The Shift: Exploring America’s Rapidly Changing Workforce

The Takeaway

The Takeaway is in San Francisco, California for a special broadcast from public radio station KQED. During this special broadcast co-hosted by Takeaway Host John Hockenberry and Queena Kim, the senior editor of KQED’s Silicon Valley Desk, we’ll explore our changing labor market, and some innovative proposals that will help our society through this transformation. Here’s what you’ll find in today’s show:

  • Around the country, technology and innovation is changing the present and shaping the future of America’s labor market. A trip to a Lowe’s hardware store in California’s Bay Area shows this shift well. Kyle Nel, head of Lowe’s Innovation Labs, has been developing the “LoweBot” (photos below), which helps customers navigate their way around this massive store.
  • Eric “Rick” Hanushek, an economist and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute at Stanford University, explains what the future of the labor market looks like, which jobs might be lost to automation, which jobs will be under-filled, and what that means for the future of the U.S. economy.
  • We’re already living in a world where humans and machines are working side by side. But at an Amazon fulfillment center in Tracy, California, workers have a mixed view on automation. The Takeaway talks with these workers, and with tech expert Michael Chui, a partner at McKinsey & Company.
  • If economists believe jobs will disappear due to automation, what should the United States do? Some have suggested that America introduce a guaranteed basic income — the the idea that everyone should receive a regular, unconditional paycheck. Natalie Foster, who studies and advocates for a universal basic income as the co-chair of the Economic Security Project, explains. 
  • In several corners of the world, non-profits and governments are introducing guaranteed basic income. Marjukka Turunen, head of the legal affairs unit of Kela, Finland’s social security bureau, explains how this Nordic country is experimenting with basic income. The Takeaway also hears from two people who could benefit from a guaranteed basic income: Christina Scardino, a former NUMMI plant autoworker, and Jay-Marie Hill, a musician and community organizer.
  • What happens to society when the labor market makes a dramatic shift? Joanna Reed is a sociologist and lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, where she studies the sociological impact of work. And she says the value of the dollar isn’t the only measure of a hard day’s work in this country.

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