2014 March 06 Thursday
Staples Closing 10% Of Stores With Nearly Half Of Sales Online

A sign of the times. They've also already cut average store size in half.

As retail store fronts continue to shrivel up what will the lower skilled and less bright members of society do for a living?

I am struck by my declining need to buy goods and services from the left half and even the middle of the IQ Bell Curve. It has been many months since my last visit to a bricks and mortar bank. I think I went to Target and Wal-Mart maybe once or twice in 2013. Still going to grocery stores for fresh fruits and vegetables. It has been years since I bought clothing or shoes in a store. I get all electronic devices online. Ditto bed sheets and pillows. Unlike the residents of New Jersey I pump my own gasoline. I do still shop in physical furniture stores though.

What can the less skilled do? Trash collection, but the trucks reach out and grab the cans without the driver leaving his seat. So not as many people collecting the trash. They can still work in food preparation. But automation will come to food prep in time. I'd be surprised if the fast food restaurant of 2034 needs even half the labor of the same sort of restaurant in 2014.

Not much productivity improvement has come to fast food restaurants so far. The rise in fast food restaurant productivity has been slow with a productivity increase of about 12% since 1987. But ordering and payment will get automated with touch screens and smart phone apps. Eventually automation will come to food prep as well.

The decline in wholesale and retail employment has not been as sharp as the decline in manufacturing. That page has a lot of useful graphs on employment trends per sector. Look at those graphs and see if any sector looks like it has the potential to absorb a lot of low skilled workers as employment in other sectors shrink.

Also see: College Grads Taking Low-Wage Jobs Displace Less Educated.

Recent college graduates are ending up in more low-wage and part-time positions as it’s become harder to find education-level appropriate jobs, according to a January study by the Federal Reserve Bank of New York.

My standard advice: Upgrade your skills. You've got to go up if you don't want to go down.

The economic analysis finds that Millennial college graduates ages 25 to 321 who are working full time earn more annually—about $17,500 more—than employed young adults holding only a high school diploma. The pay gap was significantly smaller in previous generations.2 College-educated Millennials also are more likely to be employed full time than their less-educated counterparts (89% vs. 82%) and significantly less likely to be unemployed (3.8% vs. 12.2%).

Part of the effect reported here is due to a larger fraction of smarter people going to college. A bright high school grad of 1970 was probably less likely to go to college than a bright high school grad of 2000. So the people who remain in the ranks of high school grads aren't as smart and ditto for high school drop-outs. Though at the same time IQ of the average college grad has dropped as more people have been encouraged to go to college. That would tend to depress the job performance of the average college grad.

Large demographic changes due to immigration further muddy the water. What wen need: income by IQ level for each generation. That would let us see more clearly how much the wage premium for higher intelligence is rising.

What we need

Share |      By Randall Parker at 2014 March 06 05:05 PM 


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