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US Labor Force Participation Rate

Posted By Barry Ritholtz On December 4, 2012 @ 12:00 pm In Data Analysis,Economy,Employment | Comments Disabled

[1]
Source: Bianco Research

 

Since its NFP week, I thought it might be interesting to look at some assorted datapoints this week. Today’s focus: US Labor Force Participation Rate.

As the chart above shows, this peaked in 1999, and has been trending downwards ever since. There are several reasons why this is:

• Demographics of the aging baby boomers, whop are retiring, living longer, and impacting this ratio;

• Technology/DotCom collapse eliminated lots of malinvestment driven Tech jobs;

• Financial/Credit crash eliminated lots of malinvestment driven banking/RE jobs;

• Ongoing outsourcing, globalization, etc.

• Robotics

That last item doesn’t get discussed nearly as much as it should, but the single biggest future trend in the labor force is going to be the ongoing replacement of humans by smart machines.

Whether you are a discretionary trader [2], a reporter [3], assemble iPhones [4], do construction of buildings [5], engage in general manufacturer [6], drive a car [7], do surgery [8], or are simply in the world’s oldest profession (aka a sex [9] worker [10]), there is some combination of software + robot that will eventually start doing your job.

I cannot tell you how far in the future this becomes problematic — but its not centuries. The question is whether its decades or years . . .


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URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://www.ritholtz.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/part1202121_big.gif

[2] discretionary trader: http://www.businessweek.com/news/2012-11-06/million-dollar-traders-replaced-with-machines-credit-markets

[3] reporter: http://www.ritholtz.com/blogwww.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/business/computer-generated-articles-are-gaining-traction.html?

[4] assemble iPhones: http://news.cnet.com/8301-1001_3-57549450-92/foxconn-reportedly-installing-robots-to-replace-workers/

[5] construction of buildings: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-theometrics-robots-not-my-enemy-20121113,0,3721501.story

[6] manufacturer: http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/opinion-la/la-ol-3d-printing-robot-assembly-lines-20121113,0,6935023.story

[7] drive a car: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/10/science/10google.html?pagewanted=all

[8] surgery: http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2012/11/21/teenage_video_game_players_match_physicians_at_robotic_surgery_simulation.html

[9] sex: http://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/6766294/Robot-prostitutes-the-future-of-sex-tourism

[10] worker: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/18/sex-robots-sex-tourism_n_1435606.html

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