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There may not be enough new jobs to compensate for robots after all

Fiat Chrysler

When optimists reassure the public not to fear the new age of robotization, they say that, as has always happened since the beginning of the industrial revolution, the economy will produce more than enough jobs to replace those destroyed. But the data are delivering a blow to that argument: the U.S. economy is producing comparatively few of the companies responsible for the bulk of new jobs — young startups.

We reported yesterday that new startups are forming at the slowest rate on record, according to an analysis by the Economic Innovation Group. But the additional point, made by McKinsey, the consultant firm, is that even when they are formed, they aren't lasting very long.

Why it matters: If there is not to be the mass unemployment feared by robot pessimists in the coming decades, the economy is going to have to churn out new entrepreneurs and their businesses. But, eight years into the recovery, the engine of the economy — the green shoots of new startups — is still idle, with no sign of a turn. "The trend is not going to break by itself," McKinsey's Sree Ramaswamy tells Axios. There is no indication that the economy is about to revert into a frenzy of new startup activity.