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Innovation Fact of the Week: Over Past 140 Years, Tech Created More Jobs Than It Destroyed

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Looking at job records in the United Kingdom dating back to 1871, researchers as Deloitte have concluded that new technology continually creates more jobs than it destroys. As new technologies are implemented, historical data shows, savings on consumer goods have increased people’s spending power, freeing them to purchase a larger and more diverse basket of goods and services. This demand creates new jobs in expanding industries.

While technology tends to shift jobs between industries, the net effect is that employment goes up. Moreover, the jobs created tend to be jobs in caring, creative, technology, and business sectors, while jobs destroyed are more likely to have been dangerous, dull, and reliant on muscle power. For example, from 1992 to 2014, the number of farmers, company secretaries, metal workers, and typists are all down by more than 50 percent, but the number of nurses has increased by 900 percent. Technology, the report concludes, is a “job-creating machine,” and though up to 35 percent of U.K. jobs are at risk of being automated in the next 20 years, history shows that fears of mass-unemployment are unfounded.

Read last week’s Innovation Fact of the Week.

 

Photo credit: Ralph Malan.

 

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About the author

Adams Nager is an economic policy analyst at ITIF. He researches and writes on innovation economics, manufacturing policy, and the importance of STEM education and high-skilled immigration. Nager holds an M.A. in political economy and public policy and a B.A. in economics, both from Washington University in St. Louis.