Andrew Yang Is Wrong16th June 2019
Either that, or everyone else is. The centerpiece of Yang’s campaign is that technology is rapidly displacing labor, creating the prospect of mass unemployment in the not distant future.
As a factual matter, this is wrong about the present and recent past. Productivity growth, which measures the rate at which technology is displacing human labor, has averaged just 1.3 percent annually since 2005, the slowest pace on record. This compares to an annual growth rate of 3.0 percent in the long Golden Age from 1947 to 1973 and again in 1995 to 2005. Furthermore, official projections, like those from the Congressional Budget Office and the Social Security Administration, show that productivity growth rates will remain slow for the indefinite future.
While it is possible that these projections will prove wrong, and that productivity growth will accelerate rapidly Yang is going against the overwhelming majority of the economists with his view. It also worth noting that the periods of rapid productivity growth, especially the Golden Age, were periods of low unemployment and rapid increases in wages. So, even if productivity growth did accelerate rapidly, there is little reason to believe it will lead to the sort of mass unemployment that Yang warns against.
It would have been worth some mention of these facts in this lengthy piece on Yang, since it is likely that many Washington Post readers were unaware of them.
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