View Structural unemployment
Structural unemployment is long-term and chronic unemployment arising from imbalances between the skills and other characteristics of workers in the market and the needs of employers. The most significant cause of structural unemployment may become automation and increasingly sophisticated computers that replace human workers.
Structural unemployment is caused by a mismatch between jobs offered by employers and potential workers. This may pertain to geographical location, skills, and many other factors. For example, in the late 1990s there was a tech bubble, creating demand for computer specialists. In 2000-2001 this bubble collapsed. A housing bubble soon formed, creating demand for real estate workers, and many computer workers had to retrain to find employment.
Structural unemployment is usually a result of structural change, and as such it can be permanent unless structural changes are made.
As robots and AI become increasingly adept at performing tasks that once required a human, the need for human labor will be drastically reduced. After a Singularity this problem would likey be far more pronounced.
IEET Fellow Marshall Brain spoke on his projections of widespread structural unemployment as a result of automation, and the need for a Basic income guarantee, at the Singularity Summit in San Jose, CA on October 25th, 2008.
Market fundamentalists do not accept the possibility that the Singularity could result in anything but a global catastrophe or a utopia, believing that the forces of the free market will create jobs for humans, even when there are artificial intelligences that are far better suited for performing them.
Alternatively, technoprogressives want to adapt our economies to this new social structure and implement policies such as a basic income guarantee and Universal health care. From the technoprogressive perspective, less need for work should not lead to economic devastation, but should rather allow opportunities for the pursuit of more leisure activities and the development of Flourishing personality.
Social philosopher and economist Andr Gorz argues that structural unemployment could be permanent and that a basic income could be a solution:
“The connection between more and better has been broken; our needs for many products and services are already more than adequately met, and many of our as-yet- unsatisfied needs will be met not by producing more, but by producing differently, producing other things, or even producing less…From the point where it takes only 1,000 hours per year or 20,000 to 30,000 hours per lifetime to create an amount of wealth equal to or greater than the amount we create at the present time in 1,600 hours per year or 40,000 to 50,000 hours in a working life, we must all be able to obtain a real income equal to or higher than our current salaries in exchange for a greatly reduced quantity of work…The work ethic ceases to be viable in such a situation and workbased society is thrown into crisis.”