Skip to content
Opinion
Noah Smith

Where Will You Go When a Robot Takes Your Job?

The U.S. government must assuage people's anxiety about technology upending their working lives, in part by helping them forge new career paths.

Jobs are always changing, but the government can help make it less scary.

Jobs are always changing, but the government can help make it less scary.

Photographer: Don Emmert/AFP

For more columns from Bloomberg Opinion, click here.

There's rising anxiety in the U.S. about the future of work. And for good reason. As technology and trade disrupt existing systems of production, there’s a good chance that many workers will eventually lose their jobs. But instead of trying to freeze the economy in place, the government should help people find new jobs quickly so they don't suffer any economic harm.

Americans have been hearing for years now that robots are coming for their jobs. The pandemic has probably brought those fears closer to reality by pushing businesses to invest in new labor-saving technologies. Innovations like QR code ordering at restaurants are raising productivity; that’s good for the economy overall, and will probably raise wages in the industry. But once initial labor shortages are resolved, it might be harder to find a job waiting tables when fewer wait staff are needed.