90% of Jobs Disappearing?

Almost 10 years ago, Tom Peters predicted that “ninety percent of White-Collar Jobs — as we know them today — will disappear or be changed beyond recognition in the next 10+ years.” I think the reasons he gave were sound. But at any rate, it’s a huge restructuring in the workplace. Could this restructuring be what’s happening right now?

Think about this in terms of the way technology and machinery affected “blue collar jobs”. It’s a continuation of how technology caused the destruction of “farming jobs” if it’s fair to think about it in these terms. With machines causing huge increases in productivity in the factories (and on the farms), it freed up huge numbers of people to take on other issues.

In historical terms, this phenomenon has been called “unemployment” — well, maybe not in the case of the “lost farm jobs”. But there was a time when advances in technology enabled huge numbers of people to give up farming and move to the cities to work in factories. Later technology enabled the factories to do more with less manufacturing labor.

The Wall Street Journal’s lead story today notes that “in recent days, [policy leaders] have all talked publicly about the unusual disconnect between growth and employment.”

“Growth” has resumed. The uptick in employment that normally accompanies “growth” has not. So one of two things could be happening. First, the uptick will occur, but it just has not occurred. Or second, it could be that no corresponding uptick is going to happen.

What’s the right way to deal with this? In eiter case, I think that the solution is going to have to be an entrepreneurial one. I’ll have more to say about this in future posts.