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According to a study by economists at the professional services firm Deloitte, the rise of technology has been nothing but beneficial for the labour market. Whilst self-service checkout machines, for instance, have reignited debate about technology’s capacity to destroy rather than create jobs, the study – nominated for the Society of Business Economists’ Rybczynski prize – suggests otherwise.

“The dominant trend is of contracting employment in agriculture and manufacturing being more than offset by rapid growth in the caring, creative, technology and business services sectors,” they write. “Machines will take on more repetitive and laborious tasks, but seem no closer to eliminating the need for human labour than at any time in the last 150 years.”

The study points to job increases in the healthcare and teaching industries to suggest that public resources are no longer as stretched as they once were. The economists believe that rising incomes have allowed consumers to spend more on personal services, such as grooming; that in turn has driven employment of hairdressers and bar staff, for example. Similarly, more dangerous professions, such as mining and farming, have seen a decrease over the last century.

Whilst Human Scientists may choose to debate the study’s conclusions, Economists and Computer Scientists may prefer to explore whether these trends are set to continue into the future. Historians may be interested by the link between statistical analysis reflecting historical trends; as we benefit from increasingly comprehensive data sets, insightful studies such as Deloitte’s can increasingly be undertaken. 

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