How Computers Are Creating a Second Economy Without Workers – Bill Davidow – Business – The Atlantic

The Gross Domestic Product for the United States in 2011 was around $15 trillion. There are a little over 130 million non-farm employees. So each worker adds a little over $100,000 to the domestic output. The numbers are quite different for a Google employee. Google has a little more than 32,000 employees and its $38 billion in revenues means it generates about $1.2 million per employee. The numbers are similar for Facebook.

Walmart has some two million employees, and annual sales of around $200 billion. Given that many work part-time, I figure that the company has sales of around $100,000 per employee. With 56,000 employees in 2011, Amazon generated a little over $800,000 per employee.

Here’s the challenge: In the past, every million-dollar increase in economic output generated on the order of ten jobs. In the future, in the productive Second Economy, it may generate only one or two.

Ugh. That last paragraph is really annoying. Consider if you turn it around: In the past, each new job generated roughly $100,000 of value to the economy. In the coming computer-based economy, each new job will generate from $500,000 to $1,000,000 of value. I will grant that there is a problem figuring out how to handle job losses due to increasing use of technology, but this has been a significant problem since at least the onset of mechanized agriculture. You can say that it’s easy for me to say because I’m employed, but still, I’d rather live in a world where a worker has the potential to produce 5x to 10x over what they produced thirty or forty years ago.

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