In This Review

The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in the Age of Intelligent Machines
The Work of the Future: Building Better Jobs in the Age of Intelligent Machines
By David Autor, David A. Mindell, and Elisabeth B. Reynolds
MIT Press, 2022, 192 pp
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The authors push back on the notion that technological advances will lead to the elimination of countless jobs in the future. Technological change, they emphasize, takes time to unfold and creates new job opportunities even while destroying old ones. In fact, public policy has been more important than technology in shaping labor-market outcomes, specifically for less skilled workers without college degrees. Although all advanced economies have experienced technological change, the United States has seen a sharper divergence between productivity and wages, a more dramatic decline in labor’s share of national income, and a more pronounced rise in poorly compensated jobs, all as a result of policy, not technology. These economic trends and their social and political consequences, the authors argue, can be reversed by an increase in the federal minimum wage, which would spur employers to take steps to boost the productivity of low-paid workers; by legal changes that enhance the ability of workers to organize and represent themselves collectively in negotiations; and by tax policies that encourage firms to invest more extensively in worker training.