Does innovation create or destroy jobs?

I found this interesting piece on the decline of print media jobs being replaced by social media jobs.

It asks whether or not innovation create or destroy jobs?

The rush of new ideas and new technologies can turn formerly rock-solid companies into sand that melts away even as we watch.  The sale of the Washington Post is a case in point. By making that deal,  the Graham family is acknowledging that they could not see a good strategy for survival.

We know what will happen next: Fewer journalists will be working at the Post a year from now than today.  The Grahams allowed the operation to run mammoth losses which Jeff Bezos, rich as he is, will not tolerate.  Many people will suffer.

But remember this: Old industries can decline even as new jobs growth. In fact, the field of journalism is going through a massive innovative spurt that is creating jobs even as others are being destroyed. About a month ago I did a post on exactly this subject, where I looked at unpublished BLS data and help-wanted data from The Conference Board.  Here’s what I found:

  • Employment at newspapers is  down about 5% over the past year.
  • The number of help-wanted ads for “news analysts, reporters, and correspondents” is up 15% compared to a year ago.
  • More people are telling the BLS that they are working as a news analyst, reporter, or correspondent compared to a year ago.
  • Roughly half the want-ads for news analysts, reporters and correspondents contain the words ‘digital’, ‘internet’, ‘online’, or ‘mobile’. 


[T]here seems little doubt that technology and innovation in journalism is creating new jobs in different industries even as the old companies and old industries are being undermined. I’m pretty sure that jobs at Politico are not being reported not in the same industry as jobs at the Washington Post, even if Politico hires a WaPo reporter to cover more or less the same things.

As innovation accelerates, we’ll see more examples of this kind of divergence: Declining old industries, growing new jobs.  Our task is to identify where the new jobs are and encourage them.


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  • DavidW

    misinterpreted data. The rise in the number of want ads is purely down to the decline in journalistic standards and the desperate advertising is to attract the few that can actually justify the title “journalist”

  • philbest

    Some of the libertarian economics web sites have a favourite synonymous term: “buggy whip manufacturing”.

  • philbest

    The Wall St Journal just published something good on this sort of thing:

    Robots, 3-D Printers and Other Looming Innovations

    These new technologies will create far more high-paying jobs than they destroy.

    By Andy Kessler

    7 Aug 2013

    “…….These Luddites are wrong. The road to wealth does indeed pass through the graveyard of today’s jobs. But history shows that better, higher paying jobs are always created by technology—even if no one seems to remember this during
    periods of creative destruction.

    The trick is to lower the cost of new machines and inventions that can do things never before possible, making them available for wide use. Here are a few recent examples…..”

    • Polish Pride

      These technologies will give us the ability to do away with jobs altogether if we as a society choose to. But to do so people need to move past the mindset of people having to work 40-60 hrs per week. It isn’t utopian as many jobs will not be able to be automated but such a shift could see people only needing to work half or a quarter of the time that many do now.

      If you can eliminate the cost of the machines from the equation altogether then the potential is only as limited as the resources available.

      Such a shift would have the ability to eliminate war, poverty and 80% of crime.

      • cows4me

        Yeah I’ve heard it all before, many kids think the computer can do it all. Pigs arse it can, the bloody thing doesn’t get up at 5 and spend 12 hours doing all the farm work.

        • Polish Pride

          Automation through Computers, robotics etc can solve many problems. They could possibly be used more extensively in the milking shed and in cropping but in farming that is one industry where many roles will still need to be performed by man. What it would do is free up manpower for job sharing, where a farmer might only need to work 6 months of the year with someone else working the other 6 months or 3 working 4months of the year.

      • overthehill

        And how do you propose to put food on the table when you’re working 25% of your previous hours? Work levels will stay more or less stable, but profits will soar as costs of production drop due to technology replacing workers.

        • Polish Pride

          Remove the money. It’s original purpose was as a medium for exchange. It has now become a barrier to progress. Without the profit motive the only thing stopping things from being built is having the resources available and some man power to do it.

          We already have the ability to produce everything anyone needs or wants. It then becomes a matter automating what can be automated and having a distribution network to get products out to those who wanting or needing them.

          It is far better explained here though

  • rusty

    Things change. I started work as a draftsman and was issued a set of water colours, india ink and mitchell nibs. I had a calculation book and a set of trig tables to do my calculations by hand. Now I sit in front of a set up that looks like NASA control with more computer power than the Apollo missions. I cope. I thrive.

    The demand for stone masons, roof thatchers and people who ride carts collecting dung has declined. Get used to it.

    • Mr Sackunkrak

      That’ll change once the Greens are in.

  • Jman

    The problem that many of the old-school journalists that work at places like the Washington Post have, is that they built their entire careers on being opinion writers rather than as actual journalists who report the news. Now they’re finding that every person with a keyboard is an opinion writer. Real journalists who go out on the coalface getting a story will still do fine.