ATMs: They Took Our Jobs?

Andrew Sullivan —  Jun 16 2011 @ 3:03pm

Obama claimed that automation is hurting job prospects. Wilkinson notes that there are more bank tellers now than there were before the advent of the ATM, but agrees that technological change is part of the story:

I think it's plausible that as demand began to pick up after the recession hit bottom, many firms chose to invest in updated technology that further increased the productivity of skilled workers they did not dismiss rather than re-hiring workers whose skills are less augmented by better tech. I wouldn't blame ATMs on our jobless recovery, but surely the general skill-bias of technological change is an important part of the issue. I suspect Tyler Cowen may be right that the recession created an occasion for firms to shed "zero-marginal-product workers". In that case, the ranks of the unemployed are filled with wannabe workers whose labour is at present worth less to employers than the cost of employing them.