Automated takeover: Is it affecting productivity?

Luis Almeida
Posted 9/18/17

In any capitalist society, productivity is an important variable for calculating a country’s Gross National Product.

Productivity is a function of an economy’s output over the total number of …

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Automated takeover: Is it affecting productivity?


In any capitalist society, productivity is an important variable for calculating a country’s Gross National Product.

Productivity is a function of an economy’s output over the total number of hours worked by labor. One could argue that by automating the workforce, productivity would decrease as less workers would then be working to complete a job task. What we are seeing today, however, is that the more technology we infuse in any industry, the more productive that industry becomes and the less compensation workers tend to receive.

The uncontrolled infusion of technology in our society has changed the rules of how many hours a day we have to work and how much money we bring home each month to feed our families.

Let me say the former differently. Automation has had a direct impact on why you have to work longer hours a week to make ends meet and don't often get an increase in salary each year to account for inflation.

In the past 50 years, automation has taken millions of blue-collar jobs away from Americans. Automation is now invading white-collar job territory. Automation has also been responsible for the decline in workers’ overall disposable income levels in both white- and blue-collar jobs which in itself has had a devastating impact to our local economies.

Do you remember when you used to go to work, be there for eight hours each day for five days a week, have dinner with your family, and enjoy buying small gifts for your friends from a small business owner without a credit card? Today, I bet that most of you can’t do that anymore, yet technology advancements reached record highs! No wonder why running a profitable business in small communities these days is so tough.

Most small business owners struggle to make ends meet because of the uncontrolled technological advancements that were infused in their local systems, such as the overall access to the internet.

Innovative systems have taken away a substantial amount of our community’s good solid jobs and left us with low-wage, unskilled, vulnerable ones. How can anyone buy the products and services that we offer when most people’s income is spent on daily living necessities?

Well, if you own a food franchise you may be immune to the impacts of automation and are probably benefiting from these technological advancements. For the rest of us, life has been very rough.

Most economists agree that productivity only measures how much an enterprise produces not what it could produce over time. Productivity should be impacted by demand at least in theory. If demand is low, then by logic worker productivity should be low.

Let me say the former differently: If less people are capable of buying your products and services, then businesses should produce less, not more, and employees should work less for sure. We have seen evidence of decreased productivity on the part of small business owners. We haven’t seen the former happening to big businesses, though.

Think about it. Why should any firm produce more goods or offer more services if there are less clients buying what they produce? Productivity should decrease, right? Therefore, consumer demand should dictate company output.

In reality, though, the former doesn’t always work that way. Could it be that the aggressive automation agenda has forced many of us out of a job, and has deskilled our work operations over time, impacting the pool of people who can actually buy products and services to advance our economy? No wonder why car companies make more money financing their cars than by building them.

Automation is a reason for why you don’t feel that you are getting a break from this unstoppable work marathon.

I don't think we are going to stop being productive despite the fact that the demand for what we produce may not be there. Automation has deskilled our workforce maybe for the worse, if you depend on selling your labor for a living.

Automation has cut too many jobs. I am not seeing a corresponding amount of jobs created, especially in our local communities. Maybe we need to reconsider the uncontrolled automated agenda. It might be our only path to longterm sustainability.


(About the writer: Dr. Luis C. Almeida is an associate professor of communication at Lee University and TEDx speaker. He is the author of the book “Becoming a Brand: The Rise of Technomoderation,” and a devoted Christian. He can be reached via his website at


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