artificial intelligence

Traditional or Roth 401(k)?

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We start the show this week with Shirley from D.C. who’s wondering if she should be using the Roth 401(k) that’s available to her. Most large companies nowadays offer the Roth option, the problem is that many employees aren’t familiar with what it is or how it works.

Next up was Laura from Seattle who has one main question: is our financial picture solid and sound? Sounds simple, but you guys know there’s a lot more to it than that.

Since 1973, our productivity has grown almost six times faster than our wages. Most of us rank so far below the top earners in the country that the "winners" might as well inhabit another planet.

But work is about much more than earning a living. Work gives us our identity, and a sense of purpose and place in this world. And yet, work as we know it is under siege.

Joining us today to discuss is Ellen Ruppel Shell, author of The Job: Work and Its Future in a Time of Radical Change.

Through exhaustive reporting and keen analysis, The Job reveals the startling truths and unveils the pervasive myths that have colored our thinking on one of the most urgent issues of our day: how to build good work in a globalized and digitalized world where middle class jobs seem to be slipping away.

Traveling from deep in Appalachia to the heart of the Midwestern rust belt, from a struggling custom clothing maker in Massachusetts to a thriving co-working center in Minnesota, Shell presents evidence from a wide range of disciplines to show how our educational system, our politics, and our very sense of self have been held captive to and distorted by outdated notions of what it means to get and keep a good job.

Work, in all its richness, complexity, rewards and pain, is essential for people to flourish. Ellen Ruppel Shell paints a compelling portrait of where we stand today, and points to a promising and hopeful way forward.

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"Jill on Money" theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.

Robots, AI, and Automation with Darrell West

The robots are coming, the robots are coming!!

Okay, so maybe we’re not yet living in a world that looks like the movie Terminator, but it’s safe to say that changes are coming to the workforce as we know it. Robots, artificial intelligence, and driverless cars are no longer things of the distant future. They are with us today and will become increasingly common in coming years, along with virtual reality and digital personal assistants.

That’s what we’re talking about today with Darrell West, a decades-long connection of mine who is vice president and director of Governance Studies and the founding director of the Center for Technology Innovation at the Brookings Institution. In his latest book, The Future of Work: Robots, AI, and Automation, West explores the current state of the workplace, how technological innovation will disrupt it and why government policy needs to change to help workers adapt to it.

If companies need fewer workers due to automation and robotics, what happens to those who once held those jobs and don't have the skills for new jobs? And since many benefits are delivered through employers, how are people outside the workforce for a lengthy period of time going to earn a living and get health care and social benefits?

Throughout the pages of this book, West argues that society needs to rethink the concept of jobs, reconfigure the social contract, move toward a system of lifetime learning, and develop a new kind of politics that can deal with economic dislocations.

West presents a number of proposals to help people deal with the transition from an industrial to a digital economy:

  • Broaden the concept of employment to include volunteering and parenting and pay greater attention to the opportunities for leisure time
  • Workers will need help throughout their lifetimes to acquire new skills and develop new job capabilities
  • Political reforms will be necessary to reduce polarization and restore civility so there can be open and healthy debate about where responsibility lies for economic well-being

It’s a fascinating read about what faces us in the days ahead...a discussion that should take place sooner rather than later.

“Better Off” is sponsored by Betterment.

Have a money question? Email me here or call 855-411-JILL.

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Connect with me at these places for all my content:

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"Better Off" theme music is by Joel Goodman, www.joelgoodman.com.