Scanning Barcodes Self-Checkouts’ Effect on Labor Markets and Implications for Social Work

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Gage Curtner


The self-checkout kiosk has become a prevalent form of technology that has brought up many questions of the future of jobs and employment for Americans. The COVID-19 pandemic introduced volatility in low-wage positions as well as reduced the buying power of the minimum wage (Cooper et al., 2019). Self-checkouts seem to be the next looming frontier of automation. By analyzing data from the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (2003-2019), self-checkouts do not prove to be a detriment to human jobs. Instead, they prove to be the next iteration of jobs utilizing technology to improve organizational efficiency. Changes in the labor market reveal ways social workers can adapt to assist their clients in navigating the resulting impact of selfcheckouts (Anderson, 2019). As such, it is a necessity for social workers to understand the changes to the labor market in order to effectively serve their clients and improve their quality of life. Social workers may need to help clients access crucial resources, such as financial assistance, safe childcare, and job skill opportunities.

Keywords: economics, labor, automation, self-checkout, COVID-19

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Author Biography

Gage Curtner

Gage Curtner is a senior in Economics with a minor in Psychology. He is interested in
researching issues pertaining to Labor Economics and Monetary Economics. He hopes his
research can be used to increase the quality of life of consumers and workers.