The main excuse for no jobs is “it’s the economy.” I have been thinking about this and the more I think about it I realize it’s not the economy, it’s the technology.
Back in the day when jobs were plentiful the technology was just growing. There was no Internet, no home computers and the closest thing to the digital camera was a Polaroid. In the days before answering machines, there were companies that actually answered the phones for you; a real human really had that job. Some offices had receptionists that brought messages to your desk now everyone has their own voicemail, once again not the economy but technology. Remember printing companies? There are still a few around but a lot of people do their own printing right on their desktops. Most people have a printer, scanner copier on their desk, once again technology.
The debit card was introduced around 1970 to be used at the Automated Teller Machine. It was a convenience to the customer but it was also a way to replace tellers. Just think this machine can dispense cash, take deposits, and in some cases take payments, transfer funds from savings to checking, do cash advances all without calling off sick and you don’t have to pay the ATM benefits. So it’s not the economy it’s the technology.
I watched the change in technology while I worked in radio. When I began I learned how to splice tape with a razor and then that was quickly outdated and I learned how to edit on the computer. Syndication became a big thing and radio stations needed fewer people. Technology again replaced humans.
The United States Post Office is closing offices and laying people off. That was one of the most stable places to work in the country. Everyone wanted to work in the Post Office, but then this thing called email was introduced. People started to send out e-cards, pay bills online, buy postage online and they didn’t go to the Post Office as much. So now we don’t need as many people to deliver the mail, nor do we need the offices. Once again it is the technology not the economy.
Think about your trips to the grocery store, self-serve checkout lanes mean fewer cashiers, bar coding on items means no one has to price the item. Sometimes the technology is good and other times not so good; can you say “wine kiosk?”
I do see signs from time to time where retail establishments are looking for employees. If you are out of work and your unemployment is about to end you will have to think about making an adjustment. You want to make a living until you can get back to something close to what you once had. But you may never get back to that same job. A lot of jobs have gone overseas, and a lot of people have come to the Unites States and may now have what you thought was your job. Note to President Obama, what we need is the next big thing to be made and invented in America; something that will provide jobs for Americans, jobs that will not be shipped overseas. So that phrase made popular during the Clinton campaign, “it’s the economy, stupid” should be changed, “it’s the technology, stupid.”
(E-mail the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org.)