of the United States 2012Washington DC: US Government Printing Office.

US Census Bureau 2014Warehousing & Storage NAICS 493 available at: <https://www2.census.gov/programs-surveys/susb/tables/2014/us_6digitnaics_2014.xlsx>.

WatersDonald and Stephen Rinsler 2014Global Logistics: New Directions in Supply Chain ManagementSeventh EditionLondon: Kogan Page.

WelchDavid 2008Automakers’ Overcapacity ProblemBloomberg Business Week31 December available at: <https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2008-12-30/automakers-overcapacity-problem>.

WingfieldNick 2017As Amazon Pushes Forward with Robots, Workers Find New RolesNew York Times10 September available at: <https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/10/technology/amazon-robots-workers.html?emc=eta1>.

WoodEllen Meiksins 2002The Origin of Capitalism: A Longer ViewLondon: Verso.

World Economic Forum 2016The Future of Jobs: Employment Skills and Workforce Strategy of the Fourth Industrial RevolutionGeneva: World Economic Forum.

World Trade Organization 2017World Trade Report 2017Geneva: World Trade Organization.

Zebra Technologies 2015Warehousing 2018Lincolnshire, IL: ZIH Corp. available at: <https://www.zebra.com/content/dam/zebra_new_ia/en-us/solutions-verticals/vertical-solutions/warehouse-management/white-paper/ZEB_WarehouseVision_WhitePaper.pdf>.

Figures

Information

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 987 987 314
Full Text Views 121 121 57
PDF Downloads 102 102 39
EPUB Downloads 1 1 0