Average is Over

New technologies are transforming the structure of the US economy but creating only modest numbers of jobs, according to the biggest official survey of businesses, conducted only once every five years.

The 2012 economic census shows how technology is creating a boom in output for new industries – such as shale gas and internet retail – but only a modest increase in their payrolls.

It highlights concerns that recent innovations in information technology tend to raise productivity by replacing existing workers, rather than creating new products that demand more labour to produce.

The FT link is interesting throughout and I believe these numbers vindicate what many of us have been arguing.  It also stresses the oft-neglected point that mining and drilling are relatively capital-intensive sectors:

Drilling is capital intensive, however, so even though the industry’s sales rose by $142bn, its annual payroll was up only $20bn to $61bn in total.

It also turns out that online retail is not very labor intensive at current margins.


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