These companies are trying to create better jobs – and find human values – with automation

While the country’s attention is on trade, and tax rates for businesses, October’s economic data shows the kinds of challenges every American — small business owner included — faces in a struggling economy.

Recent labor report showing a decline in unemployment – while it is still much higher than before the recession – are one sign that the economy is growing. And while the jobless rate is high, as it has been for years, wages are rising.

The drop in the jobless rate was the largest since 1964 – when President Lyndon B. Johnson oversaw a race war in the U.S. The unemployment rate then was 11.4 percent.

The recent trend hasn’t gone unnoticed.

Interest in non-traditional business models in the U.S. has received a boost, and there is a new crop of entrepreneurs. Here are some of the most intriguing businesses focused on not just automation, but the way people work in an age of uncertainty.

“We like to say that nobody wants to be done.” That’s the slogan for an invention by the two entrepreneurs behind New York-based FlexDial — a one-month phone consultation service that could mean a bonus for the one-hundredth person who calls a client. They’re not sure about the rates, and in any case, charging $25 for one hour might not be possible; but they’ve invested the past four years figuring out the business model, hiring people and doing all the things a fledgling company has to do to succeed.

Welcome to the land of automation, which is growing at a roughly 6 percent clip and showing up in every industry from retail to food service. Reams of data show that the jobs that are most vulnerable to automation tend to be low-skill and that so far, the robots haven’t made significant progress in the good-paying manufacturing jobs.

Paying attention to a lot of the country’s data and the business struggles — and successes — of both high- and low-income groups is just one element of the unique challenges that await people in the U.S. as it tries to emerge from the longest economic expansion on record. Check out the full story here.


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