Automation Is a Job Engine

Interesting findings from James Bessen, a researcher at the Boston University School of Law. The more you automate your industry, the more jobs it creates.

Automated teller machines, Mr. Bessen writes, were widely adopted in banks starting in the 1990s and were pervasive by 2005. Yet since 2000, he notes, the number of bank tellers increased 2 percent a year, “substantially faster than the entire labor force.” What happened, he explains, is that ATM machines reduced the cost of operating bank branches. So banks greatly expanded their branch networks, with increased demand more than offsetting the jobs displaced by technology.

The “gotcha” of the study (if there is one) is that job growth requires change.

But something else occurred as well. Tellers were no longer handling cash, but engaged in offering personal advice and selling new services to customers. “The nature of the occupation is changing,” Mr. Bessen said.

Automation Is a Job Engine, New Research Says

As machines take on more and more of the rote, mundane tasks in our day-to-day lives, it’s good to know that our prospects for employment aren’t fading away.

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