President Trump paints the image that the greatest threat to American manufacturing jobs is Mexico, China, and global trade. Obama however, believes that the greatest danger to middle class jobs does not come from overseas, but from the growth of automation. To put this idea into perspective, there are almost 5 million less manufacturing jobs due to the addition of robots than there were in 2000. In contrast, around the years 1998-2012, China only took nearly 1 million jobs and Mexico only took 800,000. Furthermore, one study (Look at the image above) finds that 87% of the manufacturing job losses came from automation and better technology, whereas 13% came from trade. Of course, automation also creates jobs in that higher skilled workers need to manage the new technology. Despite that, I still believe job loss will be greater than the job gain.
This situation reminds me of the Industrial Revolution, in which new inventions, such as the steamboat and sewing machine, were created to maximize production and efficiency at the cost of manual laborers. Those inventions have provided convenience and benefit to modern society, but workers in the past faced similar woes to the current situation. Do you believe that the new automation bring more benefit than consequences in the future like the inventions of the Industrial Revolution? Where do you think the workers that lose their jobs will go?