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Robots Leave Behind Chinese Factory Workers

Posted April 14, 2015

(Adam Minter – Bloomberg)

These are difficult days to be a factory owner in China. Workers are increasingly scarce, wages are rising, and strikes are breaking out with regularity. Factories in Southeast Asia are now beating China at its own game, attracting investors with the promise of even cheaper labor for low-value assembly work. What’s a factory owner to do?

One increasingly popular option is to buy robots, lots of them. But that solution is already raising another uncomfortable question: what to do with the workers they displace?

According to the International Federation of Robotics, an association of academic and business robotics organizations, China bought approximately 56,000 of the 227,000 industrial robots purchased worldwide in 2014 — a 54 percent increase on 2013. And in all likelihood, China is just getting started. Click here to read more.