Brad DeLong says Long-Term Unemployment is turning into Structural Unemployment

DeLong is echoing a post by Mark Thoma and says:

It’s very scary: long-term unemployment has a way of turning into structural unemployment…

Yes it is scary. My new book, The Lights in the Tunnel, is all about how advancing automation technology is going to lead to structural unemployment.  I’m concerned that structural unemployment is going to get a lot worse. Economists are saying it will take years for the job market to recover—and during that time, technology will continue to advance. If consumer demand remains depressed (which seems likely), there’s a good chance that technology investment will flow disproportionately into labor-saving technologies such as automation software, robotics, expert systems, etc. That, of course, will result in even more unemployment.

3 thoughts on “Brad DeLong says Long-Term Unemployment is turning into Structural Unemployment

  1. I have not read this book but I will be ordering it as soon as possible. There is very little discussion on this topic. This will be a major problem in the years ahead, and governments are doing little about it. It’s interesting to note that economists still think we can return to low levels of unemployment but it just may take longer than usual. Economists’ forecasting ability depends on models that do not take into account the exponential advancement in automation which is now permeating through the entire jobs market. While they accept the effects of automation on labour displacement, they just assume new jobs will be created that only humans can do. This was because there were always certain fundamental human skills that were very difficult to simulate. New jobs required these skills and therefore humans. Alot of these basic skills are themselves now being reverse-engineered and brought closer to automation. Once combined into some sort of device/robot, it will be impossible for humans to compete.

    Incorporation of these trends into forecasting models would perhaps require a kuhnian paradigm shift in perspective. This is understandable to a degree as it is very difficult to predict exactly what the outcome of all this technological progress will be. It also possible that they don’t wish to be considered pessimists or are unwilling to advise governemnts to carry out the policy changes that would be unpopular. One thing is certain, this structural unemployment problem won’t disappear any time soon.

  2. The definitive solution to unemployment already exists. – Do you want to know how? Watch Zeitgeist Addendum NOW at

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