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Not so long ago, there were two competing explanations of unemployment.Now, a third explanation is gaining traction: declines in full-time work opportunities and real wages are both due to automation. To be sure, the idea that robots are gobbling up human jobs is a new slant on the very old problem of technological unemployment. On the assumption that China is a strategic enemy of the U.S., it is imperative that the American people embrace technological innovation to win the race for world leadership.The challenge of a more precarious job market is to be met by making people more precarious.To its credit, the CFR report does come close to making an important point about the relationship between cyclical unemployment and the longer-term problem of technological unemployment. In the end, the report never makes up its mind about whether flexible forms of work in the "gig economy" represent Keynesian demand deficiency, voluntary choices for part-time work and self-employment, or the involuntary encroachment of automation.
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