[Note: This item comes from friend Mike Cheponis. DLH]
America’s Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Replaced by Robots
By Vincent Del Giudice and Wei Lu
Apr 26 2017
America’s working class is falling further behind.
The rich-poor gap — the difference in annual income between households in the top 20 percent and those in the bottom 20 percent — ballooned by $29,200 to $189,600 between 2010 and 2015, based on Bloomberg calculations using U.S. Census Bureau data.
Computers and robots are taking over many types of tasks, shoving aside some workers while boosting the productivity of specialized employees, contributing to the gap.
“Technological developments have increasingly replaced low- and mid-skilled jobs while complementing higher-skilled jobs,” said Chad Sparber, an associate professor and chair of the economic department at Colgate University.
This shift is predicted to continue. About 38 percent of U.S. jobs could be at high risk of automation by the early 2030s, according to a study by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP. The “most-exposed” industries include retail and wholesale trade, transportation and storage, and manufacturing, with less-educated workers facing the biggest challenges.
Companies’ use of temporary and part-time employees to cut costs also may be widening the disparity, with wage growth failing to keep up with rising residential and basic-necessity expenses. As the divide grows, hardships increase for the bottom 20 percent. Affordable housing, for example, is in short supply nationwide, forcing workers to find shelter further from their jobs and endure lengthier and costlier commutes. Rental costs rose nationally by 3.9 percent in March from a year earlier, according to the Labor Department.
High-tech hubs were among the five metropolitan statistical areas where the gap between the highest- and lowest-income households expanded the most: two in California, San Francisco and San Jose, as well as Austin and Seattle.