Job Losses

by Ken Vincent, Featured Contributor

WE CONTINUE to be bombarded with written and verbal reports of how the “good job market” is shrinking, and how the hi tech revolution is replacing good jobs with computerized and robotic functions. Middle class and young graduates are having to work at fast food outlets and in retail for minimum wage.

''360° virtual tour'' glossy iconI agree that many jobs are becoming outdated and that is causing considerable upheaval in society. But we should recall that it isn’t the first time this has happened. One only has to look back some 200 years to the industrial revolution to see the same conditions and worse. Steam power replaced sail, and horse power. With new machinery more food could be grown with less manual labor. At the same time the new factories in cities were clamoring for help. This caused a massive migration from rural areas to cities and those migrants had no job skills that were needed in the factories. These people could herd sheep, milk cows, plant and reap crops, but knew nothing about making or maintaining, or operating machinery. Slums exploded, people were hungry, and there were few safety net programs for them to fall back on.

Fast forward to the late 1800s and early 1900s. Virtually every new invention of the time caused a loss of jobs and in some cases entire industries. The telephone, electricity, indoor plumbing, central heat, elevators, gasoline refining, Ford’s assembly line process, and the combustion engine. The list would be extensive. Again their was a massive shift in the types of jobs and skills and there was a lot of pain and down time in adapting.

Yes, we are going through another radical revolution in the job market. Yes there will be winners and losers, and yes there will be pain and suffering. But society will eventually adapt as it always has. Those displaced welders on the auto assembly line will learn how to maintain those new robotic welding machines. Those people that checked you out at the grocery will learn how to program the self check out machines and so the commercial life again evolves.

Perhaps the good news is that these massive upheavals in the job market seem to happen only about every 100 years. Thus, those going through that pain now won’t have to worry about doing it again.


Ken Vincent
Ken Vincent
KEN is a 46 year veteran hotelier and entrepreneur. Formerly owned two hotels, an advertising agency, a wholesale tour company, a POS company, a leasing company, and a hotel management company. The hotels included chain owned, franchises, and independents. They ranged in type from small luxury inns, to limited service properties, to large convention hotels and resorts. After retiring he authored a book, “So Many Hotels, So Little Time” in which he relates what life is like behind the scenes for a hotel manager. Ken operated more that 100 hotels and resorts in the US and Caribbean and formed eight companies. He is a firm believer that senior management should share their knowledge and experience with the next generation of management.

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  1. Hi Ken,

    Yes, the dynamics within the world of business are changing… but not
    necessarily for the better (depending on which side of better one
    happens to be standing). As the changes continue and the winners and
    losers begin to be tallied on each side of the equation, it appears that
    the prevailing changes are weighing much more heavily on the loser side
    of the scale – simply on the basis of shear numbers. That being the
    case, the imbalance or inequalities that are tending to dominate the
    overall system are making it increasingly unstable; which means there’s a
    greater/increased likelihood of experiencing both minor and major
    perturbations in the system over some fixed period of time. This
    likelihood has been manifest over the past two centuries (and possibly
    longer) as an increasing frequency and magnitude of what’s become known
    in the field of economics as Kondratiev waves…

    From Wikipedia:

    In economics, Kondratiev waves (also called supercycles, great surges,
    long waves, K-waves or the long economic cycle) are supposedly
    cycle-like phenomena in the modern world economy.[1]

    It is claimed that the period of the wave ranges from forty to sixty
    years, the cycles consist of alternating intervals between high sectoral
    growth and intervals of relatively slow growth.[2]

    Unlike the short-term business cycle, the long wave of this theory is not accepted by current mainstream economics….

    According to the innovation theory, these waves arise from the bunching
    of basic innovations that launch technological revolutions that in turn
    create leading industrial or commercial sectors. Kondratiev’s ideas were
    taken up by Joseph Schumpeter in the 1930s. The theory hypothesized the
    existence of very long-run macroeconomic and price cycles, originally
    estimated to last 50–54 years….

    Unlike Kondratieff and Schumpeter Šmihula believed that each new cycle
    is shorter than its predecessor. The main stress is put on technological
    progress and new technologies as decisive factors of any long-time
    economic development. Each of these waves has its innovation phase,
    which is described as a technological revolution and an application
    phase in which the number of revolutionary innovations falls and
    attention focuses on exploiting and extending existing innovations. As
    soon as an innovation or a series of innovations becomes available, it
    becomes more efficient to invest in its adoption, extension and use than
    in creating new innovations. Each wave of technological innovations can
    be characterized by the area in which the most revolutionary changes
    took place (“leading sectors”).

    Every wave of innovations lasts approximately until the profits from the
    new innovation or sector fall to the level of other, older, more
    traditional sectors. It is a situation when the new technology, which
    originally increased a capacity to utilize new sources from nature,
    reached its limits and it is not possible to overcome this limit without
    an application of another new technology.


    IF, these economic cycles truly do exist, and they are brought about by
    forces/factors/conditions that promote the investment in and subsequent
    development of new/more appealing/compelling solutions to human/societal
    needs/interests, then would it not be realistic to expect that with an
    increased pace of technological development, so too, there will be
    increased incidence of cyclic economic disruption? And hasn’t the
    historical record demonstrated ever so clearly that one of the most
    persistent – and increasingly prolonged – casualties of these cyclic
    disruptions is joblessness or a lack of adequate employment?