Automation, immigration and low wages

Following on from other recent posts on the effect of automation and immigration on employment comes this Sydney Morning Herald article by Tony Featherstone – The white-collar jobs turning light blue. It goes further in criticising the over selling of tertiary education as a solution. Read the comments. The resentment of Australians towards immigrants, or more particularly the depressing effect they have on wages, is as pronounced as in New Zealand. Perhaps Australia will not last much longer as the land of milk and honey for many kiwis seeking much higher wages. Globalisation and neoliberal economic policies are having a great leveling effect, which in concert with automation, is generating a race to the bottom in more and more occupations.

I know what you’re thinking: it’s always been that way with young workers starting on lower salaries, working hard to climb the ladder, and eventually getting the big dollars. But it seems that some white-collar occupations require employees to work harder than ever, for much slower wage growth, and less prospect of big salaries in coming years.

This transformation in white-collar jobs is more pronounced than is widely realised.  Technology crunched many blue-collar jobs and led to a rapid rise in the casualiation of the workforce. Now it is having the same effect on a growing number of white-collar jobs.

This trend is just starting. The chronic, scandalous, oversupply of university graduates will flood the market with highly educated, highly indebted white-collar workers this decade, just as technology makes it possible to do away with more workers than ever, or use cheap offshore labour. The result: lower starting salaries, slower wages growth, and fewer prospects for promotion because firms will find it easier to replace dearer workers with cheaper young ones.

Casualisation, over qualification, low wages, high education debt, high property prices, growing unemployment…. a potent cocktail


One comment

  1. […] a point of mentioning the concerns I have expressed in other posts  (here) (here) (here) and (here) about the future effect on employment, the economy and society of AI and […]

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