Technology and Unemployment

Every technological boom brings with it a shift in the need for services and, subsequently, jobs. That means that the position you have spent your life, or at least a few years, preparing for may become obsolete. Does technology cause unemployment? It’s a bit more complicated than that.


As we are progressing, more and more jobs that rely on physical labor are going to the robots. Robots are in charge of sorting our products, assembling them, removing faulty units, expeditiously packing shipments, and so on. These used to be done by people, but the efficiency of properly calibrated machines made their positions no longer needed.

Many people lose their jobs in factories every time there is a new robot that is able to take care of physical tasks. However, there are also new positions in the maintenance of said robots, as well as additional profits for the company that may use them to expand in different markets or locations.

Automation as such does not cause unemployment. What it does,  however, is change what we need and people have to adjust to the new way of doing things. If the products and services are provided with bigger efficiency, they also make more money, which makes the company able to grow or provide its products and services for a smaller price, again increasing their income.

So, We Lose Our Jobs?

Sometimes, but it is not the fault of technology. There are several different factors that make the job market what it is. Most of all, it’s labor cost and worker’s rights. Companies that can afford to implement technological advances don’t need to pay for menial labor unless it is cheaper than implementing technological solutions.

This is why many companies turn to outsourcing or hiring people as independent contractors, rather than full-time employees. The companies cut corners and save money on all the things they are, by law, required to provide to their employees. They look for the labor of the same skill level that they can pay less. Unemployment is related more to the economy than technology.

But Isn’t Technology Making Outsourcing Possible?

That is a good point. Without the internet, we would not be able to hire people from other countries for things like customer support, website design, tutoring, and more. However, all of this would be a moot point if the companies would treat their employees as human beings that are a part of their local economy and not a resource that is too expensive to use. For example, at the time of writing, many people in the US are demanding the minimum wage be $15 per hour. Given the inflation over the last 50 years and the prices of housing and basic necessities, it should be even higher. However, the free market would never pay $15 for a service where $2-3 would do the trick.

What’s That Have to Do With Anything?

A lot. Technology does make the changes and jobs obsolete, but that is only a small part of the equation. Technology is a tool and nothing more. Sure, modern technology is a wondrous tool that is akin to magic at this point, but it is still a tool. Like all tools, it is a matter of how you use it.

Instead of leaving their employees high and dry whenever there is a technological advancement, many companies appreciate the loyalty of their workers and offer them reeducation programs where they can still be employed in new positions. That is an example of why it is not the fault of technology, but the responsibility of the company to deal with employment shifts whenever there is a technological breakthrough.