The first time I was laid off from a job, I remember being overwhelmed by anxiety, fear, and disappointment. I think the hardest part was trying to maintain a professional demeanor as a ball of fire rose in my throat. I tried to blink as little as possible to hold back the tears I knew would follow. My voice cracked. I began shaking. It was a devastating experience.
According to a study in the Los Angele Times, one in five American workers were laid off in the past five years. If you walk down the street and count every fifth person you see, that person has more than likely felt the same feeling in their lifetime as I did the day I was laid off.
Nearly 40 percent of people said it took more than seven months to find employment and about one in five of laid-off workers said all they could find was a temporary position. Almost half — 46 percent — of the estimated 30 million layoff victims who found new jobs said they were paid less then at their old ones, according to a 2014 survey of 1,153 U.S adults.
Despite a declining overall unemployment rate, the study says, long-term joblessness has remained a major problem as the U.S. economy has slowly recovered from the recession, which (technically) ended June 2009. My worry is that even if a thousand businesses were to miraculously open tomorrow, the need for human labor is drastically declining as technological advancements continue to sweep our nation.
The term technological unemployment refers to the loss of jobs created by technological change. Such change typically includes the introduction of labor-saving machines or more efficient processes. Businesses are going digital, and robots are taking over factories, literally! Jobs in industries such as banking, construction, and medicine are declining, as is demand for physical labor. Companies are looking to sell more products with less employees to keep up with the competition.
On the other hand, employment opportunities are surging for skills complementary to new technology — for instance, IT workers, and people trained in digital marketing and engineering-related disciplines. Technology is benefitting those with greater analytical, problem-solving and creative skills. Yay for computer nerds and digital artists, but in the year 2060, do you want your life in the hands of robo-nurse, or Sally, the human nurse?