Okay, let’s talk about jobs and this Seth Godin article.
A friend and I have been talking about the future of jobs lately. My friend feels that jobs are disappearing fast, just going away. My contention is that there will always be jobs, just different types of jobs.
Based on what my friend wrote yesterday, it kind of opened my eyes, and I realized that I am pretty sure that he and I define jobs differently. Or at least that’s the way I felt after reading what he wrote.
Is being an Entrepreneur a job?
It seemed to me, from what he said, that entrepreneurial type things, hustling out work on your own, that sort of thing, are not really jobs in his book. See, I consider those to be very legitimate jobs, you are just your own boss. Maybe I’m wrong about his thinking, but the things that he wrote seemed to point in that direction.
This all ties in with Seth’s article about the truck drivers and other types of workers who are independent contractors. To me, that is a job. I don’t see any problem with it. Yes, I agree with Seth that there are people undercutting the prices, making it where everybody is either losing money or living right on the edge. But, the market will correct for that. Nobody can go on for years and years, decades and decades, losing money. You can’t make it up on the volume. LOL. Sooner or later, the market has to stabilize to the point where everybody is making money.
If every trucker is losing money, in the long run, nobody will be doing any trucking anymore. They couldn’t afford to do it. Now, there may be a situation where some people are able to make money, but other people cannot make money. Those people who cannot make money are running inefficiently, in comparison with those who are making money. Those who are losing money will be eliminated from the marketplace. That’s just the way that the free market works.
My friend mentioned about UPS, and that the number of UPS drivers will go down, while things like Amazon Flex (doing deliveries for Amazon) will increase. To me, that is not a loss of jobs, it will be a fixed number of jobs, but they would just be spread out in a different way.
In fact, my argument would be that the overall number of delivery jobs will increase by a great amount in the future because e-commerce is growing exponentially. The more orders that are being sold, the more delivery people are needed. Now, there can be exceptions, for example, if Amazon really gets this drone program going, that would reduce the number of delivery people needed. In all, though, I think that the job numbers for delivery people will increase in the future.
Work at McDonald’s?
My friend also mentioned about McDonald’s workers, and how that type of work would be decreasing. I’m not sure if you are aware of this or not, but I think it was two years ago, when the Obama administration was getting all hypersensitive about raising the minimum wage, Seattle passed an ordinance which made the minimum wage in Seattle 15 dollars per hour.
McDonald’s took drastic action in Seattle. Now, in all, or at least most McDonald’s restaurants in Seattle, they don’t even have the counter personnel to take your order. It’s all done on a kiosk system where you enter what you want, and pay with your card. I assume there must be a way to pay with cash as well. But, by doing this McDonald’s eliminated a huge percentage of their in-store employees, otherwise, they would’ve never been able to stay in business with a $15 per hour minimum wage.
I see this happening more and more in the future, especially since Seattle has kind of been a testing ground and the rest of the McDonald’s stores can look at what they’ve done, take the good, fix the bad, and reduce the workforce. Will that mean a loss of jobs? Probably. But some jobs will shift.
Somebody has to make those kiosks. Somebody has to do the programming, make the computers that operate the whole thing. So, many jobs will shift, instead of standing behind the counter taking orders for hamburgers, maybe you will be doing programming of the computer system, doing carpentry to make the kiosk itself, or many other things that would be involved. Maybe you’ll be a service person that goes and fixes kiosks that are not working. I just feel they will always be jobs, they would just shift from one type of work to another.
A while back, I think it was on 60 Minutes, but it could be a different show, I saw a story about some coal miners in West Virginia. These guys were country bumpkins, hicks. Didn’t seem to have much intelligence. Basically, the entire town lost their coal mining jobs, that was basically the only kind of work there. Sure, there were stores and such to service those coal miners, but even the store clerks owed their jobs to the coal mines because that’s who the customers were.
There was some kind of program that came in, I don’t recall if it was a government thing, I actually think that it was a private sector program. This program trained these country bumpkins how to do computer programming. Many of these workers said freely right on camera they didn’t know the first thing about computers. They thought it was impossible for them to learn how to program. But, you know what? They learned, and basically, all of them are doing very well. They have BPO centers set up there in West Virginia doing programming and other business process outsourcing there. As I recall, I think it was the same story, Google is even setting up data centers there, for these former coal miners to man and keep going. Just another example of how jobs will shift and are already shifting.
The Gig Economy
Speaking of all these gig type jobs, it really brought something to mind. I have a company where we are basically starting to use “gig employees” to take care of the work. The things that we are doing right now where we will only use people on the days when we have work for them, basically that is gig work like what this article is about. A few days ago my friend was asking me if it wasn’t hard to find people who are willing to do that kind of thing, compared to traditional employment. I told him that we found it quite easy to find people who want to do it. We actually got a lot more applicants than we could use. Flexibility in schedule, a lot of free time when they’re not working, those sort of things seem to be very desirable to people. This is, pure and simple, gig work. A few years ago I was really interested in this gig economy thing, and now I am getting excited to learn even more about Gig Economy trends.
What are your thoughts about jobs in the future? How about the Gig Economy?