Underemployment, rather than unemployment, maybe the problem with automation.

Still, pure technological unemployment also may be a distraction from a larger issue. A recent report by the Boston Globe that elaborated on a US Census study on older millennials described the demographic in stark terms. Middle-class blue-collar jobs have been disappearing and low-wage service jobs have filled the gaps. Some workers even fall out the bottom of the ladder. The Census study that found 1 in 4 men aged 25 to 34 living at home are neither employed nor studying. A lack of tertiary education — professional, college, vocational — is an increasingly large divider between success and hardship in this new economy.

This jives with Goldman’s reading of the future, and not in a good way. Healthcare, IT systems, and food service jobs may be strong industries, but only food service may be viable for some job seekers given the training required.

The Federal Reserve sees this as a major problem, and Chair Janet Yellen has noted the need for more educational opportunities for people with lower incomes. A large Fed survey published this month noted severe headwinds faced by these workers, including unpredictable schedules, limited hours, and not much in the way of employee benefits. For today at least, the major issue around automation and technological change to work may be how good the jobs are, not whether they exist. […]

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