Tags: job | robots | wage | income

Robots and Machines Are Taking Over Even More Jobs

By    |   Sunday, 08 February 2015 06:10 PM

Last June I wrote to you about an expanding trend of using robots and machines to replace the minimum-wage workforce.

However, today I want to go a bit further to say that it's not just the minimum-wage workforce that's threatened now. As robots and machines are beginning to be able to do more, they're threatening even more of the traditional workforce.

In the past, we've been used to some of these things like "automated teller machines" and self-checkout stations at Wal-Mart and grocery stores, which caused the need for fewer entry-level bankers and cashiers.

The next round of changes came from a company called Momentum Machines. They invented a robotic burger maker that can make up to 360 burgers per hour. And you know how many workers that can replace at the fast food joints when you think about how slow they are with your single order. And, the robot will do it with fewer mess-ups!

Since then, Panera Bread has stated that it will install kiosks (up to eight of them per restaurant) to help solve slow-service issues. But really it's solving a "cost" issue called "payroll."

Then there are Amazon.com's robots. They started with an army of robots 1,000 strong, but they're supposed to have as many as 10,000 of them these days. But however many they're up to now, they've said they can process up to 300 orders per hour. That's 5 orders per minute!

More recently, I've seen stories about AOL laying off up to 150 sales people soon because they're going to have machines that will buy and sell online ads. Well, those 150 positions aren't minimum-wage positions, I'm sure.

The next thing you're seeing are table-top checkouts at restaurants like Chili's, which are replacing the need for more waitresses. But it's not just the waitress or waiter that's on the chopping block. So are the bartenders.

Yes, I've heard of robot bartenders now. One of them was on a cruise ship "working" and another one was in Italy. Well, there's already a high profit margin from drinks in bars, but imagine how profitable it becomes when you can cut out any pay you give the bartender?

The company doesn't have to pay as much per hour to them and the robot doesn't need tips.

Then there's the story I've seen of "sales assistant" robots at Lowe's. Now these are replacing jobs that are closer to minimum wage. But still, more jobs are being replaced.

Next, there are the new 300-pound security guard robots that are on patrol. These robots only cost firms $6.25 per hour and yet they can replace a worker making $10 to $30 per hour.

Another one that comes to mind is George Soros-backed Mazor Robotics, which helps perform surgeries on spines. Yep, these puppies cost $849,000 a piece, but you know how expensive surgeries get. It wouldn't take them doing too many of them before they're paying for themselves. Besides, you don't want a robot that cost $50 working on your back, I'm sure! However, these are good-paying jobs they'd be replacing.

Then, of course, we've heard of Foxconn, which is the maker of Apple's iPhones. They've said they're going to replace a slew of workers with machines in the future.

And lastly, there are drones. These could end up cutting out the UPS and FedEx guys. Heck, druglords are already using them to deliver drugs and cutting out their underlings ... but that's another story for another day.

As you can see, programs, machines and robots are replacing plenty of people in the workforce. Now, I'm not necessarily saying that's a bad thing or a good thing, because there's a good and bad angle to them.

For instance, I've enjoyed being able to go to the ATM and deposit checks and get money out without having to wait in line for the teller. However, when it comes to Wal-Mart, I'd rather have a cashier check out my food. Why? Because I'm "old school" and don't know how to deal with the fruit codes and other things that could come up.

But here's where I would like to go with this article. Whose jobs are being replaced by any of these forms of automation? Employees.

Why? People above you are making decisions based off of calls for higher minimum wages ($15 minimum wage requests, etc.). They know that if they work you over a certain amount of hours, they have to pay healthcare.

Due to Obamacare, the whole healthcare issue has gotten more complex. The way around it? Automate through programs, machines, robots and drones.

These automated devices won't gripe, won't call in sick, don't need vacations, they don't need pay raises, they don't need healthcare, etc.

So, one way for you to solve the potential threat to your job one day is to become a business owner rather than being an employee. After all, you'll never fire yourself.

Maybe it starts with you developing another stream of income in some other interest that you've had. Who knows? It might become your main business one day.

I had this talk with a buddy of mine a few years back ago. He worked for a physician and formed a fitness gym on the side only for the financial purpose of putting his kids through private schooling.

Well, I told him that if he focused more on that it would empower him more and his pay could go up at a far faster clip than if he waited on the pay raises from the doctor.

It got him to thinking differently about it. And with a few more coaching sessions, he's grown that CrossFit gym many times over. Now, if a machine replaced him at the physician's office, he would have his gym to fall back on. And he's not going to fire himself from that.

The other thing you can do is own assets that provide income to you. In other words, become an owner (asset acquirer) rather than just an employee and consumer.

For instance, when you buy stocks, you can get paid dividends simply for owning shares in the company. You don't have to maintenance any equipment or deal with management, employees, etc. You're one of the bosses, as a shareholder. They all work for you.

And if the management team of that company decides to automate, then great! That's wider profit margins for you as a shareholder.

Another plan of action is to own some income-producing real estate. Now, when you buy stocks, there are no other costs associated with them until you sell them. While this isn't the case with rental properties, if you buy them correctly, you can still make far more money in rents than it costs you to maintain the homes. Again, you want some good counsel here or a good property management team, but this can be successfully done too.

You own assets that produce income and everyone is always going to need a place to stay.

In fact, with the worsening financial condition of many Americans and the lack of desire from Millennials to actually own their own home, it could be a great time to consider this option too.

Don't regret "change" or see it in a negative light. It will have both pros and cons to changes like machines, robots, etc.

But the proactive thing to do is to design a plan that you're comfortable with so that automation doesn't put you out of business and in the unemployment line.

God bless!

About the Author: Sean Hyman
Sean Hyman is a member of the Moneynews Financial Brain Trust.
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Last June I wrote to you about an expanding trend of using robots and machines to replace the minimum-wage workforce.
job, robots, wage, income
Sunday, 08 February 2015 06:10 PM
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