COVID-19, 4IR, and the Future of Work
The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented public health crisis that has led to staggering losses in economic activity and jobs. Even as the world grapples with containing the virus and stemming the economic hemorrhage, it is becoming clear that the pandemic is contributing to the accelerated deployment of Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR) automation technologies. This acceleration could proceed unevenly across sectors and manifest in unexpected ways, impacting not only the manufacturing sector but also leading to the automation of white collar jobs in both front- and back-office contexts. Many argue that these changes will be permanent, and, since increased 4IR automation is itself expected to reduce aggregate demand for labor in the short run, such an outcome would complicate post-pandemic job recovery in the APEC region.