Companies replace workers with technology in the face of a growing gap between unemployment and the number of unfilled job openings across the country. Many companies have opted to replace precious labor with sophisticated technology programs to perform tasks that would normally be done by humans, from order taking to shipping goods, automation is slowly taking hold in the United States.
U.S. payrolls have grown by more than 1.6 million new jobs, which in normal times would be a significant number, but in the midst of the sharpest economic recovery from the most severe downturn in 60 years, this number of new jobs is falling short. While more than 9.3 million vacancies remain unfilled, inflation for the last 12 months is almost 5.3%.
Right now, the lack of people willing to work is hurting U.S. job growth. Although hourly wages have been rising in recent months to attract workers, companies have simply been unable to compete with the stimulus checks and unemployment benefits provided by the federal government.
Other constraints, such as fear of contracting the virus and the lack of qualified skills to perform certain jobs have also slowed job growth in the United States, yet it is still surprising how many vacancies remain unfilled despite a 6% unemployment rate.
The gap between Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth and job growth has become evident as 2021 progresses, and companies have opted to invest in software to replace the workers they can’t find.
How is the substitution of technology for workers progressing in the United States?
In fact, software investment grew by 10.5% during the first quarter of 2021, which translated into thousands of businesses pumping money into cloud computing (collaborative software and e-commerce businesses).
The rise of online retail and the slow recovery of brick-and-mortar businesses is a clear sign of how technology has replaced jobs in industries that were originally job-intensive.
Amazon’s online stores and sales channels have replaced cashiers and store assistants, and physical businesses in once-bustling American malls. As the latest figures released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed, retail created just 6,000 jobs during the month of May.
Fast food is the forerunner in replacing workers with technology
One of the companies benefiting from the transition of businesses to replace labor with technology is CardFree Inc. which designs and operates an online and mobile food ordering system. CardFree allows restaurants to anticipate orders and regulate them to better organize their staff and production capacity.
McDonald’s, meanwhile, is testing a new Artificial Intelligence (AI) for taking orders at its Drive-Thru, which the chain soon plans to expand to its more than 14,000 restaurants nationwide.
Although McDonald’s CEO Chris Kempczinski assured that the transition will not happen overnight, he did affirm that in five years the use of artificial intelligence for taking orders will be a generalized practice in all chains in the country.