- According to a report by Oxford Economics, one industrial robot replaces on average 1.3 workers in the first year after installation and 1.6 workers in the following years as they are deployed more efficiently.
- As the number of robots in use worldwide has multiplied threefold over the last 20 years to 2.25m and is estimated to reach as many as 20m by 2030, the global manufacturing workforce is expected to shrink by up to -8.5% (20m jobs) by 2030.
- Approximately every third of the world’s robots is installed in China. As a result, the country has seen the greatest decline in its manufacturing workforce since 2000, with 550,000 people displaced as of 2016.
Analysis and Comments
- The disruption caused by automation/robots is always a controversial topic with some experts focussing on the advantage of having mundane work automated so workers can focus on “higher-value work”, while others – such as Oxford Economics – focus on the link between automation and worker displacement.
- As the report – alongside other studies – shows, the impact is highly regional, with lower-income regions more at risk as robots tend to displace nearly twice as many jobs there compared with higher-income regions. This is not due to the relative size of the manufacturing sector, but due to structural differences in the composition of employment (e.g. skill level and productivity).
- Despite the fact that many studies, including the above, find that the value created by robots across the economy more than offsets their disruptive impact on employment, these regional differences offer important social and political implications for policymakers who need to ensure regional inequalities are not further exacerbated
Taking this into account, how is it possible to imagine one day a "minimum living wage" for people not skilled enough to find a job?
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