The economy is increasingly favoring those who are making something new and it will continue to do so until the more deterministic ways of accumulating wealth are extinct and the economy exclusively favors the creative class1.
This will not be the result of these jobs being automated away by technology but the result of technology providing enough leverage for the unskilled to perform work previously reserved for the skilled. It’s a mistake to think technology will exclusively boost the productivity of existing members of a profession, instead it will reduce the barriers of entry to many professions and result in a greatly expanded labor pool and declining wages for many white color professionals2.
Licensed professions will likely be the last to experience this phenomenon and may experience a short term boost in wages as they continue to benefit from regulatory capture, but eventually it too will give way and even being a doctor or a lawyer will cease to provide the paths to wealth that they did for Boomers and Gen X-ers3.
The result will be a less ergonomic economy for some as high wages will require the ability to perform creative work in unstructured environments 4 5.
I would define the “something” in this sentence very broadly; Etsy product lines, podcasts, books, movies, full blown corporations, and everything in between. ↩
A side effect of this may be attempts to unionize in professions that were previously never associated with unions and attempts to prompt the government into mandating licenses for professions that previously didn’t have them. ↩
At this point I think it is already fair to say nurses could easily do what general practitioners do even without the aid of technology. ↩
There will also be greater variance in outcomes. But I think the long tail will more than support a great deal of people. ↩
And I don’t mean “creative work” just in the context of the creative arts but in the broadest sense of the word. Oh and none of these professions will require a college degree. Just the opposite, schooling is the biggest handicap to excelling at unstructured work. ↩
First published May 2020