MIT Study: Effects of Automation on the Future of Work Challenges Policymakers  

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The 2020 MIT Task Force on the Future of Work suggests how the productiveness positive aspects of automation can coexist with alternative for low-wage staff. (Credit: Getty Images)

By John P. Desmond, AI Trends Editor  

Rising productiveness introduced on by automation has not led a rise in revenue for staff. This is amongst the conclusions of the 2020 report from the MIT Task Force on the Future of Work, based in 2018 to review the relation between rising applied sciences and work, to form public discourse and discover methods to allow a sharing of prosperity.  

Dr. Elisabeth Reynolds, Executive Director, MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future

“Wages have stagnated,” mentioned Dr. Elisabeth Reynolds, Executive Director, MIT Task Force on the Work of the Future, who shared outcomes of the new job power report at the AI and the Work of the Future Congress 2020 held just about final week.   

The report made three areas of suggestions, the first round translating productiveness positive aspects from advances in automation to raised high quality jobs. “The quality of jobs in this country has been falling and not keeping up with those in other countries,” she mentioned. Among wealthy international locations, the US is amongst the worst locations for the much less educated and low-paid staff.” For instance, the common hourly wage for low-paid staff in the US is $10/hour, in comparison with $14/hour for comparable staff in Canada, who’ve well being care advantages from nationwide insurance coverage. 

“Our workers are falling behind,” she mentioned.  

The second space of suggestion was to speculate and innovate in schooling and abilities coaching. “This is a pillar of our strategy going forward,” Reynolds mentioned. The report focuses on staff between highschool and a four-year diploma. “We focus on multiple examples to help workers find the right path to skilled jobs,” she mentioned.  

Many alternatives are rising in well being care, for instance, particularly round well being data technicians. She cited the IBM P-TECH program, which gives public highschool college students from underserved backgrounds with abilities they want for aggressive STEM jobs, as a superb instance of schooling innovation. P-TECH colleges allow college students to earn each their highschool diploma and a two 12 months affiliate diploma linked to rising STEM fields.  

The third space of innovation is to form and develop innovation.  

“Innovation creates jobs and will help the US meet competitive challenges from abroad,” Reynolds mentioned. R&D funding as a p.c of GDP in the US has stayed pretty regular for states from 1953 to 2015, however help from the federal authorities has declined over that point. “We want to see greater activity by the US government,” she mentioned. 

In a rustic that’s politically divided and economically polarized, many have a concern of know-how. Deploying new know-how into the present labor market has the potential to make such divisions worse, persevering with downward stress on wages, abilities and advantages, and widening revenue inequality. “We reject the false tradeoffs between economic growth and having a strong labor market,” Dr. Reynolds mentioned. “Other countries have done it better and the US can do it as well,” she mentioned, noting many roles that exist at present didn’t exist 40 years in the past. 

The COVID-19 disaster has exacerbated the totally different realities between low-paid staff deemed “essential” needing to be bodily current to earn their livings, and higher-paid staff in a position to work remotely by way of computer systems, the report famous.   

The Task Force is co-chaired by MIT Professors David Autor, Economics, and David Mindell, Engineering, along with Dr. Reynolds. Members of the job power embody greater than 20 college members drawn from 12 departments at MIT, in addition to over 20 graduate college students. The 2020 Report will be discovered right here.   

Low-Wage Workers in US Fare Less Well Than Those in Other Advanced Countries  

James Manyika, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Co.

In a dialogue on the state of low-wage jobs, James Manyika, Senior Partner, McKinsey & Co., mentioned low-wage staff haven’t fared nicely throughout the 37 international locations of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), “and in the US, they have fared far worse than in other advanced countries,” he mentioned. Jobs can be found, however the wages are decrease and, “Work has become a lot more fragile,” with many roles in the gig employee economic system (Uber, Lyft for instance) and never full-time jobs with some stage of advantages. 

Addressing value of residing, Manyika mentioned the value of merchandise comparable to automobiles and TVs have declined as a proportion of revenue, however prices of housing, schooling and well being care have elevated dramatically and aren’t inexpensive for a lot of. The progress in the low-wage gig-worker kind of job has coincided with “the disappearance of labor market protections and worker voice,” he mentioned, noting, “The power of workers has declined dramatically.” 

Geographically, two-thirds of US job progress has occurred in 25 metropolitan areas. “Other parts of the country have fared far worse,” he mentioned. “This is a profound challenge.”  

In a session on Labor Market Dynamics, Susan Houseman, VP and Director of Research, W.E. Upjohn Institute for Employment Research, drew a comparability to Denmark for some contrasts. Denmark has a powerful security internet of advantages for the unemployed, whereas the US has “one of the least generous unemployment systems in the world,” she mentioned. “This will be more important in the future with the growing displacement caused by new technology.”  

Another distinction between the US and Denmark is the relationship of labor to administration. “The Danish system has a long history of labor management cooperation, with two-thirds of Danish workers in a union,” she mentioned. “In the US, unionization rates have dropped to 10%.”  

“We have a long history of labor management confrontation and not cooperation,” Houseman mentioned. “Unions have really been weakened in the US.”  

As for suggestions, she instructed that the US strengthen its unemployment programs, assist labor organizations to construct, elevate the federal minimal wage [Ed. Note: Federal minimum wage increased to $10/hour on Jan. 2, 2020, raised from $7.25/hour, which was set in 2009.], and supply common medical health insurance, “to take it out of the employment market.” 

She suspects the quantity of staff designated as unbiased contractors is “likely understated” in the knowledge.   

Jayaraman of One Fair Wage Recommends Sectoral Bargaining 

Saru Jayaraman, President One Fair Wage and Director, Food Labor Research Center, University of California, Berkeley

Later in the day, Saru Jayaraman, President One Fair Wage and Director, Food Labor Research Center, at the University of California, Berkeley, spoke about her work with staff and enterprise homeowners. One Fair Wage is a non-profit group that advocates for a good minimal wage, together with for instance, a suggestion that suggestions be counted as a complement to minimal wage for restaurant staff.  

“We fight for higher wages and better working conditions, but it’s more akin to sectoral bargaining in other parts of the world,” she mentioned. Sectoral collective bargaining is an effort to succeed in an settlement protecting all staff in a sector of the economic system, versus between staff for particular person companies. “It is a social contract,” Jayaraman mentioned.  

In France, 98% of staff had been coated by sectoral bargaining as of 2015. ”The conventional fashions for bettering wages and dealing circumstances office by office don’t work,” she mentioned. She spoke of the want to keep up a “consumer base” of staff who put a reimbursement into the economic system.   

With the pandemic inflicting many eating places to reduce or shut, extra restaurant homeowners have reached out to her group in an effort to get staff again with the assist of extra cooperative agreements. “We have been approached by hundreds of restaurants in the last six months who are saying it’s time to change to a minimum wage,” she mentioned. “Many were moved that so many workers were not getting unemployment insurance. They are rethinking every aspect of their businesses. They want a more functional system where everybody gets paid, and we move away from slavery. It’s a sea change among employers.”   

She mentioned almost 800 eating places are actually members of her group. 

For the future, “We don’t have time for each workplace to be organized. We need to be innovating with sectoral bargaining to raise wages and working conditions across sectors. That is the future combined with workplace organizing,” she mentioned.  

Read the 2020 report from the MIT Task Force on the Future of Work; find out about IBM P-TECH and about One Fair Wage. 

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