1. Trends & External Forces

Employers Turn To Automation To Solve Labor Crunch

The Washington Post reports on how employers around the US, trying to do business at a time when there are 8.2 million fewer workers than before the pandemic, are turning to automation to do the jobs that people used to do, at higher levels of productivity.

According to the story, “Greater productivity is the rare silver lining to emerge from the crucible of COVID-19. The health crisis forced executives to innovate, often by accelerating the introduction of industrial robots, advanced software, and artificial intelligence that reduced their dependence upon workers who might get sick.

“Even as millions of Americans remain jobless, retailers, food processors, energy producers, manufacturers, and railroads all are stepping up their use of machines … Greater automation helped US companies navigate the unprecedented disruption of the pandemic. Adjusted for inflation, US productivity has risen by almost 4 percent since the fourth quarter of 2019, nearly twice the increase in output-per-worker over the past five quarters, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.”

The Post writes that “three-quarters of companies surveyed by McKinsey Global Institute last fall said they expect investment in new technologies to accelerate through 2024. If that happens, productivity growth in countries such as the United States could rise by a full percentage point, boosting living standards and more than doubling pre-pandemic trends, according to a McKinsey study.”

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