When people talk about the negative impact of technology on jobs, the impact of e-commerce on jobs at brick-and-mortar retailers is an often used example.
In reality, this is an incomplete analysis. While e-commerce does indeed reduce jobs at brick-and-mortar retailers, it creates even more jobs at warehouses. Specifically, when the jobs which e-commerce has created at warehouses and those that it has taken away at brick-and-mortar retailers are both taken into account, e-commerce has created 54,000 net jobs over the last year.
Partly due to AMZN:
UPS has added 100,000 jobs in past 16yrs
Ecommerce gains (warehouse workers) – brick/mortar losses = 54,000+ pic.twitter.com/Pc3sN2nPFd
— Josh Wolfe (@wolfejosh) August 1, 2017
This doesn’t mean that technology will always create jobs. This is just one example. For example, as warehouses become increasingly automated, eventually the aggregate impact of e-commerce on jobs will be net negative.
However, it’s a useful reminder that many analyses about the impact of technology on jobs are incomplete.
And when technology does indeed create a large net negative impact on jobs, then we’ll have the time to focus our energy on more creative endeavors. As John F. Kennedy said “If men have the talent to invent new machines that put men out of work, they have the talent to put those men back to work.”