How Automatable is Your Job? How Much Will the Minimum Wage Accelerate Automation?


Courtesy of the great blog Cafe Hayek , I came across this fascinating interactive graph built upon no doubt painstaking McKinsey analysis of the range of U.S. occupations and where they sit on axes of how automatable the occupations are and their average hourly wage range.

The common canard from left-leaning advocates for an increase in the minimum wage is that it will improve conditions more than it will harm them – an assumption that more people will benefit from improved wages than will be harmed by being laid off. This graph shows that there are millions of individuals that would be greatly at risk of being automated out of a job – if not now, than in the near future as incentives for innovation in automation would increase.

For advocates of the minimum wage being increased, keep in mind the unintended consequences of what you advocate for. Aside from the fact that one unintended consequence is that those that are most in need of a job are automated out of it, one of the less often talked about realities of a government forced wage floor is that even if it has relatively benign impacts on labor (which in fact it most surely will be more than harmless) is the reality that at best, market and political forces will fuel inflation such that equilibrium and the market clearing price is met once again. This is something that Hayek documents in his writings. Thus, even in its most harmless hypothesized state, a forced raising of the minimum wage is ineffective at best in the intermediate term. In the worst (and most likely) case, it is human labor crushing at the end of the skill scale where people are most in need of a job.


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