There is a popular narrative that the rise of automation threatens to displace a large segment of the American workforce. Robots in particular are the object of public concerns about employment. But in most American manufacturing plants—particularly small and medium firms—robots are scarce. Fewer than 10 percent of American manufacturers have any industrial robots. This case study argues that the technology challenge facing American industry is not too many robots, but too few. Multiple factors contribute to low robot adoption, including high integration costs, flexibility and design limitations, and workforce challenges. When firms do adopt robots—whether to fulfill a new contract or attract a new customer—there may be benefits for the workforce as well as the economy as a whole.
Why the United States lags behind other industrialized countries in sharing the benefits of innovation with workers and how we can remedy the problem. This book will be released on January 25, 2022