Henry Hazlitt said:
The art of economics consists in looking not merely at the immediate but at the longer effects of any act or policy; it consists of tracing the consequences of that policy not merely for one group but for all groups.
The drumbeat gets louder daily about Amazon crushing retailers, and it is no doubt true. People love the convenience of a click and two days later, the item is on our doorstep. So retail jobs are going away. But does that make us worse off? We’ve had economic Luddites worry about technology killing jobs forever, and yet the economy is continually transforming and creating new jobs. So if the retailing jobs are going away, what is replacing them? According to this piece reported in the NYT today–and this is no shock–the delivery and distribution systems necessary for online retailers like Amazon are growing faster, and offering positions with better pay than those jobs they’re replacing.
Economist Michael Mandel
has combed through the job statistics on a county-by-county basis and come to this counterintuitive view: From December 2007 to May 2017, by his count, the e-commerce industry has created 397,000 jobs in the United States, and this compares with the loss of 76,000 jobs in the traditional retail industry. And those jobs related to e-commerce, he says, pay about 30 percent more than the brick-and-mortar ones.
Now don’t be a worryin’ about the coming robot revolution taking your job. You’ll get to make the robot. And service the robot. And design the new robot. And you’ll make better pay. There is always another side to look at, and economic history has shown that it is a better side that’s coming.
EDIT Update: On point, I just saw this link from Diedre McCloskey, who also suggests we don’t fear the robots. HT to Cafe Hayek