THE TALE OF TWO CURVES

Hope everyone has listened to /processed the lecture. I end the lecture with some new hypotheses/questions.

 

1. First, your overall reaction to the lecture – – most especially to the two curves and what you read from it.

2. History, it seems, is an unreliable analytical companion in the current moment. Given 50 years of low wage growth in spite of dramatic gains in productivity and more recent trends of slowing job growth is it possible that we are in the midst of a very different regime of automation than the ones we have known before.

3. Given such dramatic rise in productivity and the absolute stagnation of wages for half a century should we consider a productivity dividend – – say a Future Of Work Fund — that can be used for meeting basic human necessities, education and training and accelerated responses to the ecological crisis etc.?

44 thoughts on “THE TALE OF TWO CURVES

  1. 1. I think the two charts that were shown and discussed in the lecture are worrisome for the economy and for hourly-wage employees. The first graph shows the relationship between labor productivity and employment. As productivity is able to be improved via new technology, the need for more workers to meet customer demand is no longer as present. This explains why the GDP is increasing while the employment rate has stayed relatively stagnant in the last ten years. I think the second graph is more alarming due to the fact that the trend is existing for a longer period of time (since the 1970’s). What this graph shows is that the average hourly compensation has remained the same while productivity has drastically increased.

    2. As mentioned earlier, I think the low wage growth rate in spite of dramatic gains in productivity is cause for concern. With higher productivity, it would be expected that workers are paid more. With that being said, it is important to note that the graph is only focused on hourly workers. With improvements in technology, hourly individuals are able to move into higher-paying salaried jobs. The data here (https://www.statista.com/statistics/185521/total-number-of-wage-and-salary-workers/) shows a 150% increase in the number of wage and salaried workers in the United States since 1979. So although we are seeing stagnant wages for hourly employees, we are seeing a large number of hourly employees with the opportunity to go full-time, which normally comes with better pay and benefits. Even with that being said, it is still an issue that the average income of hourly workers has not improved over the years. It needs to be taken into consideration that the hourly workers need to be compensated more fairly, given the improvement in productivity.

    3. I think companies need to offer more to their employees to improve them and allow them better opportunities. As mentioned in the question, education and training, offered by the employer to the employee is an excellent opportunity that many would be excited to partake in. Additionally, offering a stipend for higher-education to improve the employee’s capability to be more fairly compensated. I think also in terms of productivity, employers can offer their employees some profit-sharing opportunities based on the performance of the company. If they are performing well with the company, they can receive additional compensation in the form of stocks. There are many other options employers can offer their employees so that they are more fairly compensated or to give them additional opportunity.

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    1. Hi David,

      I really enjoyed reading your stance on the questions that were given to us. I agree with a lot of the things that you said. I think one thing to note would be that while the hourly worker wage has pretty much stayed the same, everything around us has not. The cost of living has gone up dramatically and most people cannot live just based on one wage. Many people are working more than one job just to handle their lives and their debts. I myself, even though I have gotten a great paying job straight out of college, still have to work an hourly position part time just to make sure that I have enough to survive on. In regards to the companies offering more to their employees to improve them, I think that is an excellent point. One of the things that has been the talk of the town is the crippling student debt crisis. Most companies do not offer any help with their employees student loans and do not offer other opportunities for them either. I think that an employer offering a way to help an employee with student debt would be a great benefit as that employee receiving a higher education did help the company as a whole.

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    2. Hi David,
      Great Post! I agree with your opinion, especially the last part about the funds. Employers need to have the moral right to allow their employees to get more education and adopt the new technologies. On the other hand, the share opportunity is essential as well. The share opportunity will also allow employees to have more experiences and keep their interest in the job.
      Thank you,
      Cici Ouyang

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    3. Hi David, I enjoyed reading your response. These charts are definitely alarming, and based on the data, the trend will only increase moving forward. Those that are working and producing more should absolutely receive higher wages and bonuses, but that is simply not the case. Full-time can provide more benefits like you mentioned and showed in your article example, but there will always be those who work part-time and cannot qualify for these wages. I also agree that companies should allocate their budgets in new ways to provide more to their employees and create greater opportunities.

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    4. Hello David,

      I really enjoyed reading your post and I agree with a lot of your points. For instance, I agree that the wage-productivity graph demonstrates alarming data as wages are stagnant and cost of living keeps increasing this definitely poses a big issue in our society. This issue strips away basic living conditions to millions of Americans all throughout the country and is something that has to be fixed in the coming years if not I believe the income gap is going to keep increasing and living conditions are going to keep diminishing at astonishing levels. Thus, it is a problem that needs to be work on promptly.

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  2. 1. Overall, these two charts reflect our topic of automation affecting jobs. The “Prod-Wage” charts show that starting in 1980 the hourly compensation stayed at a similar range and did not get increase as much. However, the productivity line was kept increasing dramatically. The main reason causing this was due to automation. Machines can improve not only productivity but also increase accuracy. The other chart, “Prod-jobs,” shows that the job growth suddenly slowed in 2000. In my opinion, this is not only because of automation but also related to the economic crisis. Especially one could see the more significant gap between 2008.
    2. In my opinion, I do not agree that we are in the midst of a very different regime of automation than the ones we have known before. Technology is growing daily, and the new generations are being educated with more advanced knowledge. The automation gap that happens now is because of the lack of education with the blue collars. Blue collars did not have the educations back in due to historical reasons. The labor market was intense before automation.
    3. Future of work fund is an excellent idea for companies to establish. The company could use funds to give out training courses to their employees, so they can always adopt the new technology and not become the residuals from the era. As mentioned in the last answer, the automation gap with the blue collars was due to the lack of eductions. Companies and society should have such funds to support everyone learns at all times.

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    1. Hi Yongshi, great response and I enjoyed reading your take on the current regime of automation. Your points make a lot of sense, since technology has increased and advanced greatly for years. The time we are in is not much different in terms of the speed and growth of this technology, but rather the difference is what we know and have access to. I thought your explanation of the potential future work funds made a lot of sense, in giving out training courses to their employees at a business or company. It would be quite useful for people to adopt new tech advancements into their lives, rather than aging from their era. People should have the ability to learn any time they want, and learning within a job is a great way to accomplish this objective.

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    2. Hello Yongshi,

      After reading your post there was a point that caught my attention. The point being on the production-wages graph stating that the the graph is not only product of automation but also of the economic crisis. I disagree with this point as the economic crisis is not what has halted the raise of wages since the 1970s. The halt of minimum wages started with president Ronald Reagan influenced by economist Friedman backed by the false idea that has that minimum wage works against unskilled workers. I believe this is a political issue that stems back to Reagan and has not gotten better if anything it has gotten worse.

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  3. 1. I would argue that the lecture, coupled with the two charts provided, are disconcerting. The data presented in the charts clearly reflect there is a wage and employment issue in the country that has been growing for decades now. In the productivity and employment chart we can see that both items had been steadily growing together from the second half of the 20th century, but around 2000 we see a drastic change. From the turn of the century, productivity began to boom while employment had leveled off. The wage chart reflects a similar position, with productivity quickly rising but hourly compensation, which used to run aligned with production, has only gone up a little, and also remains flat for many periods of time. From these two charts it can be theorized that there is a growing employment issue in the country, and while productivity is reaching record levels the jobs available, and their accompanied salaries, have stalled to dangerous levels.

    2. The automation we are currently experiencing is much different than the automation created in the 20th century. The group earlier in the week utilized the automobile industry as an example of automation, where more productive machines could quickly replace the average factory worker. While this automation still exists, technology has changed and new industries have been formed with innovation, creating new forms of automation. Earlier in the week we discussed whether automation today favors the fortunate and rich, and I think it is safe to consider that the job market has changed. This change emphasized by the new automation available and hurting the working classes by making certain human position obsolete.

    3. The COVID-19 pandemic altered the job market, but also gave many people the confidence and opportunity to seek new positions, what I have seen called the “Great Resignation”. People are willing to take the risk to leave their roles in the hopes of finding something new and better, and many companies are providing richer employment benefits as to help secure staff amid shortages. At this point, I think a productivity dividend would be great for both employers and employees. A large cost for an employer is the time and resources it takes to train new staff, and when an employee leaves that is a massive loss of investment. These productivity dividends, such as tuition reimbursement, flexible scheduling, etc., can help attract and retain talent from the massive pool of workers currently available.

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    1. Hi Joseph, I thought you left a great detailed response here. I also agreed in that the gap between productivity output and wages is troubling, and that there is an evident employment issue in our country. Your points on the difference in automation also make a lot of sense. I have read points to support both sides of the argument, and there is definitely evidence for both aspects. I stated that in general, there has always been advancements in automation, but where we are now is different than where we were decades ago. Automation has clearly caused a change in job markets, and it can definitely be causing an issue to those who work in these fields.

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  4. After listening to the lecture, and going through the charts, there is definitely a worrying relationship between productivity and employment. With the first chart, we can see that productivity has been steadily increasing overtime with no signs of decreasing, but employment rates are not even close to meeting the rates of productivity. As stated in the top description of the first chart, we can observe a rise of GDP but not in median income. It is great to see the level of output is increasing, but when the jobs are becoming scarce or even non-existent, there is a glaring issue. With the second chart, between the late 1940ss and early 1970s, productivity and hourly compensation were almost equal at 96.7% and 91.3%, respectively. Between 1973 and 2014, these numbers changed greatly. Productivity dropped to approximately 72.2%, which although is still good, hourly compensation went to 9.2%, almost 10 times less than originally. This is extremely concerning, and could lead to further drop in employment, and ultimately less productivity if the employees become frustrated with their lack of compensation.

    I personally believe that we are not in a different regime of automation based on the ever-growing advancements in our world. Though, if we compare our current technology and machinery to what we have known before, it can be considered that we are, but only in terms of what is being learned and taught. As always, people are growing with technology. The technology of now is different than that of 50 years ago, when the growth of low wages began. Even so, people have learned to adapt and understand new forms of technology every day. There is a strong chance that jobs will continue to grow slowly, due to the replacement of human jobs with machinery. When looking at the big picture, though, these advancements in automation are not so different, as the technology has always been changing.

    A fund for needs such as education, training, and crisis response can definitely be a beneficial thing to implement. As jobs are replaced with technology, those who are too familiar with a set kind of work may not be able to go back and learn something new, again if their jobs are replaced. It would be helpful for them to have the ability for basic training and understanding of the growing technological advancements. Even just for basic needs, something like this could certainly be useful.

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    1. Hi Jared,
      I appreciated listening to your response. I agree with you on establishing a fund on education or training. By investing in their own employees, a company can reap significant benefits. Specifically with the improvements in technology, people can learn more about these technologies to obtain better, higher-paying roles. A specific personal example I can think of is when I worked in a factory setting with hourly workers and automated guided vehicles were brought into the factory. There were some individuals that took a very strong learning to the vehicles, excelled with them, and were able to obtain promotions.

      Great points,

      Thanks,
      Dave

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    2. Hi Jared,

      I really enjoyed reading your response to the discussion and what you took away from the lecture. I thought that the use of statistics in your first response really validated your answers to the other questions that you provided.I also like what you talked about in your last response when it came to job place training in the future to ensure that everyone has an equal opportunity to learn and be able to work with new technology.

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    3. I fundamentally agree with what you’ve discussed thus far. Imagine the people of the 80’s and backward in the midst of their own revolutions. How many like us pondered the “concerning” fate of jobs? Many even likely and did (see futurists) say that technological improvements spelled doom for the near future. Yet, here we are. As we both mentioned in the previous thread, education seems to be the answer. Yes, those who have not been educated to pivot into these growing fields will suffer, but this is the nature of things. I do not feel alarm or worry, especially akin to that of futurists and luddites.

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  5. I really enjoyed this lecture about the tale of two curves as it opens up a way for one to think critically about the issues presented in regards to the American economy during the past couple of decades. For instance, the first curve about the decoupling of productivity and employment portray serious concerns. As mentioned in the lecture digital technologies in recent years have increased automation and productivity which is reflected in the curve nevertheless this automation has also decreased the employment numbers as more jobs become obsolete due to automation. I believe that if we keep going at this pace myriads of people are going to be left behind due to their inability to adapt to technological changes. At this pace were are going to have titans and losers the titans being the people with money that keep cutting cot through automation and the losers which are the people losing their jobs, This phenomena also brings for the issue an income inequality as the rich keep getting rich and the poor keep getting poor which brings us to the next issue of productivity and wages. Since the 1970s there has been little to no increase in the minimum wage, nevertheless productivity has increased; this brings forth the core of capitalism: the accumulation of capital through cutting costs (low wage) which leaves people running a race that they will most likely not succeed in. As capitalism is based in the idea that if one works hard they will make it nevertheless that is a tale told by the elite to keep exploiting people through low wages; it is a lottery that they are not going to win. That has been demonstrated in recent years when the top one percent owns more wealth than 50 percent of the population combined. This shows the income inequality capitalism has raised and I strongly believe that if we keep going in this direction the outcome will just get worse thus I propose the solution to be a change in the system. We have to swift to a system in which people are not exploited for a minimum wage that does not cover basic living conditions.
    Moreover, I do agree that we are in a very different regime of automation than anyone we have seen before due to the increase in technological advancements and research. Moreover I do agree with the proposition of a productivity dividend as increasing wages seem like a far stretch in a capitalist economy. I believe that a Future of Work Fund is a good initiative as it would benefit millions of people through basic living conditions that they currently lack due to inequality.

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  6. The two graphs in the lecture are alarming but show graphically the impact artificial intelligence and automation have had. The first graph in yellow shows the data behind rising productivity and unemployment rates. As I mentioned in my initial post, there is a common misnomer that AI and automation will cause for job loss. Now this data seems relatively subject to me given that there many factors that could materially shift the unemployment rates that aren’t even related to job elimination due to productivity growth. Some of those being inflation and war, two very relevant terms in todays world, which I’m having a hard time connecting to the productivity curve. There are also certain economic factors that could impact a companies ability to hire works but continually drive productivity and innovation. Even though the data stops in 2013, so this graph is relatively old you’ll notice the widening gap towards the conclusion where unemployment is lower with continued rising productivity.

    I do really like the idea of a productivity dividend – an investment in our future where as a results of all the major cost savings for companies to operate through diving productivity upwards through open source, a payment goes out to all humanity as a result. While very far fetched, there are ways that could be implemented through tax credits, but they would have to figure out a way it’s non-discriminatory as well. Some folks don’t have access to the same means as others, although maybe with advancements in net neutrality, that would change as well. It’s interesting to see the common themes highlighted throughout all our learnings in this course!

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    1. Hi Christian,

      I enjoyed reading your response and I completely agree with your points. However, I would state that adding a productivity dividend might not actually be that far fetched in some countries. Several countries have implemented universal basic income and universal health insurance that allows for an individual’s basic needs to be met. Additionally, with many people working from home, several companies have given their employees additional bonuses and stipends that cover basic necessities including phone stipends, health stipends, and a WFH stipend with money that would have otherwise been used for office space.

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  7. 1) The overall lecture was a great lecture to listen to. In the “Prod-Wage” graph, it showed the hourly compensation line not increase as much but productivity kept increasing. I believe the main reason was the introduction of automation. The machines would increase productivity but obviously compensation would not need to be increased. In “Prod-Jobs” graph, productivity and employment are increasing through the years but there is a difference in the early 2000s. This is probably the real world events that might have occurred like the crisis of 2008.

    2) I agree that we are in the midst of a very different regime of automation that we have not known before. The man reason is because technology is improving and changing the world everyday. The younger generation will become familiar with the technology through education but a gap will be made between the old generation. Automation is being introduced in the work force and it requires advance education. It might take years for someone in the old generation to become familiar with the technology. Automation will be effective in the workforce but will kill jobs.

    3) I believe a Future of Work fund is a great idea. This can help with the older generation or anyone that needs training and help with accelerated responses for the new technology that is being introduced. This will help someone become more comfortable with the new technology and be able to perform basic human necessities.

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    1. Hi Anthony,

      I believe, since the start of the “dot com” era, technology has evolved at such a rate we could not have anticipated. With this growth has come new markets and products, as well as new levels of production that require a different type of workforce. It feels like certain careers are becoming obsolete with this new tech, which can lead to a larger gap between production and wages in the future.

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  8. 1. The lecture was very helpful and offered lots of insights and new information on the topics being talked about in our discussions. The charts that were shown in the lecture definitely show a cause for worry when it comes to productivity, employment and compensation. As we see throughout history there was a steady correlation between productivity and wages but that has drastically changed in recent years. I think that the increase in technology and automation in production is a main cause of the lack of job growth but there is absolutely no reason for the wage to be so staggered alongside that.
    2. I feel that where we are now is going to be very similar to where we continue to go in the future. The increase in automation has caused a loss in labor work and it doesn’t seem to be shifting in the other direction anytime soon. This is going to cause a change in training and education moving forward because the production process is way more technological and dynamic now. Hopefully as we adjust to automation moving forward we also use that to positively impact the number of jobs and compensation for those jobs,
    3. I think there should definitely be a fund to go into providing basic human necessities for future employees but it is also very important that we begin instituting this information at a young age to kids. Throughout their younger education it is very important that we prepare them for the real world and what it truly is not what it was or has been. By instituting a proper foundation for the next generations, we can ensure that their training and preparation for work in the future will be an easy transition. It is also imperative and should go without saying that we provide basic human necessities to all of those who are in the workforce at any level.

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    1. Hi Jake,

      I thought that you did a great job on your post. I agree that the charts raise for much concern. If this problem is not fixed soon, we are in for a major economic issue. Well, I should say a greater one because we are in the midst of one. The population is growing exponentially, and soon more and more teenagers will be entering into the work force. In fact, more will be entering than there are people retiring. Wages need to mimic the current productivity levels but also the cost of living. Inflation is currently at an all time high, and in some places, minimum wage is the same as it was 10 years ago. This will not be sustainable for much longer. The public is realizing that productivity is increasing with the advancements of technology, and that there is no longer a need for certain roles. This decrease in roles combined with the increase in workers and low wages is a recipe for disaster. The solution is a very complex one as no employer is willing to go back to old ways and replace technology with human workers.

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  9. I agree that the regime of automation is different than it was in earlier times. This is due to more and more innovative technological advancement happening in recent years example. AI, RPA and many other developments which are happening in all the industries/sectors. The slowing of job growth is reflected only due to increase in productivity due to technology but if job growth is seen in isolation, then the case would be different. Whenever we have an important economic question, it is unlikely that there will be only one explanation.” Globalization, high-tech automation, and labor-market concentration are probably all influencing wage stagnation and income inequality.

    Since 1970, the real wages of US production workers have stagnated, despite the rapid growth in output per worker. This apparent disconnect between labor productivity and real wages is most dramatic when real output per hour is contrasted with real average hourly wages since 1970. While real average hourly wages have stagnated, business sector output per hour has grown at 2 percent per year

    In a recent New York Times article, Eduardo Porter suggests that this gap has been growing for decades, claims it can be found in many other countries, and conjectures that automation that displaces middle-skilled jobs and “a harsh new global economy” may be responsible. But when the numbers are measured more comprehensively—when wages are broadly defined as compensation to include benefits, comparable price indexes are used to calculate differences in wage and output growth in constant dollars, and the output is measured net of depreciation—the puzzle of lagging wages disappears, at least for 1970–2000. While prior to 2000 blue-collar workers fared especially poorly, constant dollar labor compensation for all workers actually kept pace with output. When appropriately measured, from 1970 to 2000, and perhaps to as late as 2008, the growth in overall worker compensation was precisely as rapid as the growth in average labor productivity would imply. This suggests that the key to explaining sluggish long-run wage growth is understanding productivity growth rather than what drives the distribution of income between capital and labor. If there is something about the American economy that has kept workers from maintaining their share in output as the economy expands, this phenomenon has materialized only relatively recently.

    First, production and nonsupervisory workers do not constitute the full US labor force. Broader measures that include the wages of all workers show considerably more real wage growth—a reflection of the fact that the wages of more skilled and educated workers grew much more rapidly than blue-collar workers with less education.

    Second, workers are paid more than their take-home hourly wages. Their compensation also includes benefits such as health care and social security, which have increased faster than wages. A more complete measure of real earnings is real hourly compensation that takes all benefits into account. Especially prior to the mid 1990s, real average compensation per worker increased more rapidly than real wages.

    A third issue is that different price measures are used to estimate real output and real hourly compensation. The expectation that “real” wages will rise with “real” output per worker reflects the assumption that workers buy the goods and services they produce or that the price of their output and their consumption will rise at the same rate. But these expectations are flawed. The mix of goods and services that workers produce—which is reflected in the business sector price deflator used to measure real output per worker—differs from the mix of goods and services that is reflected in the consumer price index. In particular, the prices of investment goods such as machinery that have risen slowly feature prominently in the business sector price deflator, while items such as the price of shelter that have risen rapidly feature prominently in the consumer price index. In fact, since the business sector deflator has risen more slowly than the consumer price index, if we deflate the rise in nominal hourly compensation by the business sector price deflator to estimate what would happen if workers actually bought the goods and services they produce—a measure sometimes called real product compensation—we find hourly compensation has actually increased at an annual rate of 1.7 percent per year.

    Measuring real product compensation shows that between 1970 and 2000 workers could have increased their purchases of the goods and services they produced at the same rate as the rise in output per worker. This suggests that the decline in labor’s share in income only began in 2000.

    Fourth, the measure of output that is generally used to depict productivity is gross output and thus includes the consumption of capital. Especially in recent years, the use of shorter-lived capital has increased the share of depreciation in gross output; a better productivity measure is net output per hour that takes this depreciation into account. Net output per hour has been growing at 1.8 percent per year since 1970, somewhat slower than the pace of gross output per hour (2.0 percent). Comparing real product compensation with net output per hour gives us the relationship between productivity and labor compensation that is relevant for measuring income shares.

    Figure shows net output per hour and hourly real product compensation, with the difference between them driving labor’s share in net income. Between 1970 and 2003 the growth in hourly real product compensation matched the growth in hourly real net output per worker. In 2003, therefore, the share of net compensation paid to labor was the same as in 1970. If the rise in average net output per hour is a good measure of the marginal product of labor, for this 33-year period, the data are compatible with the assumption that workers have actually seen their wages rise as rapidly as their marginal product. Since labor’s share in income fluctuates over the business cycle, and was therefore unusually high in 2000 for cyclical reasons, we cannot be confident about dating when the decline in labor’s share in income began. But it is clear that labor’s share has been unusually low since 2008, and real wages and compensation for workers of all skill levels has been slow.

    The explanation for the sluggish rise in real wages over the long run—1970 through 2000—may lie not with something that weakened labor’s bargaining power but instead in changes in the relative prices of the goods and services that workers consume and those that they produce. In particular, in thinking about policies to raise middle-class incomes, we should be concerned about (a) the rising relative prices of goods and services that workers consume such as housing and education; (b) the rising costs of benefits, especially health care, and (c) the slow productivity growth in services as compared with the rapid productivity growth in investment goods. In the period after 2000, the declining share of labor (and rising share of profits) does warrant further explanation (in a recent working paper, I argue this growing gap reflects a particular type of technical change), but prior to that, simplistic comparisons of “real” output per worker and “real” wages are likely to lead analysts to draw the wrong conclusions.

    https://www.piie.com/blogs/realtime-economic-issues-watch/growing-gap-between-real-wages-and-labor-productivity

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    1. You make some excellent points with the description of how workers get compensated, and how when compensation was measured against productivity was found lacking due to the way it was calculated.

      To add to your point, In addition to making ‘productivity’ equivalent to average hourly income, using prices to measure ‘output’ also makes ‘productivity’ ambiguous. This seems odd at first. How can ‘productivity’ be ambiguous when income is always well-defined?

      The answer has to do with prices. We expect prices to play an important role in shaping income. Suppose I’m an apple farmer who sells the same number of apples each year. If the price of apples doubles, my income doubles. That’s how prices work. If ‘output’ is equivalent to income, it seems that my ‘output’ (of apples) has also doubled. But here economists protest. Your apparent change in ‘output’, they say, was caused by a change in price. To find the ‘true’ change in output, you need to hold prices constant. When you do, you’ll find that your ‘output’ remains the same.

      When we aggregate output using prices, these prices determine the relative weighting given to corn and potatoes. When this weighting changes, the measurement of ‘output’ changes.

      As a result, our measure of ‘output’ depends on the particular prices we choose to hold constant. This is a big problem. It means that standard measures of productivity are inherently ambiguous.

      Using prices to aggregate ‘output’ leads to bizarre problems. On the one hand, it causes ‘productivity’ to be equivalent to average hourly income. This means that any connection between ‘productivity’ and wages is circular. On the other hand, the same decision causes ‘productivity’ to be ambiguous. Our measure of ‘productivity’ depends on arbitrary choices about how to adjust for price change. As a result, productivity trends are riddled with uncertainty.

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  10. 1.The American economy faced multiple challenges and these views are explained using the two graphs. In the 1st graph, Covid kept jobs rate flattening curve while the Productivity rate increasing continuously during the period of 2008-2010. Loosing job opportunities in pandemic, made the employers to respond immediately with the technology for longer time to encourage the growth rate of productivity versus jobs. At the end, both productivity and Job rate kept continuous growth throughout for many centuries.
    In the 2nd graph, seen a quite opposite to the 1st graph from the last half of century until now with flattened wage curve rate to that of steady growth rate of productivity. In the early 1820’s both rates followed the startling gains similar to that of 1st graph. The multiple reasons for the flattened curve involved political crisis reflection, crisis of democracy, income inequalities, dis-satisfaction among people for not believing the objectives.

    2.Currently we are experiencing a different regime of automation unlike trends followed in history. we have to face new challenge of automation world that might leave people jobless and with increasing productivity. In the lecture, the wireless technology in 2006 made everything capturable and that computed big data in cloud, machine learning which evolved is a new automation. Especially the middle people limited educated class gets highly impacted by the new technology and only there are part of jobs left for rich people who are well educated with automation tools and connected to technology in the future.

    3.Yes, the funds raised by the automation technology should be saved under funds for society. If the chances of high percentage of automation jobs like today requires more machines replacing humans in the future lessening the human workspace. those funds can be used to meet basic human needs like education and healthcare. In order to reach the wage growth, the funds can also be used to create new work structure environment in pandemic in order to expand the job opportunities for the common people.

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    1. Hi Madhavi,

      I totally agree with your post, thanks for sharing. Automation is creating real problems for the middle class workers and similar wages. Organizations can save money by automating production and eliminating the costs of employees such as wages and benefits. In my post, I mentioned how cost effective it was for companies to pay one time for a piece of automated robotics that could run on an assembly line 24/7 vs the wages and benefits of a handful of assembly line workers. We are also living in a world today where costs for living are going up all around us to recoup for losses during the peak of the pandemic. With wages being stagnant, it will be harder for middle to lower class workers to afford basic necessities let alone luxuries.

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    2. Hi Madhavi,
      I am conflicted about the existence of a fund for society. if the government would control such fun the chances of it being misappropriated are rather great. The only solution would be a private fund, but how would it be administered? The differences between industries are too great to have a unified fund. And if multiple funds exist between industries without being regulated then human greed can play a factor on how they are distributed. I expressed in a different post that i believe that handouts are detrimental to the overall society.

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  11. 1. My reaction to the lecture and graphs is that there is a clear growing disparity between worker quality of life and productivity. In the first graph, we see a widening gap between the U.S. productivity and employment, with productivity increasing and employment decreasing. This is a very concerning trend as we see organizations are maintaining productive output but their employees are not seeing their opportunities get better as a result. In many ways, automation plays a factor in this trend as robotics and AI can replace human work. Companies can also save money in this way while increasing output. In the second graph, we continue to see productivity increase but wages of workers level off after the 1970s. This trend is even more troublesome because wages of workers have not been increasing since as far back as the mid 1970s, over 50 years ago . This data justifies the belief that compensation for workers in the U.S. have not been substantial for a majority of the workforce, especially as it relates to liveable wages. There is a strong belief that the middle class is a dying social class due to the flattened wage curve. Owning a home or having a single income household were common things for workers raising families into the 1970s. The increasing gap between wage and productivity is forcing families today to reside in apartments or townhouses with dual incomes.

    2. I would not say the gap between productivity and wages are a result of new automation, but I certainly believe the introduction of automation is a major factor. Organizations in mass production can eliminate costs through automation. For example, let’s say a robotic assembly line can replace 50 workers. The organization may pay for expensive machinery equipment, but they will save in wages, benefits, social security, etc for the 50 employees removed. Those 50 jobs can be reduced to a handful of line mechanics responsible for maintaining and repairing the assembly line. In addition, the company can likely produce twice as many goods (at the least) by using automation. Outside of machine repair, an automated assembly line does not fatigue, get sick, or require time off compared to humans. An automated line can work 24/7 if the need fit. Companies with this level of implementation of automation are able to drastically increase their productivity but we obviously don’t see wages increase as a result.

    3. I would agree that some kind of dividend needs to be implemented if the gap between wages and productivity are not reduced. Especially for Millennials and Generation Z, the cost of living independently appears to be much more expensive than previous generations. As mentioned before, owning a home and living in a single income household were much more common in the late 1900s than they are today. Some kind of source that can help alleviate the financial burden of schooling or basic human needs like food or medicine would be a good start. This is all assumed under the idea that companies would not increase wages for workers. I personally think the money made through automated productivity is a topic where companies should look inward and determine if they can increase wages for their employees. With increases to costs of living, this is ever more necessary to prevent a worsening gap between wages and productivity.

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    1. Hi Tom,
      You make some good points. i especially agree with disparity between productivity and wage growth. It clearly shows priorities for corporates. However i have concerns about a dividend for workers. This is similar to the current unemployment benefit increase we have in the past 2 years. While it was life saving for many families small businesses were having tremendous difficulties finding workers. The math was simple. If a worker made more staying home from unemployment why would they need to work?

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    2. Hi Tom,

      I enjoyed reading your points, but in regards to Question 2, I respectfully disagree. I agree with your point that automation is not the only factor causing the gap between productivity and income. However, I do not think within the last 50 years we have seen this rate of automation or the advancements in technology. That is a major factor when it comes to the increases of productivity is the availability of the technology we have. I think the Professor made a great point where we will not be moving backwards, only forwards.

      Thank you,
      Natalie

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    3. HI Tom,

      Great Post! I liked reading your first question. I believe that the middle class is a dying social class due to the flattened wage curve. I agree with you that owning a home or having a single income household were common things for workers raising families into the 1970s. Most both parents have to work now a days and are still struggling to get by. I think that this will only continue to increase with the gap between wage and productivity. it will be interesting to see what the future will hold.

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  12. 1.First, your overall reaction to the lecture – – most especially to the two curves and what you read from it.

    The first chart draws a gloom picture for the future. The rise in productivity while the employment remains stagnant shows that innovations in technology will continue to take jobs away as the innovation reduce the need for human labor.
    The second chart shows a disproportionate increase in compensation in comparison to productivity. While innovation has enabled companies to become more and more profitable, those additional profits are not distributed among the labor force.

    2. History, it seems, is an unreliable analytical companion in the current moment. Given 50 years of low wage growth in spite of dramatic gains in productivity and more recent trends of slowing job growth is it possible that we are in the midst of a very different regime of automation than the ones we have known before.

    The previous charts clearly indicate a future that is more automated and where the blue-collar jobs are replaced by robots. Our need for productivity is making this change even more urgent. However, the dilemma of high unemployment paired with greater investments in automation is creating a crisis in the current workforce hence the recent increase in unionization across the industries.
    In contrast we do live in a capitalist society where corporates are responsible to generate the most profitability for the shareholders. And because corporates do not have any affiliation except to their board and shareholders the need to share the profits with the working force is of a low priority.

    3. Given such dramatic rise in productivity and the absolute stagnation of wages for half a century should we consider a productivity dividend – – say a Future Of Work Fund — that can be used for meeting basic human necessities, education and training and accelerated responses to the ecological crisis etc.?

    While the idea of a Future Work Fund is a novel idea, I do not see how it would work across the industries. Because of the drastic differences across different industries determining the compensation would be nearly impossible. Also, you those industries that are more affected by the change then others (factory worker vs. software engineer). The only way to have this idea function government intervention would be necessary. While the government does have the power to levy new taxes the corporate lobby is highly effective and would stop such movement at inception. I think in another 100 year this idea would eventually became necessary due to extreme automation, I am a firm believer that money earned is always more valuable then money given.

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    1. Hi Ervis,

      I believe a “Future of Work Fund” can work towards a point. A lot of companies today already offer benefits such as tuition reimbursement, but require employees to remain on staff for a certain period of time after to secure a return on their investment. A future of work fund is a similar idea, albeit a bit more extreme with richer benefits for staff. I think we may be closer to more companies adopting these policies than we think.

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    2. Hi Ervis,

      I enjoyed reading your post. Your answer to question 3 was very interesting to me. when i answered this question i looked at it from only a white collar side and not a blue collar side as well. You looked form both sides which really made me think. I said that companies could compensate employees for college however many blue collar works often do not go to college. While this may not work for both sides I felt that the employer would need to find what is suitable for their employees overall. Productivity dividend could work is thought out and used correctly.

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  13. 1. After listening to this week’s lecture and observing the curves, my initial reactions are that it is eye-opening but at the same time I was not surprised. I think it is safe to say within the past 10-15 years, in the United States, the wealthy have been getting wealthier and the middle class has been declining. I was surprised to see how similar the curves were, the gradual increase with smaller gaps in between each relationship and then the flatline in the 2000s with larger gaps in between the relationships. They both tell a similar story. As productivity increased and advanced over the decades, job growth and the hourly wage have flatlined within the 2000s.

    2. I do believe we are in a different regime of automation than the ones we have known before. The technology and resources we have today led to great inventions in the current moment. As stated in the lecture, the technology we have today and the future anticipated advancements will lead us towards continued growth, we will not go back to the old ways of working. In previous material, one reason that could impact job growth is the availability of good education and the pursuit of higher education. We could expect more jobs to be available in the future, but what education level would they require? I think it is a high possibility that the level of education required to have these jobs will be higher.

    3. My initial thought on a Future of Work Fund is yes, it should be considered. Every person worldwide, not only in the United States, should have the funds for basic human necessities, education, and training for continued growth. However, I think it could be difficult to quantify. When we went through the COVID crisis, if you made under a certain threshold of income, then you would receive a stimulus check for support. Would the wage be the main driver of a productivity dividend? Would it be fields where only strong productivity shows or that has high technological support? What happens to the fields that are more involved with human interaction such as teachers? Then I think it is also important to consider the wages of the super managers. Do their incomes justify their productivity? Should some of their salary be dispersed to others within the company?

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  14. 1. After reading the lecture and looking at the two curves, I was simultaneously astounded yet unsurprised. The two charts outlined the trend between productivity and employment as well as the trend between productivity and wage, respectively. In the first chart, we saw that there were small gaps between productivity and employment seen prior to the year 2000; however, it was starting in the year 2000 that job growth actually slowed down whereas productivity skyrocketed upwards. In the second chart, we saw that between 1948 and 1973, productivity and hourly compensation increased by 96.7% and 91.3% respectively. In between 1973 and 2014, productivity and hourly compensation increased by 72.2% and 9.2%, respectively. Seeing that hourly compensation remained relatively the same over the span of 40 years was quite alarming, especially since the cost of living has gone up significantly. Every week, especially for the past few years, I have been seeing articles on how most millennials and Gen-Z are no longer able to afford to purchase homes, ultimately rendering the American dream of owning a home significantly more difficult due to inflation and the increased cost of living.

    2. I don’t think that we are in the midst of a different regime of automation than the ones that we have known before. The purpose of automation has always been to make people’s lives easier and to decrease costs through some level of standardization. When automation was first introduced in the mid to late 1900s, industries and their workers had to adjust accordingly. In a similar fashion, industries and slowly, the rest of the world will have to adjust to the automation that we are undergoing. However, I do believe that there is one key aspect of the automation that we are undergoing that is quite different from before. The work place was the only aspect that was initially automated whereas in today’s current situation, automation is happening on multiple forefronts. This means that we will have to adjust even more quickly than in the past. Once people get adjusted to the new and more automated normal and get past the learning curve, industries will require people to work alongside automated machines and the job market will start to grow more rapidly.

    3. I absolutely believe that implementing a productivity dividend would be highly beneficial. The stimulus checks that were distributed earlier on during the COVID-19 pandemic helped many people pay off their debts and afford to meet basic human necessities that they otherwise would have not been able to meet due to the continuously rising costs of living. As automation continues to evolve and dominate all industries, many manual labor jobs will be replaced leaving many people without a source of income to meet their basic needs. Providing this kind of fund, particularly for education and training, would allow these individuals to adapt to the changing job market and become competitive applicants.

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    1. Hey Charu,

      Very well thought out response. I agree with your assessment in Question 3 that we need a productivity dividend or some type of plan to accommodate these displaced workers from the rise of automation and technology in the business environment. While I suggested mandatory training programs and large reinvestment into the public education by the federal government, I like your ideas as well.

      By providing money supplemented to employees for their productivity rates on top of their traditional salaries, we might be able to combat the spread of wealth inequality and the rising unemployment rates from workers being displaced by automation. This is similar to the New Deal proposed by President FDR or the American Recovery Act proposed by President Barrack Obama, both forms of legislation signed by Democratic presidents to help the United States economy recover by targeting the most vulnerable areas.

      In this proposal, I like how you understand that automation is not a trend or movement that can be delayed rather it is an inevitability that it will come to replace a lot of domestic jobs in the United States. Examples of this include minimum age cashiers at McDonalds and Wendys being replaced by touchpad monitors in order to increase efficiency rates, reduce human error and provide a lower cost to the fast-food industry for labor.

      In summation, I see that we have good solution to worker displacement with this proposal of a production dividend; as it helps address the significant lack of security applicable to blue-collar positions being replaced by automated machines as technology increasingly plays a larger part in the role of the American economy.

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  15. 1) The Productivity vs Employment curve was interesting. The rapid growth in Productivity in 2000 can be attributed to achievements in automation technology. Because these gains are solely due to automation, I am not surprised the Employment curve remained stagnant. Companies were able to create more product using the same amount of manual labor as before. As the business moved forward, company leaders focused their attention on finding ways to reduce their labor and lean on automation even further. It results in greater profits as the company can reduce salaries, benefits, and potential workers comp claims.

    2) While the separation between Productivity and Employment has remained constant for over a decade, I believe the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a downward shift in both lines. Employment has certainly decreased, due to government-mandated shutdown of businesses as well as an incentivization for workers to stay on unemployment benefits. As a result, Productivity has dropped as well. We are seeing supply chain issues across the globe as companies try to find solutions to the labor issue. In anticipation of a continued labor shortage, businesses are taking the long-term strategy of investing in new automation. I don’t believe this mindset will change again in our lifetime.

    3) When discussing solutions to a possible ecological crisis, I can’t help but think of Universal Basic Income, especially if the Productivity vs Employment curve remains a long-term trend. This is a government program in which “every adult citizen receives a set amount of money regularly, regardless of need.” While this obviously isn’t the ideal scenario (it certainly won’t incentivize people to work), there is a level of concern that many workers won’t be able to adapt to the automation economy, and the “gap” would simply be too great. Again, it all boils down to education. If productivity dividends could be used to train/educate displaced workers, we may stand a chance.

    https://www.investopedia.com/terms/b/basic-income.asp

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    1. Hi Joseph,

      Excellent post! I especially agree with your response in Question 2. The fact that there have been many global events such as World War 2 and the global COVID-19 pandemic that have contributed to the fluctuating rates of worker productivity and employment rates in the United States.

      For one, way beck in World War 2 there was an increased technological and domestic manufacturing boom that was created in order to fuel the Allied advance on both the European and Asian fronts of the war. Many men and women who were out of work during the Great Depression soon either joined the armed forces or domestic manufacturing force in order to contribute to the war effort abroad. This lead to both high productivity and high employment rates back in the early 1940s. Also, one should note that because there was a wartime boom of production and labor, this led to the United States being able to accommodate for higher wages to accompany these high employment and productivity rates at this time.

      Today, as the COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our economy and forced a lot of us to self-isolate, we now see a sharp decline in employment rates and productivity. Due to the lockdowns in early 2020 a lot of the United States economy shut down in-person operations and lost a lot of revenue. One couldn’t go watch baseball games in-person, go to the movies or restaurants, or even take a nice vacation abroad. With this in mind, we also saw a sharp increase in the use of technology to replace workers as most businesses had to operate from home. And while supply chains were halted worldwide many CEOs considered the possibility of utilizing more automation in their operations to avoid a complete shutdown in another type of extraordinary circumstance similar to this. It should also, be noted that because there was limited employment and productivity in the economy, this meant that there was virtually no productivity as well.

      In the end, I don’t see a stoppage of this current trend of automation becoming more popular in the workplace. Yes, there may be large economic and political events that shape our business environment and its relation with technology, however, I’ve noticed the common trend in much of this by big business has been one thing. And that’s the fact that all they care about is chasing profits through higher revenues and lower costs to produce raw products. By this, they usually resort to finding ways to cut costs in their operations in order to increase their bottom line. And that’s what I believe we will see in our modern society more and more going forward.

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  16. I agree with the assumptions generated by viewing the curves. That the technological revolution of the 70’s and onward has caused stagnation in wage increases and employment with an increase in production. I don’t know that social disruptions can be directly explained by these graphs. There’s certainly some correlation, but those disparities are part of larger public policy dilemmas.

    Additionally, in agreement with the graphs, the electric car share of the automobile market has been unpredictable. In 2020, it was estimated that it would be 5-10 years before their market share would increase from 2% to 8%. 6 months later, that estimate nearly tripled and hovered around nearly 30% in the same time. We are assessing not only the kind of new technology that will emerge, but also the willingness and ability of the market to adopt. I think this makes forecasting challenging as we can’t always accurately anticipate emerging technology reception. However, the infrastructure will surely take a significant amount of time to meet the threshold for rapid integrations. This is seen throughout the industry, as we know many companies still using T1s, PBX, and other wired connections for phones and the like. There are even carriers like Verizon that use deprecated software from early 2000. You will have to take me at my word for that, but if you have worked you know it is not far off the mark.

    Yes, this is likely a different kind of revolution, but not so different from those of the past. I think since we are in the middle it seems shocking and dissuading, but the result can still be positive. The sentiment of the past was just as negative and foreboding, yet we are still in a place of full employment. As many classmates have suggested, and as the lecture has pointed out, education will be a significant part of the answer. Even if there are isolated outliers where schools have not met the education technology needs of today, it does not mean many have not progressed. There have always been gaps between schools in their districts, counties, States, etc. This is a dilemma brought on by income disparities. However, accessibility is becoming easier. Students will have more access in lower socioeconomic areas.

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  17. 1. When looking at both curves, I definitely see a trend that increased innovation in technology has led to a sharp decline in employment. The reason is because computers and automated technology have been replacing humans at a fast rate in the 21st century. Additionally, this also explains why wages have been falling as well since a computer can do a job better than most humans can then it should be reasonable to expect that wages will fall as more and more workers are replaced by robots.

    To me, it’s a result of our changing infrastructure in the United States that has led to more and more workers being unemployed. Since the 1970s saw a rise in computer technology, we’ve now bore witness to more and more technology being used in our workplace environment. And slowly over time we’ve now seen technology push a lot of workers out of the workplace in favor of higher productivity rates, less human error and less of a cost to utilize machines to perform logical tasks.

    2. I do believe that we are in a different regime of automation in the 21st century. The reason is because we are seeing more and more employees get pushed out of work in favor of cheaper and more productive methods of finding labor. For instance, from the 1970s to the 1990s there was a large wave of outsourcing that swept across America’s manufacturing areas such as places like Pittsburgh, known for its steel mills, and other areas of the country known for the domestic production of resources and other materials. However, with the rise of international trade agreements like NAFTA, in which the United States, Canada, and Mexico agreed to work together in a trade-friendly agreement to benefit all three countries and an increased movement of large multinational companies outsourcing labor to China for cheaper costs, many of these domestic manufacturers in these Rust Belt cities lost significant swathes of employees.

    Today, we are seeing that other global events like the COVID-19 pandemic have led to an increased utilization of technology in our business environment in order to accommodate the needs of a socially-distanced and isolated society. With this in mind, we are now seeing more and more employers opt to forego the use of traditional workers in order to increase the productivity rates of their business during these trying times as well as a slew of other reasons. These other reasons being to avoid the costs of worker unionization as well as having to pay for large worker benefits.

    3. I agree that we need a Future off Work Fund in order to ensure that those displaced by the technological revolution of the 21st century are not contributing to future cyclical downturns in the U.S. economy. What I would recommend for this would be increased investments in public education and work training programs in order to ensure that these workers have a place in the new technological workplace after being displaced.

    An additional benefit of this would be the fact that these blue collar workers would be paid more for their indispensable services in keeping the greater economy running efficiently as they work to help with repairs and technological issues with their automated machines.

    In the end, if we refuse to address this problem then we clearly cannot move forward as a society as there will be strong division among those who agree with the technological revolution of the 21st century and those who actively discourage it.

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  18. My first overall reaction to the lecture and especially to the two curves would be worrisome. The data shown in the charts with the curves presents that there is an employment and wages problem in the country. It can be seen in the productivity and employment chart that both had been growing together up until the 20th century, however around the year 2000 we can see a huge change. From this time forward productivity took off while employment had stayed the same. This can also be seen in wage chart productivity quickly rising but hourly compensation not keeping up like it has done in the past. From these charts it is easy to see that employment and wages are a problem in the country.

    It is possible that we are in the midst of a very different regime of automation than the ones we have known before. Our technology and automation today is much more advanced and practical when it comes to business. While some may see this as a bad thing due to the fact that many jobs are lost from it, I see it differently. While many jobs are lost, others are created. While machines are created to help, they may take jobs of humans but create new jobs like people who can fix these machines. I think that this is more of an evolution for the working class. Jobs change all the time and technology is made to help humans overall.

    Within the past couple of years the job market has been all over the place. Most jobs today are not set in stone and the pandemic definitely showed that. I think that the productivity dividend is a great idea and many companies have already started to implement some of the resources. With the pandemic many companies went remote from the office and allowed employees to stay this way. This allows for a more flexible schedule and is cheaper for the company and employee overall. Along with this, many companies will pay for further education like an MBA. Companies will pay for many to go back to school to help the employee which in turn helps the company. This is what I think of productivity dividends.

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    1. Hello Kyle,

      Great job with your post. I agree that the two charts are worrisome and is a big problem now and will remain a big problem for several years to come. I did however disagree that we are in a different regimen of automation. I only disagree because everything else such as tech is growing at the same rate automation grew at. I also loved what you said about productivity dividends and agree that the pandemic has shifted many industries in terms of a flexible work schedule. Overall great job with your post.

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  19. After observing the two curves, it is concerning to see the constant rise in productivity as employment options grow scarcer. In addition, it seems as time has gone by, the gap between productivity and hourly wage has increased significantly. The reason why this is concerning is because in some industries employees may start to want more pay which can lead to strikes and possibly a rise in unemployment.
    History provides data in which all we can do is compare and learn from in order to help with our future. Considering how technology has significantly grown since 50 years ago, it is safe to say that changes in automation are extremely similar to changes in technology. Even though jobs will grow at a slower rate as tech replaces many jobs, with everything in mind, it is my opinion that we are not in a new regimen of automation.
    A “Future of Work Fund” is definitely a program which can be useful. Especially in the fields mentioned such as education, training, and accelerated responses to ecological crisis. Especially for employees who are not as adaptive, it would be beneficial to keep them up to date with new technologies and methods. This will help employees not get outgrown by their work fields.

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  20. 1. First, your overall reaction to the lecture – – most especially to the two curves and what you read from it.

    In my perspective lecture was really beneficial, providing numerous insights and new knowledge on the themes discussed through the graphs. Coming to productivity, employment, and wages, the charts displayed within lectures are certainly indicative of a problem. Throughout history, there’s been a consistent association between production and earnings, but this has altered dramatically in recent years. I believe that the increase in technology and automation in manufacturing is a major factor in the lack of employment creation, but there is no justification for wages to be so contrasting.

    2. History, it seems, is an unreliable analytical companion in the current moment. Given 50 years of low-wage growth in spite of dramatic gains in productivity and more recent trends of slowing job growth is it possible that we are in the midst of a very different regime of automation than the ones we have known before.

    Employment activities have declined as a result of technological advancement, and this trend does not look to be changing anytime soon. Because the industrial process has grown significantly more modern and dynamic, there’ll be a change for upcoming skills and retraining. However, as technology advances, there is indeed a rising need for humans to study and imply it. As we adjust to automation, we Endeavour to use this to improve the number of jobs and income.

    3. Given such a dramatic rise in productivity and the absolute stagnation of wages for half a century should we consider a productivity dividend – – say a Future Of Work Fund — that can be used for meeting basic human necessities, education and training, and accelerated responses to the ecological crisis, etc.?

    Yes, the revenues generated by automation technologies should be set aside for societal purposes like Healthcare and Education. If the likelihood of a large percentage of automation would keep increasing and will demand more robots to replace humans in the future, which impact the workspace of humans to be reduced. To promote income growth, funding could also be used to build new work structures in pandemics, hence increasing career opportunities for the public at large.

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