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1 Minute of Human Labor Per Amazon Order Shipped

Happy Wednesday, dear readers!

We are all familiar with economics, right? The management of scarce resources, supply and demand, all that, yes?

Well, it looks like economics is once against making its presence felt in the workers’ compensation world.  I recently had occasion to read this article put out by CNN Money, which reports that the average order from Amazon involves approximately one minute of human labor.

Perhaps similar statistics are out there for other industries… paving maybe?construction-dog

I don’t know what the value of each order is for Amazon, but given the sheer volume of Amazon’s business, we can probably agree that the average worker is processing 60 orders per hour (the rest of the work being done by robots and automation).  Little Amazon Jr. is likely being put through medical school just on the orders from my home and my neighbors…

While a college student, your humble blogger worked several jobs to help cover the bar tab, and one of them was as a simple shipping clerk in a warehouse.  I can attest that 0% of the work was performed by automation, and 100% of the work done by starving-college-student labor.  Amazon is reaching the same goals as before, using only a tiny fraction of the manpower.

Forget about the number of human jobs eliminated; forget about the amount of human labor now freed up to be used more efficiently in the market.  The total hours of human labor times the total number of humans working in Amazon’s warehouses is less now for the same production goals.  That means fewer instances of industrial exposure and fewer opportunities for specific injuries to occur – there are fewer people and fewer hours (total) worked.
That money can go into higher wages, better working conditions, and lower costs for the consumers.

There was a time before workers’ compensation, and California, in its infinite wisdom, decided that the wonderful system we have today is the best way to protect workers in the face of industrial injuries (does anyone remember buy llama farms in Mexico as part of vocational rehabilitation?  Or perhaps that’s just a legend the gray-haired comp practitioners told to your humble blogger as they laughed and laughed…).  Perhaps California’s workers’ compensation system is becoming obsolete? Perhaps workers have a better chance of avoiding injury, or surviving after being injured (based on higher wages and lower costs of living), because of employers and technology (rather than gubmn’t and bureaucracy).

To remain relevant, California’s workers’ comp system – which means the laws and the administration of the laws – need to adapt and incorporate this brave new world.

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  1. October 19th, 2016 at 14:18 | #1

    It is no myth and I am sure I am dating myself but I once had a rehab plan where we paid for a woman to open up her own nail salon in Mexico and another claim where we bought sheep for man in Mexico so he could become a sheep farmer. Believe me, I do not miss those good old days!

    • Gregory Grinberg
      October 21st, 2016 at 08:40 | #2

      Alright! We have confirmation! Not just a myth but another strange chapter in California’s workers’ comp!

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