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May 9th, 2022
The pandemic has changed how some people think about life, work, and what they want out of both. By now you’ve probably heard about The Great Resignation – when droves of workers left their jobs or switched careers during the early post-pandemic era. Even though many have quit their pre-pandemic jobs, they aren’t sitting on the sidelines.
The strong job market with ample opportunities and high pay has lured several workers to find their happiness elsewhere. Some are reinventing themselves and prefer starting their own businesses while others are finding work that allows them to work from home permanently.
This has caused several industries, especially those with lower-paid workers, to have worker shortages. Just this weekend I went to three different retail/food shops and was met with a sign on the door saying the place was unexpectedly closed due to worker shortages.
The job openings report came out last week and we have 11.5 million open jobs and only 5 million people seeking employment, which means there are two open jobs for everyone looking.
This is what I’m calling the Great Divide and it’s going to accelerate a trend happening in industries with worker shortages.
The Great Divide is bringing automation to the workplace at an accelerated pace. With a lack of workers for open jobs, companies are left to turn to robots and other automation solutions to accomplish their tasks.
Here are three industries and some companies within them that are using robots to address the worker shortage.
In the food industry, McDonald’s (MCD) is testing out voice-ordering technology in drive-thrus at 10 restaurants in the Chicago area. This way they’ll make sure you’re always asked about that upsell item, but more importantly, it frees up the human order taker to help out the other team members. Yum Brands (YUM), which owns brands like KFC, Taco Bell, and Pizza ut revealed an agreement between KFC and Hyundai Robotics to develop chicken-cooking robots. We’re already seeing automated ordering systems taking over the fast-food industry.
For Industrial/Consumer applications, Boston Dynamics, owned by Softbank (SFTBY) creates human and animal-like robots that do everything from carrying heavy loads in factories to performing reconnaissance missions for the US Military. Oceaneering (OII) uses remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) to assist oil and gas companies with underwater operations. They do everything from lifting massive amounts of weight to underwater rig inspections to help fix problems with underwater pipelines.
In the Healthcare industry, companies like Accuray (ARAY), Stryker (SYK), and Intuitive Surgical (ISRG) develop robots and automation tools to assist surgeons and are now able to perform non-invasive surgeries under supervision.
For those interested in investing in the broader robotics industry, you can look at the Global Robotics & Automation Index ETF (ROBO).
What to Watch This Week: April’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) numbers are due out on Wednesday. Economists are looking for CPI numbers to edge up by .2%, coming down sharply from March’s 1.2% rise, marking a tentative sign that the rate of price increases may have peaked in March.
If you have any questions, comments, or anything we can help with, reach us at any time.
Guest Writer, Filthy Rich, Dirt Poor
Editor, Wealthy Investor Society
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