While Washington obsesses about what high-thirties number will be our top tax rate come January 1, I worry about what jobs will be available come the next few decades and what incomes they will provide. Our American prescription for success — get more education than your parents — may not work anymore.
From “Robots And Robber Barons,” Paul Krugman, NYT:
[T]he wage gap between workers with a college education and those without, which grew a lot in the 1980s and early 1990s, hasn’t changed much since then. Indeed, recent college graduates had stagnant incomes even before the financial crisis struck. Increasingly, profits have been rising at the expense of workers in general, including workers with the skills that were supposed to lead to success in today’s economy.
“[T[here are two plausible explanations, both of which could be true to some extent. One is that technology has taken a turn that places labor at a disadvantage; the other is that we’re looking at the effects of a sharp increase in monopoly power. Think of these two stories as emphasizing robots on one side, robber barons on the other.
[M]any of the jobs being displaced [by robots] are high-skill and high-wage; the downside of technology isn’t limited to menial workers.
What about robber barons? … [I]ncreasing business concentration could be an important factor in stagnating demand for labor, as corporations use their growing monopoly power to raise prices without passing the gains on to their employees.” Emphasis added.
We may be heading for a jobs cliff much scarier than the fiscal cliff.