Automation Displacement and Trade Work

Like many business owners, I am constantly in search of good employees. Running parallel to this challenge is high unemployment and a narrative that there are not enough good jobs to be found.

A working paper titled ‘Tasks, Automation, And the Rise in US Wage Inequality’ published by the National Bureau of Economic Research, dated June of 2021, concluded that “between 50% and 70% of changes in the US wage structure over the last four decades are accounted for by the relative wage declines of worker groups specialized in routine tasks in industries experiencing rapid automation”.

As an example, industrial production for primary metals between 1990-2018 remained relatively constant (with a dip during the great recession and rebound after); yet employment in this industry was down 42% during the same period. Productivity gains through technology now mean that it takes far fewer people to produce the same aluminum and steel output of past decades.

While employers need people to fill open jobs, and there are plenty of unemployed, there is a mismatch in skills and education. Positions that perform routine repetitive tasks are being replaced by robots or automation. Often, the unemployed are not candidates for the job openings to design, program, or service the robots that replaced them.

While it is impossible to know for sure what jobs will (and will not) be displaced in the future, it is a good bet that routine jobs with high repetition and requiring low critical analysis skills will be the first to go.

At this point I will get a plug in for the skilled trade professions. Do you, or somebody you know or love, like to work with their hands? Are you/they mechanically inclined, and not scared of hard (and at times dirty) work? If so, there is an aging generation of skilled tradesmen heading over the horizon, and far fewer coming up through the ranks to fill their shoes.

This means ample employment opportunity and a good variety of work; including residential, commercial, new construction, home improvement and repairs. Carpenters, plumbers, electricians, mechanical contractors and more all have hiring needs today, and project industry staffing shortfalls into the future. All trades have career tracks for leadership and management; and automation is not yet in sight.

If you are considering, or reconsidering, how you would like to earn your living, give the skilled trades a look. Loose your preconceptions and honestly evaluate what they have to offer, and whether one of the trades may be a fit for your future. This could be the opportunity you are looking for, and someday you could be a business owner looking for good employees.

If you already have carpentry, drywall and general home improvement skills and are interested in working for one of the most highly rated companies in greater Jacksonville, them consider working for Mr. Handyman. Open positions can be reviewed, and applications accepted, at Simply scroll down and enter a zip code (here in Jax, or someplace you are interested in working) to see what openings exist.